Promise kept

We’d like to congratulate the Regional Transportation Commission for taking some steps to follow through on its promise to make Reno’s streets more bicycle friendly. There’s still more to be done, but we know the day will someday come when the streets of Reno will be truly safe for bike riders.

We know this is inevitable because there are actions happening in the world that will force the issue. Climate change is not just a government conspiracy to … what was it again? … enslave the population or give more power to the United Nations? Peak oil, which is when we use up the planet’s accessible oil resources, is here, and what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect example of what will occur as humans move into harsher environments to get the ever more valuable oil. Nearly every part of an automobile will be pricier as oil and the things made from it, like plastics, become more expensive, and that market force alone will decrease the number of automobiles.

There will likely be fewer cars on the road in this generation.

So, the restriping of Arlington Avenue and California Avenue and other roads makes perfect sense to us. And, after a few weeks commuting down Arlington, it’s easy to see the road diet has had both negative and positive effects on road users.

For one, wait times for motorists looking to turn onto Arlington, for example, have increased. And during busy times, when people are most likely to be impatient, waits are the longest. Traffic lights that only run during peak commute hours may be necessary but that will require study. Also, something needs to done to inform road users that these are indeed bike lanes. Maybe paint some bicycles in the lane or the words “bike lane” because some people are still driving on them. On California, more signs are needed to warn of lane reductions.

On the bright side, Arlington in particular seems safer. It is much more difficult for motorists to speed when the line of cars in front of them is going the speed limit. During the school year, children will be safer at the schools, since those driving the legal speed limit will also constrain the leadfoots behind them to 15 mph. It also seems obvious that it’s easier for motorists to drive safely on a single lane.

It’s hard to estimate whether there are more bicyclists on the road. Anecdotally, it seems as though bike traffic may have increased, but that may just be that some people have moved off the sidewalks or that the special lanes have increased visibility of the bike riders. It’s going to take some time before both motorists and bike riders are comfortable with the switch, but redoing the striping is exactly what it will take to help the change. After all, it took years for automobiles to push bicycles almost completely off the roads.

So congratulations to Renoites and the RTC. While there is still a long road to travel before Reno’s roads are truly bike and automobile friendly—we need to make an investment in a traffic-light-synchronization program that works—this is a great step.