Fourth wheels

We wanted to have an editorial supporting marriage equality for all adult human beings, but we’ve offered our support on this topic so often, the fact that a seated president said he personally supports gay marriage though he also still supports states having the right to discriminate against same-sex couples didn’t warrant the ink.

Then there was some discussion about the fundamental human right to end one’s own life in the wake of Junior Seau’s death. But a rousing editorial in favor of suicide fell flat in the newsroom.

But bike lanes on Fourth Street and Prater Way is right up our alley. Recall Brad Bynum’s feature story, “Positively Fourth Street,” last week? It highlighted efforts among stakeholders to somehow address the need for a direct bike route from west Reno to east Sparks. And frankly, it makes a lot of sense for both cities.

There were a couple options that weren’t deeply explored, though. For one, the Truckee River bike path already exists. The problem is it’s a multi-use path. It’s always been a bit sketchy at times, and since the Reno City Council moved the homeless people of the streets, it’s sketchier. However, with improvements like a couple of feet widening for bikes only, winter snow removal, solar-powered lights and maybe even a citizens’ group to monitor criminal activity, that bike path could accomplish everything the 4th Street/Prater Way Corridor Study seeks to do—without stop signs, stop lights or automobiles—at least as far east as Kietzke Lane, where it could reconnect to Prater.

Another idea was presented in the story, namely to route bicyclists on Sixth Street through downtown. It intersects Fourth Street from the north at Sage Street. The idea was pretty quickly dismissed by the participants of the bike ride, but it really deserves a second look. True, Fourth Street and Prater Way are both substantially developed with retail businesses and watering holes, and the Reno Bike Project is there as well, but Sixth Street gets a lot less use, and has a lot more potential for businesses that could cater to bicyclists. There’s more potential for greening up with trees and xeriscaping or rest stops. And again, there’s a lot less motorized traffic. And finally, when the casinos shut down Fourth Street, as they do throughout the summer or when the mood strikes, Sixth Street generally remains a viable way to get through downtown.

Reno is being pulled slowly but surely out of its 20th century gambling heyday mindset. If there is no appetite to make the downtown city friendlier to adults, then it must be made friendlier to families—at least so they can pass through on their way to work or recreation. The Regional Transportation Commission is doing the right thing by studying this now. If preparations are made now, then the transportation commission will not be hamstrung by current stakeholders, as they were when they were designing the new mass transit bus routes.

Staffmembers at this newspaper are keeping our fingers crossed that the RTC is successful with its federal grant proposal to do the project sooner rather than later. However, if this grant falls through, there will be others in the years between now and 2030, and the agency should work diligently and quickly to find funding to make the dream of a bicycle friendly thoroughfare between west Reno and east Sparks a reality.