Posts Tagged ‘Safety’

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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One of my favorite sayings is, “Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity or ignorance.” This moral came to mind recently on a bicycle ride with some friends.

My wife and I were riding in the neighborhood with a new rider, one with a family where every member at least owned one bicycle. When my wife and I stopped at an intersection with a stop sign, this surprised new rider asked, “Why did you stop?” To us, the obvious answer was, “There’s a stop sign”.

I had always assumed that bicyclists coasted or “blew through” stop signs because they didn’t want to lose any momentum, they were feeling rebellious or otherwise just found it inconvenient to obey the law. It never occurred to me that they might just not know that the road signs for motorists also applied to bicyclists.

The Nevada revised statutes say, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway has all of the rights and is subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle ….” Obviously, there are some provisions that are specific to just bicyclists and some that apply only to motorists. Generally though, the Rules of the Road apply to bicyclists as well as motorists.

That means stopping at stop signs, at least to the extent most motorists do in my neighborhood, by which I mean slow to a crawl and yield before proceeding. That means stopping at red traffic signals and waiting until they turn green.

Why is this important? Very, very few bicycle motor vehicle collisions happen because the bicyclist has ignored a traffic signal or stop sign. It’s not a safety issue. Why it’s important is that it is a matter of etiquette.

Society’s relationships and interactions are lubricated by etiquette and no more so than when operating a motor vehicle. Every motorist knows the Rules of the Road, a kind of etiquette, follows them and, as a result, everyone gets to where they are going without crashing into each other. When a bicyclist uses poor highway etiquette, he’s rude. When bicyclists ask for a little more space on the road, be it a bike lane or a 3 feet passing rule, motorists remember being treated rudely and are less likely to give up a piece of the road, to which they wrongly or rightly feel solely entitled.

So… the message here is, “Don’t be rude on the road.” Vehicle rules apply to bicycles, too.

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The 3 Foot Passing Bill, SB248, was passed by the Legislature, signed by the Governor and will become the law in Nevada on October 1, 2011. It’s pretty simple really. Motorists must pass a bicyclist no closer than 3 feet.

Here’s the language in the bill:

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:
Existing law prohibits the driver of a motor vehicle from overtaking and passing a bicycle or an electric bicycle unless the driver can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle or electric bicycle. (NRS 484B.270) This bill requires a driver of a motor vehicle to overtake and pass a bicycle or an electric bicycle proceeding in the same direction by: (1) moving the vehicle into the immediate left lane, if there is more than one lane traveling in the same direction and it is safe to move into the lane; or (2) passing to the left of the bicycle or electric bicycle at a distance of not less than 3 feet from the bicycle or electric bicycle.

Critics say that it’s nearly impossible for traffic police to enforce this law. For me, feeling how close the FedEx trucks come when passing me, requiring a motorist to not pass “unless he can do so safely (current law)” must be not nearly specific enough. So it’s about education, not enforcement. So how will motorists get educated about this new law?

Get one at 3feetplease.com

You can help promote awareness of the new law by wearing a “3 Feet Please” t-shirt or bicycle jersey. They’re available at http://www.3feetplease.com, $15 for the t-shirt, $60 for the jersey, short or long sleeve. The jerseys run just a little bit small, so if you wear a loose fitting medium, this one will be fitted. If you put “GoNV” in the discount code box, $5.00 of your purchase will go to the Nevada Bicycle Coalition to help promote safe bicycling in Nevada and more bicycle friendly legislation in the future.

Here’s a link to the new law – http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/76th2011/Bills/SB/SB248_EN.pdf

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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


Signed bike routes

Major streets without bike facilities


Minor streets without bike facilities


Shared use paths




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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Looking at all of this snow got me search the Web for ideas for winter bicycling. I found this on the NPR.org site to share with you, from a 2007 blog posting by Jill Horner. Look out for those moose holes. – Terry

Jill Homer of Juneau, Alaska, is training to ride 350 miles in the human-powered Iditarod. The race, which starts in February, follows the same route used by the famous dog sled teams.

