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MAPA's "Block Talks" offer valuable insight


Metropolitan Area Planning Agency recently held “Block Talks” looking at three different areas of 13th Street: downtown and the Dahlman and Deer Park neighborhoods. 

Jeff Spiehs, Community Relations Manager for MAPA, says a “Block Talk” is a facilitated walk that includes a mix of people from residents of the community and engineers to business owners and elected officials. 

The group walks together around a specific neighborhood that includes both residences and businesses.  Spiehs says the intent is to look at the area from the viewpoint of a pedestrian or a cyclist. 

Ultimately, MAPA is interested in knowing how easy it is for community members to get through their day-to-day trips in these neighborhoods, whether they are 6 or 86. 

Spiehs says MAPA wants to figure out how to increase accessibility in these areas for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

"If the kid can’t walk to the corner or cross the street safely to play with their friend, then elderly people or those walking with a stroller or people with disabilities, probably can’t either.  The walk itself is a walk of discovery and helping people evaluate the neighborhood from the variety of destinations to whether it’s safe and whether you can live and work here.  Also, can you hang out and play here?”

Spiehs says MAPA also encourages those who attend the “Block Talks” to think about the condition of the sidewalks in the neighborhood, whether or not there is easy bus access and if there are bike lanes.

MAPA plans to conduct these “Block Talks” throughout the Omaha and Council Bluffs region.  Spiehs says the events are being offered in partnership with the City of Omaha and One Omaha. 

More information is available at