Encouraging ingredients are coming together for Omaha-area residents to end their COVID hibernation and enjoy the outdoors. The weather is inviting, and virus-crisis restrictions are easing. Plus, after such a prolonged sedentary period for so many, getting out of the house or apartment makes great sense for one’s physical and mental well-being.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to the benefits. Physical inactivity contributes to one in 10 premature deaths, the CDC notes, and $117 billion in annual health care costs are connected to inadequate levels of physical activity.
Trails for biking and hiking offer positive opportunities to help break the negative cycle, and the Omaha area has plenty of options. Here are just a few examples: the Riverfront Trail, South Omaha Trail, Keystone Trail and Chalco Hills Recreation Area.
An interconnected trail system is an important amenity for a modern, forward-looking city, and so is a community culture that encourages residents’ activity on such trails. Omaha’s current situation is mixed. The Omaha city government’s Bike Omaha Network covers 38 miles of pavement and has signage at 400 locations around town. But considerable gaps remain. The city has an incremental plan to add new bike lanes, trails and wayfinding signs in coming years.
Recent World-Herald reporting noted two positive improvements — movement forward on the North Omaha Trail project and the Platte River Bridge Trail.
The city is working with range of partners for multistage creation of the North Omaha Trail, a recreational community pathway with an emphasis on biking. Much of the trail would run along the neighborhood streets next to the North Freeway. Planners built the concept for the trail based on models in cities including Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit.
The Platte River Bridge Trail will be a recreational pedestrian trail south of Omaha along U.S. Highway 34/75.
In the meantime, the holiday weekend provides a good occasion to get out in the sunshine. It’s a great time to hit the trail.