- Associated Press - Thursday, April 27, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new Omaha initiative is urging people in five city neighborhoods to try alternative transportation so residents can improve their health and the environment.

Midtown on the Move wants residents in the selected areas to experiment one day a week from Friday through June by traveling on buses, bikes, on foot or by shared car rides, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2oMz72U ) reported.

Daniel Lawse, one of the organizers behind the initiative, hopes that at least 1,000 of the 12,000 people living in the neighborhoods will participate. He said almost 300 people have signed up in advance of a launch party that will be held Thursday.

“Momentum is building,” Lawse said. “It’s exciting.”

The initiative is funded partly by the Douglas County Health Department, which contributed $47,000 from a federal chronic disease prevention grant through the state.

“The more physical activity people get, the more they move around, the healthier they are,” county community health planner Andy Wessel said.

Wessel said fewer car trips also mean less air pollution. Environmental consulting agency Verdis Group is helping manage and promote the effort.

According to Lawse, Midtown on the Move chose the Midtown area because of the population’s diversity in age and income, as well as proximity to restaurants, employers, bars, churches and schools.

“It’s about a 10-minute walk from one end of the neighborhood to the other,” he said.

Organizers hope that the initiative will result in people who live in midtown continuing the effort.

“We do hope that at least some of the people who try it do enjoy it, find adventure in it and they do switch more trips,” Lawse said. “We hope that there are some sustained habits formed over time.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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