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Archive for the ‘Bike Facilities’ Category

Cycling is a popular activity in Nevada, with people cycling to work, to school, for exercise, or just for pleasure. However, it is an undeniable fact that, along with pedestrians, cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. In 2011, figures show that 677 cyclists were killed on America’s roads in accidents between bikes and motor vehicles, and a further 38,000 were injured. These alarming figures show how important it is that measures are taken to make cycling a safer activity for all concerned.

Roads no longer fit for purpose

One option for improving road safety that is receiving increasing support is the concept of Complete Streets. According to the Complete Streets Coalition, the initiative involves the development of road networks that are “safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.”

An article written for the Federal Highways Administration acknowledges that the current road network doesn’t meet this standard. It highlights the fact that roads were originally designed to ensure that motorized traffic could move through the road network as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, although this is good news for motorists, it doesn’t take into account the needs of other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians – a fact that is clearly demonstrated in the number of road casualty statistics.

Considering the needs of cyclists in road design

Local authorities and health bodies are keen to promote cycling for its health and environmental credentials; however there has not yet been a corresponding increase in investment and initiatives to facilitate this cycling and to keep cyclists safe.

Towns and cities that implement a Complete Streets policy would ensure that the road networks developed by transportation planners would always be built with all possible road users in mind and not just cars. This would mean that the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation vehicles were considered and accounted for.

Unfortunately, even the safest of roads, designed with every road safety and accident prevention measure available, will still see the occasional accident because planners can’t account for random events, or the possibility of human error. As a result, it is important that cyclists always ensure they have the appropriate level of insurance cover for their bikes. UK bicycle insurance comparison website money.co.uk advises consumers to think carefully about what they need their insurance policy to cover. Bikes can be expensive and represent a significant investment on the part of their owners, so most cyclists will want protection against the risk of theft and accidental damage. However, considering the inherent risks involved in cycling on busy roads, it may also be worth including coverage for some level of personal accident insurance, as well as third-party liability to ensure they are covered for any damage they may inadvertently cause to another road user.

Common road hazards

Evidence shows that vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians are put at risk when they use roads that don’t take into account the needs of these groups. Common hazards include a lack of safe places to cross a busy road, wait for a bus or cycle.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, there were more than 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists killed on roads in the US in 2008, and a further 120,000 injured. Figures have shown that road accidents involving pedestrians are twice as common in areas without sidewalks. Unsurprisingly, these accidents are least common on roads that have sidewalks on both sides.

Effective road safety measures

The Complete Streets philosophy doesn’t mandate the same design of road layout for all areas, but instead recognizes that the needs of road users will differ depending on where the road is. For example, a road in a rural area will have different levels of use than a road in a heavily built-up urban area. However, all roads designed to meet the Complete Streets standards will have one thing in common – finding the right balance of safety and convenience to meet the needs of all road users.

The types of measures that might be included in a road layout designed with Complete Streets in mind could include:

  • Widening roads to provide dedicated space for different users, such as cyclists, public transport and car drivers.
  • Providing regular and safe crossing points for pedestrians.
  • Better placement of bus stops.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, a number of studies into bicyclist safety found that the inclusion of well-designed infrastructure specific to the needs of cyclists led to a reduction in the risk of cyclists crashing or sustaining an injury. For example, the inclusion of dedicated bicycle lanes was found to reduce accident rates by around 50%.

Adopting a Complete Streets philosophy needn’t be expensive or complicated, but can have a major impact on road safety, as demonstrated by the figures relating to the introduction of cycle lanes. Any investment into achieving Complete Streets that town and road planners are prepared to make will see major returns in the form of a reduction in the number of deaths and injuries on the roads. – Jennifer Knight

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Keystone – Auto-centric design

The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission and the City of Reno Traffic Engineer proposed a road diet for Keystone in Reno at the August 28th meeting. The Old Southwest Neighborhood Advisory Board (NAB) had been working on the project for 2 years. The NAB had two primary concerns: 1) excessive speed on Keystone made it especially dangerous and 2) a large number of residents in the NAB’s area are UNR students who bicycle to school.

A road diet would address both of those issues, reduce congestion and increase safety for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The RTC has solid experience with road diets having installed them on Wells, Arlington, Mayberry and California, among others. Each was aggressively opposed before the project was approved, not by residents on those streets, but by motorists who used those streets only as a throughway. In each case, RTC had done their homework and were confident a road diet would benefit all transportation modes. Once installed, motorist quickly adapted and complaints disappeared.

