Bellevue's first major bike lanes are ready for public riding.
Cyclists can now traverse about five miles of Fort Crook Road within their own lanes in both directions.
The idea is that people can commute or travel for pleasure from Omaha to Offutt Air Force Base and other parts of Bellevue.
“They've just got a nice clean shot down to Offutt without having to worry about traffic,” Public Works Director Jeff Roberts said.
The route connects Bellevue to Omaha on 13th and 24th Streets.
The bike lanes are already accessible. But they'll officially be welcomed at a ribbon-cutting today and a 10-mile bike ride led by Mayor Rita Sanders.
“We need to create safe transportation modes throughout our community, and bicycling is one of those that is more than just going out and getting exercise and recreation,” City Council President Don Preister said.
Preister successfully pushed for a 2011 city ordinance that encourages alternative modes of transportation, and he said Bellevue residents can expect more such projects in the future.
The advantages of bike lanes, he said, include safety for cyclists and more opportunities for people to come into Bellevue.
He also sees an economic development opportunity as companies look to locate — and create jobs — in an area with such amenities.
Fort Crook Road was Nebraska's first divided highway, according to the city. It was completed the day after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
But ever since the construction of Kennedy Freeway in the 1970s, the road has been losing traffic.
Along with the traffic, businesses have moved out of the area, and now the city is targeting Fort Crook for redevelopment.
Preister hopes bike lanes will help encourage business to return.
Bellevue Chamber of Commerce President Jim Ristow said bike lanes can be one aspect of an overall attractive business environment.
“They try to promote to their employees that they've got a fun place to work and a healthy place to work,” Ristow said.
Preister acknowledged that the bicycle movement has detractors. Some have safety concerns, and some drivers don't feel that they should have to share the road.
The bike lanes cost $267,500, with the city paying $40,000. The rest of the money came from private donors and federal grants.
They came at a cost of two car lanes, leaving the road with four.