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Posts Tagged ‘bike lane’

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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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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bike-lane-example-w-treesThe League of American Bicyclists recently published a list of $2.18 billion worth of proposed projects for bicycle facilities to be potentially funded by the economic stimulus package. To my mind, these kind of projects fit perfectly because they are both a way to stimulate the economy and to address our long term need to become more energy independent. The heck with the plug in hybrid… bicycles take no fuel at all. No transportation is greener than a bicycle, except maybe Huck Finn’s wooden raft.

So how many of those projects were on the list from Nevada? Zero, nada, none. Is this caused by a lack of imagination or is this just another example of Nevada being on the bottom of all of the good lists and top of all of the bad?

In any case, the train is leaving and we’re going to left at the station.

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Nevada Bicycle Coalition

 

With so much emphasis on accountability these days, I thought I would give an accounting of the bicycle advocacy activities of the Nevada Bicycle Coalition, both for you and myself. The NBC was active in many projects and issues in 2008.

 

January – This Blog was born. See it at www.nevadabike.org. This was an effort to get some kind of Internet presence for NBC without spending a lot of cash or time, after getting so many requests for directions to our “website”.

 

February – Police versus Cyclist Bias meeting. What started as an Internet “rant” about the injustices upon bicyclists perpetrated by law enforcement ended with a meeting with about 50 cyclists and 20 Reno, Sparks, Washoe County senior police officials to discuss how to make roads safer for bicyclists and the challenges law enforcement faces. Everyone learned something and left with a better appreciation for the other’s point of view and a commitment to work together to improve bicycle safety. A more tangible result was a video produced by Washoe County Sheriff Haley’s Office discussing bicycle safety, traffic laws for bicyclists and the state of bicycling in northern Nevada. It aired on SNCAT, community access television for northern Nevada, in October.

You can view the video at http://washoe-nv.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=78&publish_id=&event_id.

 

March – Bikes and Big Trucks. NDOT and the NBC started work on a course for drivers of semi-trucks to educate them and bicyclists how to safely share the road. The design team included representatives from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, DMV, Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Associated General Contractors. The vision is that this course will be part of truck drivers OSHA training and distributed by the Nevada Motor Transport Association when completed.

 

April – we participated in the production of a DPS bicycle safety billboard designed and produced by IGT and Jeff Ross Photography, and paid for by the DPS. It was displayed during April on 32 signs in Las Vegas and 13 in Reno.

 

April – improved the language in the Washoe County 2040 Regional Transportation Plan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Element, with regard to bicycle facilities, safety and the promotion of motorist and bicyclist education.

 

April – the NBC was instrumental in the rebirth of the Washoe County Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). The BPAC is charged in general with advising the Washoe County RTC on bike and pedestrian issues and, more specifically, with mapping the area’s bike lanes and routes and then recommending connections to turn the current hodge-podge into a bicycle transportation network. The mapping project can be accessed through www.nevadabike.org.

 

June – arranged to have the LAB DVD “Enjoy the Ride” shown in rotation on northern Nevada’s community access television station.

 

July – in a joint effort with the Reno Bike Project, the NBC ran a “bike valet” during 8 downtown “Rollin’ on the River” concerts, parking bicycles for free for concert goers. The bike racks were purchased with a grant for the City of Reno.

 

July – the NBC was granted 501(c)3 status by the IRS.

 

September – NBC had a table at the 2008 Reno Green Summit where we talked to people about bicycle commuting and safety and distributed a brochure modeled on the information at www.bicyclesafe.com.

 

September – the NBC and RBP ran a bike valet at the Balloon Races in Reno.

 

October – the NBC proposed and rallied support for a “road diet” for Mayberry Road, arguably the most popular bicycle route in Reno, which resulted in a dramatic improvement in safety for bicyclists despite opposition from some local residents.

 

December – the NBC submitted a proposal for legislation to update the Nevada Revised Statutes with regards to bicycle operation. At this time the status of this request is unknown.

 

So, we had a pretty productive year in pursuing our mission, “to promote safe bicycling in Nevada”.

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Reno’s most popular bike route is about to get a makeover.

Mayberry Drive is by far the most popular bicycle route in the Washoe Valley. Hundreds of bicyclists use it every week, both to commute to and from work and shopping and for recreational rides to lovely Verdi. Not to be overlooked, it is a key piece of the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, a project enthusiastically supported by the City.

When we’ve ask for a bike lane in the past, the answer from local government has always been 1) “Is it in the long term plan” and 2) “we only put bike lanes on existing roads when they are being widened or otherwise refurbished if there is enough room”. Well, Mayberry Drive meets both of these criteria and it’s time to step up to the plate and put down some paint.

RTC has drawn up plans for a 3 lane solution and a 4 lane solution. The “3 lane solution” has one travel lane each direction, a center turn lane, bike lanes and parking. The “4 lane solution” has 2 travel lanes each direction, parking where needed and intermittent bike lanes.

The Reno City Council will meet at 6:00pm on August 20th in the Council Chambers in Reno City Hall, 1st and Virginia Street, to discuss and decide which solution they want Public Works to implement.

The Nevada Bicycle Coalition strongly supports the 3 lane solution. The 3 lane solution is the only solution with full bike lanes from 4th Street to McCarran. In addition, this configuration is noted for having a traffic calming effect, slowing motorists to a less frantic pace. Full length bike lanes and slower motor traffic both improve the safety of bicyclists on Mayberry and encourage more people to give bicycling a try.

The RTC has some concerns that traffic volumes in 5 to 10 years may require a 4 lane configuration, especially if they can’t get their funding situation fixed in November. Fortunately, roads are slurry sealed every few years and each time RTC will have the opportunity to propose a new configuration for the pavement stripes. It’s just paint…

The Nevada Bicycle Coalition urges all bicyclists in the area to attend the meeting and be counted in favor of the 3 lane solution.

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