Five people who live from one to three blocks from Keystone (four from a single street) wrote letters of opposition Alas the e-mail campaign in support of the road diet arrived too late to be in the meeting package. The City Council postponed approval of the Keystone road diet until the next meeting, and a planned Complete Streets workshop, but the tone of the meeting was quite negative.

So far, many people have written to support the road diet but nearly all are bicyclists. Of the people who care about Complete Streets, bicyclists are the most passionate and can be counted on to respond to an email blast.

My question is, “Where are the people who complained about the speeding cars on Keystone?” They need to stand up and be counted.

I’m a bicyclist but I’ve traveled Keystone much more in my car. I know that I would feel safer when in my car on Keystone if it were striped as proposed. I enjoy driving at a more relaxed pace and the road diets installed in Reno have not affected my travel times, despite the more relaxed pace. I believe the RTC when they say a road diet on Keystone would benefit all transportation modes.

Somerset – Complete Streets design

Most telling perhaps is that Steve Bunnell, City of Reno Traffic Engineer, is in favor. Among many bicyclists, Steve is considered to be biased in favor of motorists. He may resist the label of “biased.” I believe he is, at least, very, very cautious about reducing road capacity for motorists in favor of space for bicyclist. The fact that he spoke in favor of this project tells me that this road diet will work.

Let’s hope the Reno City Council comes to realize that a road diet for Keystone is very much worth approving.

Terry

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The conventional wisdom assumes that massive transportation projects are far more economically strategic than bike lanes. But the release of two studies from two very different cities – Portland, OR and New York City – reveals that bicyclists and pedestrians may spend more than their peers who arrive at the same neighborhoods via automobile or public transportation.

Whether businesses reached out and made their locations more bicycle friendly, or streets were redesigned to include bike lanes, the overall outcome has been increased spending in local neighborhoods. Shoppers who arrive in urban neighborhoods via cars may spend more in one sitting–but overall those who arrived on foot or by bicycling spent more month to month. The results indicate that neighborhoods and business districts that seek a healthier bottom line should work with municipalities and support such features as protected bike lanes, bicycle racks and pedestrian safety improvements.

A study that New York-based Transportation Alternatives completed demonstrates the positive impact of bicycling in Manhattan’s East Village. Newly created bike lanes on First and Second Avenues led to a sharp increase in bicycle ridership in the study’s focus area. Such improvements are particularly important to women because they are less likely to commute by bicycle if a route lacks dedicated bicycle lanes. The result is a 24 percent rate of residents bicycling in their neighborhood; the average in all of New York City is only one percent. But those who traipse about the East Village by bike spend the most week-to-week at an average of $163 a week. Car users, on the other hand, fall behind with average expenditures of $111 a week.

Kelly Clifton, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Portland State University, found similar conclusions in her study of bicycling trends in the Rose City. Portland is one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the U.S., but business owners often have the perception that auto access equals dollars–and anything that possibly impedes auto access, capacity or parking will hit their revenues. Clifton, through surveying residents at various neighborhoods throughout the city, found the opposite. While customers who drive to various establishments may spend more money per visit, bicyclists visit the same venue more often, and spend more overall.

The findings of both surveys, particularly the one in Portland, show that bicycling is a win-win all around. Such benefits as exercise (in a country with a morbid obesity rate) and reduced emissions are obvious. But as is the case with many business initiatives with a focus on sustainability, targeting, welcoming and marketing to bicyclists makes solid business sense. The lessons of neighborhoods in cities from Fresno to Missoula, and neighborhoods in cities with established bicycle networks in Chicago, is that welcoming all visitors, instead of excluding some, strengthens communities–and bank accounts. The business case for bicycling has become an even easier one to make.

From GreenGoPost.com

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Reno Bike Project is calling it the “3 Sweet Feet Ride”. I’ve been calling it the “Bicycle Awareness Ride”. Whatever you call Saturday’s mass of bicyclists, it’s going to be fun and could be a really important event for the future of Reno & Sparks bicycling.

We have plenty to celebrate:
• Reno/Sparks was just named a bronze level “Bicycle Friendly Community”
• Nevada law now requires motorists to give bicycles 3 feet of space when passing from behind
• A motorist who causes injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian faces the increased penalties of a reckless driving offense, including possible loss of license, community service and jail
• Nevada law now prohibits hand-held cell phones and texting by motorists, reducing driver distractions

Not only will we be celebrating these accomplishments, we’ll be sending a message to motorists that they must share the roads with bicyclists and that the rules of the road have changed.

Come ride with us on Saturday, October 1st!

