Like riding a bike
A growing bicyclist population demands more bicycle safety measures
To ride on the street and risk it with huge trucks or to ride on the sidewalk and risk plowing over a pedestrian?
These are the choices bicyclists often face when there aren’t bike lanes on their routes.
“People need to feel safe when they’re riding,” said Scott Hall, board member of the Reno Bike Project. “This goes for everyone from kids to moms with kids to grandparents.”
Hall said having more bike lanes throughout the Reno/Sparks area will help accomplish this and promote bicycling. He said the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) has helped by holding open houses where the public can hear and comment on the plans for the city, which include adding bike safety measures.
The RTC has just extended the period for comments on their 2035 Regional Transportation Plan to April 19. This plan outlines goals to increase environmental sustainability by increasing the number of “Complete Streets” in the area. “Complete Streets” are streets that allow for all types of transportation easily and safely. As a part of this, there are 11 projects on different streets meant to integrate all types of transportation. Ten of these include adding bike facilities.
Hall has his own personal goal for bicycling. Through his involvement as a board member of the Reno Bike Project, a member of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee for the RTC, a member of the Nevada Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board and a board member of the Nevada Bicycle Coalition, he strives to increase the number of bicyclists in the area by half of a percent each year.
“Half of a percent is a lot of people, but other places have much higher rates,” Hall said. “I believe we can do it.”
Jean-Paul Torres, president of the Campus Cycling Coalition (CCC) at the University of Nevada, Reno, also wants to get more bike lanes and more people on bikes in the community. Torres works mostly on campus with the CCC to improve awareness of bike safety and to get students “excited about bikes, in general.”
Torres is also involved in doing this off campus in his free time. He explained that not everyone in the community is as excited about bikes as he and Hall are, and some have spoken out against bike lanes being implemented on large streets. Hall confirmed this and explained the concerns of these people.
“Motorists who are not familiar with bicycle use as transportation are the main opposition,” Hall said. “They’re more car-focused, and they’re just worried that they won’t be able to get around town. But if more people were on bicycles, that would actually decrease congestion.”
Torres explained that these motorists were vocal and aggressive about not having bike lanes implemented on Plumas Street when it was being planned. He also explained that “a few good, strong voices” were able to rally other bicyclists to speak up and sway some to their side.
“Right now, we are moving towards a more environmentally conscious state of mind,” Torres said. “This is almost necessary when you consider the fact that global warming is something that’s happening. It’s not something in the future. It’s happening, and we need to address it now. This is one of the things we can be doing, small, albeit, but every little step counts.”