With new bike lanes on local roads, and more in the works, it’s time to celebrate the bicycle
In the last few weeks, Reno has suddenly felt more bike-friendly. There are new bike lanes on prominent roads—including Arlington and California avenues—and even more in the works.
“They’re awesome!” says Kyle Kozar of the new bike lanes. He’s the co-founder and co-director of the Reno Bike Project, a nonprofit bicycling advocacy organization. “I’m a bicyclist; of course I like them.”
Arlington and California are among the many local roads receiving bicycle-friendly face-lifts. Up until a couple of weeks ago, those avenues had four lanes for automobile traffic, but they were recently repaved to include just two moving traffic car lanes, a turn lane in the middle, and two bike lanes on either side.
The new layout of these streets is a precursor to the Reno Sparks Bicycle Pedestrian Plan, a collaboration between the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County and transportation consulting firm Fehr & Peers, with support from local governments, to produce a long-term plan to make the region more bicycle friendly.
The reduced number of lanes is intended to have an overall traffic-calming effect, in addition to the many benefits for bicyclists.
“If we provide a bike path, that makes it a little bit safer for them, and puts them in their own lane and has a calming effect on the road,” says RTC project manager Marchon Miller.
“The number one thing that makes motorists more aware of bicyclists is bike lanes,” says Kozar.
The Reno Sparks BPP is soliciting community feedback for future bike lane and multiuse path projects on their new website, renosparksbpp.com.
“There are several locations on the website where you can add comments,” says Fehr & Peers associate Katy Cole. But the website is not the only place to submit community feedback.
“We do have a Facebook page,” says Cole. “We’re also Tweeting, and we have developed apps for smart phones—an iPod app, an Android app, and a Blackberry app—where people can download the app and take photos of where they want a facility or where they like a facility, and they can give us input on what they like and don’t like in the community. When you do it through the app, it uploads it to an overall map, using the GPS on the phone, so we can see the comments throughout the region in a map format.”
The goal of the project is to develop a list of prioritized bicycle and pedestrian projects for the next 20 years.
“It’s really important to get input from the community who’s out there actually using the roads for cycling,” says Cole. “They have a really good feel about where connections need to be made.”Hot August Bikes
One of the biggest events of Reno Bike Project’s annual calendar is coming up on Aug. 5-6, Hot August Bikes. The two-day event will feature the second annual Gleaming the Tube Bicycle Show and Shine on Aug. 5, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Nevada Museum of Art, a tie-in with the NMA’s monthly beer-and-music First Thursday event. The show and shine is an opportunity for gearheads and bike geeks to show off their bikes and win prizes and bragging rights.
The second night will feature a large group bike ride, starting at West Street Market at 5:30 p.m. and ending at Wingfield Park an hour later. (Presumably, the course will not be direct, since Wingfield and West Street Market are only about two blocks apart.) The ride will be followed by a beer and film festival organized by New Belgium Brewing Company, the brewers of Fat Tire, the popular bicycle-themed amber ale. The touring film festival, called Clips of Faith, features amateur shorts curated by the brewing company, and there will be unusual New Belgium brews on tap, with all proceeds going to the Reno Bike Project.
“That’s part of our mission, to perpetuate the coolness of bicycles,” says Kozar.
Hot August Bikes is kind of like a bike version of Hot August Nights, the concurrent classic car gathering, which is rumored to move eventually to Long Beach, Calif.
“It’s sad in many ways, happy in others,” says Kozar of the possibility that HAN could leave Reno. “Much as I like bikes, I think old cars are awesome.”
Hot August Bikes began three years ago partially in reaction to the noise, traffic congestion and pollution caused by HAN, but Kozar says that, unlike other big group rides, like Critical Mass, the event isn’t aimed at disrupting traffic and protesting the excessive use of automobiles. This year, the ride will even include escorts from the Reno Police Department.
“It’s more just an excuse to come together for a big community ride at the end of the summer,” says Kozar. “It’s a fun group ride. It’s not politically motivated. It’s about coming together as a group, not standing up to the man.” He pauses for a second. “You know, wear your helmet.”
The Reno Bike Project is also currently selling discounted used bikes intended for Burning Man. The organization hosts a weekly ladies’ night, Women with Wrenches, the last Monday of every month. And every Wednesday is Dan’s Night, when volunteer instructor Dan Ruby, moonlighting from his job as associate director of the planetarium, teaches free bicycle maintenance.
“Dan will personally hold your hand and guide you through your bicycle problem,” says Kozar.
Many local cyclists and observers, including Kozar, have noticed a steady increase in the number of bikes on the road over the past 10 years.
“People aren’t as hyped about cars,” he says. “The whole world is changing in this way, and it’s a good thing.”
The renewed interest in cycling is rooted in, among other things, economics—it’s cheaper to ride a bike—as well as health and environmental concerns.
“There’s always been a bicycling culture here, but now, in general, it’s becoming more mainstream,” says Kozar. For example, the still-active Reno Wheelmen cycling club was founded in 1896, and the Tour de Nez bicycle race has been an annual tradition for nearly 20 years. “Bicycling has been around forever, since way before cars.”