Organizers place plungers to prove a point

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- A group of concerned Omaha residents set up an installation of toilet plungers along 63rd Street Monday. The Plungers for a Safer Aksarben told WOWT 6 News they set the plungers up to demonstrate the usefulness of a protected bicycle lane.

“Protected bike lanes are now found in 24 states and 53 U.S. cities,” said Stuart Nottingham, a local cyclist. “It’s not uncommon to see bike lanes cordoned off from cars with curbs, planters or other barriers, which increase safety and comfort for cyclists while discouraging drivers from illegally parking there.”

Organizers noted the intersection they chose, 63rd and Shirley, was the site of multiple car crashes — one of which was fatal.

“A dedicated bike lane could be the perfect solution to slowing drivers on this street down to a safe limit,” Nottingham said. “We hope our installation will demonstrate that.”

The group had planned to remove them after 36 hours, collect data on traffic speeds and share that with the Public Works department. But by Monday afternoon Public Works sent a crew to remove plungers. Omaha's City Engineer Todd Pfitzer said they were a distraction and a potential road block.

"Do you think you're going to slow down? Of course you're going to slow down. This is something you've never seen before, so the data is worthless," Pfitzer said.