Bike/Walk Summit Wrap Up

Posted on November 9, 2018 · Posted in General

We’re done with the behind the scenes wrap up and put have put the 2018 Nebraska Bike/Walk Summit to bed. It was a great event and we thought you’d enjoy hearing some of the key highlights!

THURSDAY:

We had two great options to choose from on Day 1.  Summit Sponsor AARP Nebraska, Heartland 2050 and AARP Iowa hosted a day long seminar at the Venue at Highlander on Livable Communities featuring Danielle Arigoni from the national AARP office.  Participants learned more about progress being made for communities prioritizing aging in place, housing affordability, universal design and equity.  Of course, transportation – safe and accessible walking and biking – plays a huge role in any plan that seeks to address these issues.

In the meantime, a smaller group of bike/ped advocates enjoyed a great workshop on conflict resolution training with Mary Lee Brock from the Creighton Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Center. (We don’t ever deal with people that disagree with us, do we? Oof.)  One of the big takeaways from this session was the examination of the different types of power, and how we as bike/ped advocates have very little on our own. If we truly want to create the change we want to see, we’re going to have to partner with as many like minded organizations as possible.  This means that we need to be aware of when we are venturing into territory where perfect is the enemy of good: we may not get everything we want all the time, but let’s not lose sight of small gains that can still make a difference.

FRIDAY:

The Scott Center in Aksarben Village was a fantastic venue for our 2nd Annual Bike/Walk Summit, and we had several folks that ventured in on bike via the Keystone Trail and other routes.

NeBA Executive Director Julie Harris welcomed the crowd and provided an update on where the organization is headed with the new strategic plan.  Focus areas include:

Trails and Bicycle Tourism
Policy, Projects and Legislation
Marketing, Outreach and Influencing
Internal Organizational Structures

Our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Daniel Piatkowski from the UNL Department of Community and Regional Planning gave a very thought provoking presentation titled “Will Driverless Cars be Good for Bikes?”  As Dan methodically led us through the logic behind various scenarios along with potential outcomes, you could see the light bulbs coming on over people’s heads.  The issue is complex and we in the bike/ped advocacy world are going to need to add it to the pile of things we must pay close attention to.

Our lunch Keynote featured Marianne Fowler from the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Marianne discussed the Great American Trail and how the route winds across the country, state by state.  Nebraska plays a key role in route via the MoPac and Cowboy Trails.

And speaking of significant trail connections, we also took the opportunity at lunch to announce that the Nebraska Bicycling Alliance and the Nebraska Trails Foundation has recently signed an MOU to work in coordination to find ways to get key trail connections finished. Chuck Griffith, President of the Board for NTF, showed off a large map demonstrating how finishing one 8 mile gap in the MoPac Trail between Lincoln and Omaha could unlock tremendous potential for bicycle tourism in the region.  Closing the gap on this one trail alone would create about 260 miles of trail (including some urban bike route connections through Lincoln and Omaha).  Imagine the possibilities!

Breakout sessions included great speakers:
Danielle Arigoni from AARP gave an abbreviated encore presentation about Livable Communities  for those who could not attend the full Thursday session.

Melanie Stewart, Sustainability Manager for UNMC/Nebraska Medicine provided eye popping stats on their Travel Smart program that encourages active transportation to the landlocked campus. They’ve provided a huge cost savings with this plan and allowed them to build structures that help people rather than just house cars.

Craig Wacker, Planning Manager for NDOT lead an interactive session on how the state bike map can be improved by going digital.  The audience was able to provide some great feedback and ideas that Craig can take back as they make their plans for the next iteration of the map.

The hot topic of the moment, SCOOTERS!, along with ebikes and dockless bike share was discussed in the final breakout session. Ben Turner from Heartland Bike Share and Bill Moore from QUIKBYKE Solar Bicycle Systems provided great insight on  what’s happening nationally and what’s inevitably coming our way with these new forms of urban transport.  At the conclusion of the session, folks could step outside and try out the ebikes and scooters for themselves.  We dare anyone to ride a scooter without a smile on their face!  Many thanks to Heartland Bikeshare staff for coordinating the product demos and the bike parking for summit attendees, too.

All in all, we were very pleased with how the 2-day event unfolded.  Many thanks to all of our sponsors, speakers and attendees.  We also need to give special thanks to Mona D. who served as our event coordinator, making the day run smoothly making the behind the scenes logistics less stressful!

Our plan is to host the event in Lincoln next year, and continue to swap between cities. Watch for ways that you can be involved and be sure to send us any ideas you might have for venues, topics, speakers and other ways we can make the event as helpful and engaging as possible. In the meantime, stay tuned! We’ll be announcing more exciting news soon!