Grab your helmet and dust off the bicycle, commuters.
Friday is National Bike to Work Day, and a handful of local organizations plan to mark the occasion with group rides.
Group rides will depart from a number of locations in the metro area and will end with coffee and pastries at City Hall, 1819 Farnam St.
“We’re trying to provide an easy way for people to bike to work for the first time,” Ben Turner, board chair of Omaha Bikes, said in a statement. “Riding to work for the first time can be really intimidating, so we want to create an environment in which people felt comfortable.”
Marty Shukert has been commuting via bicycle for about 40 years. The former city planning director now rides about 7 miles to work at RDG Planning & Design. He rides in most weather, though he opts for other transportation if it’s icy or temps dip below 20 degrees.
Group rides, like the ones on Friday, are an easy way to test the waters, Shukert said.
“Things like Bike to Work Day, where people ride in groups, reinforces that activity and does really show people that it’s not that difficult to do,” he said. “Those hills that seem like they’re unclimbable aren’t. The traffic that seems too difficult or too scary can be routed around.”
The commute doubles as Shukert’s daily workout and it leaves him feeling better. He also said it’s environmentally friendly, even if you only cycle to work once or twice a week.
Bike to Work organizers include Omaha Bikes, the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro Area Planning Agency, Heartland B-cycle and Metro Transit.
Those who can’t make group rides can find aid stations set up at City Hall, the Aksarben Transit Center, the Culver’s trailhead in Bellevue and at the Peony Park Hy-Vee. Aid stations will offer free drinks and snacks to riders. A number of organizations will host pop-up stations on bike routes, too.
Heartland B-cycle will offer free bike rentals, metro YMCA locations will provide free shower facilities and commuters combining a bike ride with a bus trip will get a free ride on Metro Transit buses.
Find more information at Facebook.com and sign up for a group ride at bit.ly/2LzxVR7.
Group rides are:
» Papillion, 6:30 a.m., 225 S. Washington St.
» Bellevue, 6:30 a.m., Lied Activity Center
» Millard, 6:30 a.m., 131st and Q Streets
» Council Bluffs, 7:15 a.m., 33 S. Main St.
» North Omaha, 7:30 a.m., North Omaha Transit Center
» Bemis/Gifford, 7:30 a.m., Gifford Park
» Benson/Dundee, 7:30 a.m., Metcalfe Park
» South Omaha, 7:30 a.m., Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium south gate
» Aksarben Village, 7:45 a.m., Aksarben Transit Center
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Benson Park, 7028 Military Ave., is a 217-acre park that includes a playground, a lake, a pavilion and a scenic picnic area. One of the top features of Benson Park is its spray ground, popular among kids and families during the summer.
Dewey Park, in the heart of Midtown at 550 Turner Blvd., is known for its outdoor tennis courts. Dewey Park will be adding a brand new, state-of-the-art dog park in 2019.
Elmwood Park, 6700 Elmwood Park Road, is a historic park that has a city pool, golf course, picnic areas, sports areas and playground. One of its highlights is scenic walking trails, along with its proximity to the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus.
Flanagan Park, near 168th and Fort Streets, is Omaha’s newest park and lake. It features a 220-acre lake people can fish, and 475 acres of parkland, as well as cycling and walking trails. This lake will also feature around the Flanagan Lake trail the popular “Take A Seat” benches, which used to belong at the Gene Leahy Mall.
Fontenelle Park is a 108-acre public park at 4575 Ames Ave. Fontenelle Park has a popular lagoon, playground and long, meandering paths. Two basketball courts, four tennis courts and two football fields join a nine-hole golf course to host sports throughout the park.
Glenn Cunningham Lake, 8305 Rainwood Road, has horse riding trails and a lake where park-goers can enjoy boating and fishing. There are also walking trails around the lake’s leafy acres.
Hanscom Park, 3201 Woolworth Ave., is the oldest park in Omaha. You'll find it across the street from President Ford’s birth site. Hanscom received a brand new playground in 2017. Other features of the park include a greenhouse, dog park, tennis facility and pool.
Hitchcock Park, 5015 S. 45th St., features the Motto McLean Ice Arena, walking paths, a playground, picnic shelter, lagoon and an outdoor 50-meter pool.
At 3033 Hummel Road, this park offers both amazing views and activities for the whole family, including disc golf, trails, playgrounds and day camp.
Levi Carter Park, 3100 Abbott Drive, was named after one of Omaha's original industrialists, Levi Carter. Carter Lake provides opportunities for water skiing, fishing and boating. The park has baseball fields, football fields and basketball courts, as well as paths, picnic areas, shelters, restrooms, a pavilion and lots of open space. Levi Carter also has a playground and splash pad.
Memorial Park, 6005 Underwood Ave., is known for its beautiful rose garden, rolling green lawns and historical monuments. Another perk of the park is its location to UNO’s campus and Dodge Street. During the year there are also numerous events held at the park, such as concerts, the annual lighting of the WWII colonnade and the Veterans Shine On event.
Located on the Missouri River, the Millers Landing Park is home to Lewis & Clark interpretive exhibits, riverfront walking trails and a picnic shelter overlooking the park lake.
Miller Park, 2707 Redick Ave., has a pool, playground and 9-hole golf course. Planned improvements include a scenic walking path, a new splash pad and the Kerrie Orozco baseball field.
Pacific Preserve is Omaha’s hidden gem, according to the parks department. Located at 162nd and Pacific Streets, this park provides a haven for pollinators and other wildlife. It also offers walking trails where people can enjoy a nature haven tucked away from the suburban area.
Seymour Smith Park is an urban park near 68th and Harrison Streets. The park has an all-play playground, which is accessible to kids with disabilities. It also has recreational athletic facilities, including a baseball field, football pitches, disc golf, tennis courts and a recreational skate park. The baseball field hosts American Legion Baseball and the UNO Mavericks. It also features a soap box derby track, a trap and skeet shooting range and a skate park.
Spring Lake Park, 4020 Hoctor Blvd., has a lagoon and a 9-hole golf course. The area, after a project completed in the spring of 2017, also has a diverse wildlife habitat and a lake stocked with fish.
Named for the Ponca leader, Standing Bear Park and lake is at 6404 N. 132nd St. The day-use facility offers a playground, fishing, no-wake boating, 3.3 miles of hiking and bicycling trails, a field for radio-controlled model airplanes, a picnic area and picnic shelters.
Tranquility Park, 12222 West Maple Road, is a 340-acre park with eight baseball fields, 17 soccer fields and 24 tennis courts. Other services include shelters, restrooms, a playground and lots of open spaces. The Tranquility Park Mountain Bike Trail, the first authorized off-road bicycle motocross trail in an Omaha park, is a six-mile course available to mountain bikers.
Youngman Park, near 192nd Street and West Dodge Road, features no-wake boating and fishing on Youngman Lake, a playground, picnic area and open space for other outdoor activities.
Zorinsky Lake Park, near 156th and F Streets, has more than 255 acres with two playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a football field, hiking and bicycling trails and a universally-accessible fishing dock. Zorinsky is also home to one of Omaha’s most popular swimming pools.