People sometimes say, “Wow, riding a bike on snow — that’s great. But how does it work?” Snow-biking can be different from regular cycling, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for riding a bike on snow.

1. Think surface area: If you’ve ever used snowshoes before, you know that all that mass at the bottom of your feet can mean the difference between coasting atop power or wading knee-deep in it. Snow bikes work they same way. They incorporate wide tires with a flat profile in order to distribute bulk (you) as evenly as possible, allowing for maximum floatation.

2. Fat is the new skinny. As long as there have been bicycles, there have been weight-weenie types trying to shave grams off wheels. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a spoke-free wheel sporting tires as thin as razors. But once you slice into snow, skinny tires might as well be razors. Snow-bikers know that fat means float, and have been developing bicycles to accommodate increasingly larger wheels for years. I predict that not too far in the future, someone will build a bicycle frame with room for motocross tires. Look for it.

3. There is no shame in walking. Cyclists hate to admit when they come to a hill or an obstacle they just can’t conquer. I have seen cyclists blow out their knees and face-plant over logs just to avoid suffering the indignity of getting off the bike and walking. Snow-bikers have no such pretensions. We know that bikes are not ready-made for snow, and vice versa. If snow is too soft, or too deep, or too wet, we simply step off and amble along until we can ride again. We learn to enjoy it, like walking a dog, but without the constant slobbering.

4. When in doubt, let air out. Often, snowy trails are what we would call “marginally ridable.” By letting air out of tires, you can increase the surface area and improve your floatation. Sometimes it means riding on nearly flat tires at a pace a snail wouldn’t envy, but, despite what I said in the previous paragraph, it’s still better than walking.

5. Learn your snow types. It’s been said that Eskimos have dozens of different words of snow. Snow bikers also understand the myriad varieties: powder, sugar, corn, hard-pack, sandy, slushy, and so on. Each type comes with its own challenges. But understanding the nature of the white stuff you are trying to ride atop, you can adjust your riding and wheels to meet the conditions.

6. Don’t be disappointed when you fail to set a land-speed record. Snow, like sand, puts up a lot of resistance, and snow bikers are not known for their speed. I have often heard accounts of cyclists who said felt like they were careening down a hill, only to look down and see they hadn’t even breached the 10 mph barrier. In snow races, 10 mph is considered fast. Eight mph is average. Six mph is respectable, and four mph isn’t uncommon. When asked to describe the nature of the 2006 Iditarod Invitational, which was plagued by cold temperatures and fresh snow, third-place finisher Jeff Oatley said, “It was about as intense as a 2.5 mph race can be.”

7. All brakes are not created equal. When contemplating what brakes to put on their bikes, cyclists have all kinds of reasons to choose between disc or rim. But snow bikers, who often find their rims coated in a thick layer of ungrippable ice, have the best reason of all: Rim brakes could mean an icy death by gravity. Go with disc.

8. Re-lubricate and be free. There is nothing that will slow down a snow biker faster than having their hubs freeze up, which is always a possibility when the mercury drops below zero. We have to lube up our moving parts with a special low-temperature grease, sold widely in cold regions like Fairbanks and Minnesota.

9. Stay away from moose tracks. Common injures for road cyclists include road rash and head injuries. Mountain bikers have problems with broken collar bones and bad knees. Alaska snow bikers are always being tripped up by the deep, narrow holes moose leave when they walk through the snow. Avoiding these minefields will help curb post-holing injuries like broken ankles.

10. Stay away from dogs. We talk a lot about fear of angry moose, grumpy bears and rabid wolves, but our most likely animal to have a dangerous encounter with remains the sled dog. They approach so quickly and quietly that we sometimes don’t even have time to jump off the trail. A collision can be disastrous — imagine tangled lines, confused canines and a lot of sharp teeth. Add to that an annoyed musher who’s likely packing heat, and you stir up the kind of fear that convinces snow-bikers to give those racing puppies a wide berth.

