I had to make an unplanned trip home to Omaha last weekend (missed the Cocktail Ride, sadly) and while I was there I managed to find some extra time to stop by a great little bike shop that has opened downtown – the only bike shop in downtown Omaha by the way. Greenstreet Cycles is a friendly bike shop run by the super-friendly Sarah Johnson who is no stranger to the bike business – she’s worked at a couple Omaha bike shops in the past and owned a bike shop in Colorado.
Now if you’re unfamiliar with Omaha let me just say that a heavy Dutch Omafiets would probably not be the bike of choice in this city – it’s rather hilly and it while it has a lot of great biking trails , it’s urban transit infrastructure still heavily favors cars over bikes, pedestrians or mass transit.
Having said that though, the folks at Greenstreet Cycles along with a few of the other bike shops in the city have become very involved with the transportation infrastructure of the city. There was a bike rack ‘art’ contest in 2009 that put useful but creative bike racks around the city like these that now stand out front the Greenstreet Cycles store.
And Sarah is working with the city’s new Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator to install about 60 new bike racks around the city. This sort of cooperation, along with all the work by the local bike advocacy group Omaha Bikes, and the big effort going into the overhaul of the city’s Transportation Masterplan this year means that it’s an great time to be a cyclist in the hilly city that overlooks the Missouri River. They’ve put in bike lanes and marked bike routes throughout the city. According to my brother, who has logged over 20 years of cycling in Omaha and the surrounding few hundred miles, the bike route markers keep showing up on all his favorite routes. That’s a sign of some thoughtful bike planning or perhaps they just put a GPS transponder in his bike. What’s really really great about the bike routes in Omaha though is the way they’ve handled bike routes on narrow streets. In the downtown neighborhoods there is not always enough room for a separate bike lane so the streets have been clearly marked as bike routes with signs that notify motorists that cyclists may take the full lane! I wish we had these signs in Chicago!
Here’s the street with the shared bike route indicator, that also has the “May Use Full Lane” signs posted alongside.
The folks at Greenstreet Cycles are fully committed to improving the cycling infrastructure in Omaha and helping to get ‘normal people out on normal bikes’. To that end they sell a lot of great city bikes along with a few road and mountain bikes. They stock the ever-popular Surly, not just the heavy-duty Long Haul Trucker, but also the cargo-style Big Dummy.
They carry the full line of Civia bikes, including the gorgeous Loring.
They also stock various bikes from Masi, including a few from their cruiser/city-bike style SoulVille Series, along with bikes from Salsa, and those lovely Specialized Globe bikes that I’ve written about on this site before.
I took a quick test ride on one of the Civia Lorings – actually on Sarah’s Civia Loring, but while I still think it’s a beautiful bike, and a little more agile than my Oma, it is not for me. This particular bike was the their ‘large’ sized frame and too small for me. They do come in one frame-size larger.
If you are ever in Omaha you should check out Greenstreet Cycles – they rent bikes as well as sell them and run a pedicab service. Sarah hosts a women’s ride every Saturday morning, and there’s a shop ride every Monday night. They have a Ladies Bicycle Maintenance class coming up in December (back by popular demand) and sponsor Bike “sprint” races on trainers inside local bars for fun and prizes! Check out this video interview with Sarah when the shop first opened or read up on them on their Facebook page.