Start / End – Reno City Hall Plaza, 1st Street and South Virginia Street, Reno

Route – we’ll ride mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way to Sparks City Hall at a leisurely pace and return mostly on Victorian Avenue and the Truckee River Bike Path: 8 miles total.

When – Assemble in the Plaza from 9:30 to 10:30 and get a chance to thank the bicyclist friendly politicians who made these new laws possible. Teresa Benitez-Thompson, author of the law that increased penalties for injuring a bicyclist, plans to ride with us.

Park a few blocks away and bicycle to the Plaza or park in the Cal-Neva garage.

Wear your “3 Feet Please” jersey or t-shirt, if you’ve got one.

Win a jersey! The first 50 bicyclists to arrive at the plaza get a ticket to win a “3 Feet Please” jersey (that’s 50 chances to win one jersey, better odds than the casinos offer).

Rules of the Road – no streets will be closed and no special police escort is planned, although I expect them to be keeping an eye on us. I promised we would obey all of the rules of the road:
• Bicyclists have all of the rights and duties of motorists
• Ride no more than two abreast and single file if to do otherwise impedes traffic
• Obey all traffic signs and signals

Have Fun!

Hope to see you there!

Terry – 775-287-7142 for questions

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Light rail is coming to Reno! Well, almost light rail. This is light rail on rubber wheels and paved roads. Kind of “light-rail-lite”.

The Washoe Country RTC is introducing an express bus service between the downtown 4th Street station and Meadowood Mall, named “RTC Rapid”. It will ride in “bus only” lanes on South Virginia Street and stop at fewer stations than the regular bus, named RTC Rapid Connect. The South Virginia corridor has the most heavily used city buses in Washoe County.

The South Virginia corridor also is heavily used by bicycle commuters. So, where do the bicyclists go if a whole lane is designated for exclusive use of RTC buses?

I talked with Sgt. Stegmaier of Reno PD yesterday. We identified 4 choices:
1. Bikes and buses share the lane
2. Bikes ride next to the curb
3. Bikes ride in a bike lane left of the bus and right of the other traffic
4. Bikes are prohibited.

Bikes riding next to the curb would conflict with the bus at every bus stop, with the bicyclist in danger of getting squeezed. The plan is to construct nicely coordinated bus stops that allow easy bus entry and exit and a bike lane there, in the few places where there is enough room, would conflict with this plan.

Bikes that ride between the bus lane and the other traffic lane would be vulnerable from both sides. A real bike lane would be required for bicyclist safety and there’s not enough room for one in big parts of the corridor.

Prohibiting bikes would be an enforcement nightmare.

So, the RTC met yesterday (7/13/11) and decided to have the “bus only” lane be a “bus and bikes, only” lane. It will soon be signed like that, I’m told.

This makes sense to me for two reasons: 1) bicyclists in general go where they find most convenient and safe, regardless of law and signage, and 2) the “bus and bikes, only” lane will be empty when not occupied by a bus. Besides, trying to control bicyclists is like herding cats so it’s safer to adapt the environment to them.

Here’s a link for more information on RTC Rapid – http://www.rtcwashoe.com/RTCRAPID/documents/RTC.RAPID_brochure.pdf

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Bike lanes are great for bicyclists and that’s were I feel the safest. But it can be frustrating when the bike lane is full of debree, construction signs and parked cars. Not to mention being surprised by a Vespa going twice my speed.

This is an amusing video sure, but it rings true.

Motorists are pretty sure that we are required to ride in a bike lane if there is one. I almost always do. But NV law has no such requirement.

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Today’s question: “Do I ride through this sand and glass along the curb or pull out into the traffic in the hope of avoiding a flat tire or a nasty fall?”

Here is a list of contacts for street sweeping at each of the local jurisdictions in northern Nevada: 

 

City of Sparks: 

http://www.ci.sparks.nv.us, eBetter Place or Ron Korman, 353-2271, rkorman@cityofsparks.us

 

City of Reno:

http://www.cityofreno.com, Reno Direct, 334-4636, renodirect@cityofreno.com

or Darrel Ellis, 334-2243, ellisd@cityofreno.nv.us

Each street in the City of Reno is swept 1 time each month in accordance with air quality standards. Some streets do get a lot of debris in the curb lines and bike lanes between sweeping.

 

Washoe County:

Bill Orozsi, 348-2180, worozsi@washoecounty.us

The County sweeps all paved streets every 6 weeks, and they try to sweep special requests as they receive them.

 

NDOT:

Dave Titzel, 834-8300, dtitzel@dot.state.nv.us

All of McCarran Blvd is now maintained by the state.

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