Cross-country biker praises plans for bridge
Halfway through his 5,000-mile bicycle ride across America, Scott Campbell said he is impressed with the efforts of Omaha and Council Bluffs to create safe cycling routes.
"Especially, the $22 million pedestrian-bicycle bridge they are building across the Missouri River," Campbell said. "I've seen pictures of the design and this will be a beautiful addition to your community.
"I had to cross over to Omaha from Council Bluffs on Interstate 480, which is illegal on a bike. I think this bridge will be a great way for bicyclists to travel back and forth."
Campbell, a 54-year-old graphic designer, is cycling from Boston to his home in Santa Cruz, Calif., as part of the National Bicycle Greenway's fifth-annual "Mayors Ride" to promote the connection of communities via bike paths. The trip began April 28, with other cyclists joining Campbell for stretches along the way, and is scheduled to conclude July 28.
Along the way, Campbell is urging local officials to expand current trail systems and build new ones. He either camps or stays at the homes of local bicycling enthusiasts.
"More bicycle routes help cities relieve congestion, promote good health, improve the environment and build community spirit," Campbell said. "I've also witnessed firsthand how businesses spring up along bicycle trails."
Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey was out of town, but Campbell met with an aide. Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan told Campbell about his city's commitment to increase its 27 miles of trails to 60 miles.
About the only discouraging aspect of Campbell's visit to the metropolitan area, he said, was the lack of bike racks at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo.
"That disappointed me," Campbell said. "But Omaha seems to be a very progressive city that's willing to expand on the existing trail system. I've met a lot of wonderful people."
Unfortunately we did not have the crowd we anticipated - it was raining and overcast until just before we started. However we did have a representative from Senator Tom Harkin's office and Congressman Leonard Boswell's office. Mayor Pro Tem Bob Mahaffey read the proclamation and Donna Anthony from Senator Harkin's office read a letter of commendation. Ted Tran from Congressman Boswell's office made a statement on safe biking and wished Scott and Steve luck on their journey. We had a representative from the Center on Sustainable Communities and one from local bike clubs, but the crowd was very sparse due to the fact that it was still raining pretty hard on the other side of town.
Due to the construction of the new Riverwalk by City Hall, we moved the press conference across the street to the Simon Estes Amphitheater. We also had two television stations covering the event so we should get some good press.
I had a great time showing Scott and Steve around City Hall and giving them a little history of our building. Unfortunately, I was unable to join them for lunch - we are just going crazy around here.
It's always a treat to meet the NBG Scouts. I am sorry we couldn't do more but Mother Nature does have a mind of her own.......
Lorna L. Davros, CPS
Exec. Admin. Ass't to the Mayor and Council