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Posts Tagged ‘Reno’

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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Well, I just finished notifying the local hospitals that we’re going to be riding our bicycles en masse from Reno City Hall Plaza to Sparks City Hall and back. They didn’t seem too worried or inclined to staff up their emergency response machinery. Notifying them was required by the Reno Events Committee as part of giving us a permit to do the event.

What event am I talking about?

A Bicycle Parade

It’s the Bicycle Awareness Parade – a ride to celebrate new bicycle-friendly laws!

All the bicyclists in Northern Nevada (wishful thinking here) will be riding from Reno City Hall Plaza to Sparks City Hall and back on October 1st, from 9:30 until noon. Besides just having the fun of a big bike ride, we’re riding to bring awareness to the new laws affecting bicyclists that go into effect on that day:
• Prohibiting hand-held cell phone use and texting,
• Requiring motorists to give a bicyclist 3 feet of space when passing from behind, and
• Increasing penalties for a motorist causing injury to a bicyclist or pedestrian to those of reckless driving.

Imagine several hundred bicyclists, some in “3 feet please” jerseys or t-shirts, riding to promote bicycle safety! Won’t that make a big story on the evening news, telling motorists that a change in driving behavior is required!

You say you don’t have a “3 feet please” jersey to wear in the Parade? That’s okay, of course. But if you want one, there’s still time to shop online. Get a jersey or t-shirt from http://www.3feetplease.com. If you put “GoNV” in the discount box, $5.00 of the purchase price will go to the Nevada Bicycle Coalition to support safe bicycling in Nevada.

So save the date – October 1st, 9:30 ‘til noon – for a great, celebratory bicycle ride with all of your friends and neighbors.

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The PROBLEM

Nevada’s legislature passed two bicycle-friendly laws in the last session that become effective on October 1, 2011. The problem is that very few motorists know about them:

AB328 – increases penalties for a motorist who causes a pedestrian or bicyclist injury

SB248 – requires motorists to allow at least 3 feet when passing a bicyclist from behind

These laws require motorist to change behavior so it’s important that they know about them (Duh!). However, no one has enough money to mount a big advertising campaign. So, how will motorists learn about their new responsibilities?

The OPPORTUNITY

The best way to reach the motoring public, and the cheapest, is through local news coverage. Let’s do something that will be fun and attract lots of press attention. Here’s the plan:

Let’s have a parade! Imagine 200 or more bicyclists, all riding together at a relaxed, fun pace, smiling, laughing and celebrating a Nevada that is more bicycle friendly than ever. What could be a more positive image for an occasionally hostile motoring public?

On Saturday October 1st at 9:30am, let’s get every person in Reno and Sparks with a bicycle to meet at the Reno City Hall Plaza at S. Virginia and First Street. At 10:30 we’ll ride from there to the Sparks City Hall. As the bicyclists assemble, the news media can interview the bicyclists and the politicians that support bicycling and get some good pictures of people enjoying their bicycles. The actual bicycle ride from Reno to Sparks will be mostly on 4th Street and Prater Way. The return route will be mostly on the Truckee River Bike Path. It’s about an 8 mile round trip.

Ideally, there will be about 100 bicyclist wearing their “3 Feet Please” jerseys or t-shirts. Wouldn’t that make a great group picture?

Don’t have yours yet? Order one today at http://www.3feetplease.com. If you put “GoNV” in the discount code box, $5.00 of the purchase price will go to the Nevada Bicycle Coalition to support efforts to promote safe bicycling in Nevada.

To add to the fun, the Nevada Bicycle Coalition is going to give away a “3 Feet Please” jersey to one person of the first 50 bicyclists to arrive at the Plaza. So come early to pick up a prize ticket!
Thanks to the Reno Bike Project for co-sponsoring this event.

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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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Bale of Hay in the Road?

NCWV wrote: This law sounds awful. It is difficult to enforce and in some instances could be dangerous. What about areas where the bicyclists are riding up a two lane road where there is no bike lane going a lot slower than the other traffic. Is a car supposed to cross the yellow line just to pass? The bicyclist shouldn’t be there in the first place. The law should not punish drivers in all cases as it is not always their fault. The whole situation should be solved with education and more bike lanes not with punishment.

“Is a car supposed to cross the yellow line just to pass?”

The short answer is, “Yes”. If the obstacle in the road was a bale of hay or a farm tractor blocking the lane, wouldn’t a motorist cross the yellow line just to get around it? In rural Nevada, most motorists would cross the yellow line at 70 miles per hour and think nothing of it. The alternative in many cases is to come dangerously close to the bicycle rider. It’s a misconception that a motorist can NEVER legally cross the yellow line.

“The bicyclist shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

The only roads where bicycles are prohibited in Nevada are limited access freeways. It would be nice if there were a network of connected bike lanes but today a bicyclist has to share roads without bike lanes to get from point A to point B.

“The law should not punish drivers in all cases as it is not always their fault.”

This is a law governing how close a motorist can come to a bicyclist when passing in an otherwise lawful manner. I’m a motorist and a bicyclist and I can’t imagine a situation where, as a motorist, I would be forced to pass with less than 3 feet clearance. That’s because I can’t imagine a situation in which I would be forced to pass. Is this a “the devil made me do it” situation? In every situation where, as a bicyclist, I “took the lane” and blocked cars from passing me, I delayed motorist behind me less than one minute. In every case, I “took the lane” because the lane was too narrow for us to safely share it side by side.

“The whole situation should be solved with education…”

Exactly! The point of this legislation is to let motorists know that less than three feet is too close. I don’t think anyone is expecting a lot tickets to be written.

“… and more bike lanes…” Amen, brother!

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Five weeks and the snow is still piled up everywhere. If you live in Minnesota, this may sound like a wimpy complaint but for Reno, it’s a long time. And the bicycling in Reno is somewhere between dangerous and impossible, assuming of course that you don’t mind cycling in 6 layers of clothing.

Last year I gave a lunch time talk to a chapter of the American Public Works Association. One of the questions was, “Why don’t bicyclists stay in their bike lanes?” At the time I answered with the Nevada statutes which makes it illegal for a motorist to drive in the bike lane but does not restrict bicyclists to the bike lane. And then I followed with bicyclist having to avoid sand, broken glass and other debris in the bike lane to avoid a fall or flat time. I failed to mention snow.

Of course, the safest place to ride a road bike on the road is in a bike lane. In a 1998 study for the Transportation Research Board, William Moritz of the University of Michigan compared the safety of different bicycling facilities and found:

Facility Type Crashes per Million Miles of Exposure
Bike lanes

16

Signed bike routes

20
Major streets without bike facilities

25

Minor streets without bike facilities

37

Shared use paths

55

Sidewalks

637

So when the snow piles melt and the street sweeper has swept, stay in those bike lanes and off of the sidewalk. Don’t become a statistic yourself. In the meantime, take care and good luck!

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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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