Jill Homer blogs at Up in Alaska.

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New Right Turn Signal

New Right Turn Signal

AB247 becomes Nevada law on October 1, 2009. Here’s the gist of it:


Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

Existing [Nevada] law provides that every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is generally subject to the provisions of chapter 484 of NRS which apply to drivers of vehicles. (NRS 484.503) Existing law requires the driver of a vehicle to signal an intention to turn from a direct course continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled in a business or residential district and not less than the last 300 feet traveled in any other area. (NRS 484.343) Section 2 of this bill exempts the operator of a bicycle from these requirements and instead requires the operator only to signal his intention to turn at least one time, unless the bicycle is in a designated turn lane or when safe operation of the bicycle requires the operator to keep both hands on the bicycle. Existing law provides for the methods of giving signals by hand and arm. (NRS 484.347) Section 3 of this bill authorizes an operator of a bicycle to signal for a right turn by extending his right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.

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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.



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

All of McCarran Blvd is now maintained by the state.

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Wow, long time no post. But ski season is dwindling away (sniff sniff) and I can almost take the toe warmers off my cycling shoes, so its time for some bikeblogging.

Now, I don’t try to hide the sad fact that I’m a fair weather commuter. There are no fenders on my bike, and if I have to wear a face mask to stay warm, its Subaru weather. But these blustery days will soon be “gone with the Schwinn” and I can see all over Reno that I’m not the only one dusting off my Trek and getting back into the spin of things. (ha.)

Riding a bike is, well, like riding a bike…it all comes back to you. But the finer points of cycling through urban road systems may take some review after the ski season (although its not entirely unlike navigating the trees on the side of Proletariat Bowl, so some of us should be good). When in doubt watch this video and strictly abide by the following tips.

Just kidding I meant this one:

Commuting Necessities:

1) Helmet. I know, I know, helmet hair = weirdo, and may not help you attract the kind of attention you were hoping for over drinks at the Imperial. But when I ride, the chances are too great that showing off my new highlights = being a vegetable, so I’ll take my chances and rely on my winning personality.

2) Clothing. Oh, I don’t mean to suggest that clothing itself isn’t optional, that of course is personal preference. But when riding at night, its oh-so-cool to be oh-so-visible. No, chartreuse isn’t on my list of complementary colors for my skin tone either. But even white is pretty reflective at night, and you should definitely make sure your messenger bag has some reflect-o-taping to catch the driver’s eye.

3) Cool. Noah, RBP co-founder, (clearly an authority on the subject,) gives insight into the source of his stature. “I find being cool helps with my ride,” he says. I think he’s right. My hard CORE commuter friend Earl finds similar success riding to work in a three piece suit with a bunch of camera junk strapped to his back. And at the risk of reviling trade secrets, I’ve heard that messenger bags with a helmet strapped to the front is a great tool for navigating crowded bars. It either gives you the opening to buy someone a drink, or pushes them into their own drink, which ever works in your favor.

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Cyclists meet with law enforcementAt first glance one would think a room filled with top ranking law enforcement and disgruntled cyclists would quickly erupt into hysteria, but thanks to the cooperation and good intentions of everyone involved, tonight’s meeting with “the chiefs” to discuss the perceived bias of law enforcement against the cyclist was a complete success.

Thanks to the cooperation and initiative of Sheriff Haley and our very own Terry McAfee, we cycle commuters finally got to let it out, all the hoots, the near misses, the “I didn’t see you”s, the “get off the road!’s,” and why it seems like there’s nothing being done to keep the peace. We got to hear the other side of the story too. The fact that 1.2 officers per 1000 people make it pretty difficult for officers to respond to every complaint of erratic driving. Our goal was to begin a much needed conversation with the people who can make our commute safer, and I think we got the point across. So, thanks Sheriff Haley, thanks Lt. Donnelly and thanks everyone for attending and speaking up and making it a complete success. We look forward to working together in the future. You can find Heidi’s notes of the meeting and more pictures under the “Advocacy” page.


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