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City Council Votes on Midtown’s Virginia Street Design; Bike Lanes Out


Marlow Kulley of the Great Streets Coalition speaks in front of City Council. Photo: Emmett Edwards.
Marlow Kulley of the Great Streets Coalition speaks in front of City Council. Photo: Emmett Esnard.

By Bob Conrad and Emmett Esnard

The Reno City Council decided 5-2 in favor of the Regional Transportation Commission’s option B for the redesign of Virginia Street through Midtown.

Option B preserves much of the on-street parking for existing businesses but does not include the bike lanes that were in another option.

Many Midtown business owners were in favor of option B. The Great Streets Coalition (GSC) wanted to see more off-street parking and bike lanes on Virginia Street.

[Clarifications: According to reader Heather (see comments, below), “South Virginia Street has been ‘sectioned’ off in order to deal with different widths of the street in various areas. Option B refers only to the area from Liberty to Vassar. The narrowest section of Midtown. Option B includes a shared travel lane for bikes, cars and buses, and calls for a lowered speed limit. Elsewhere on S. Virginia St. there will be room for all of it.” Reader David on Facebook said that option B removes more on-street parking than the other two options, based on RTC’s Comparison of Midtown Alternates slide presented at the meeting.]

Councilmembers Jenny Brekhus and David Bobzien voted against option B.

“We believe that a great street creates a great place that is safe, functional and enjoyable for everyone — a place to be, and not to drive through,” said Marlowe Kulley of GSC, a group that was advocating for more parking on Virginia Street’s side streets in the narrow section of Midtown, bike lanes through downtown, wider sidewalks, trees and more connectivity with the University.

Paul Doege of Recycled Records speaks in front of the City Council. Photo: Emmett Esnard.

Brekhus spoke at length before the vote about other metropolitan areas, such as Portland and New York City, that launched expansive, dedicated bike lanes and all saw a boom in their economies as a result.

Bobzien said there is room for compromise.

“I for one think that there’s a lot of opportunity … to expand the pool of parking that’s right there … near seconds’ walk of a lot businesses that have this concern — they need parking to survive,” he said. He ultimately voted against option B, indicating the need to explore more off-street parking.

The City Council opted to choose RTC’s option B with GSC’s parameters in mind.

“It’s great to see everyone really wanting to compromise,” said Mayor Hillary Schieve of the representatives of the Great Streets Coalition, Midtown citizens and business owners. “You guys are the ones that make it a great street.”

Emmett Esnard
Emmett Esnard
When Emmett isn't interviewing people in his too-loud, New Yorker style of brain-picking, he is pushing veggies on addictive personalities at a farmer's market, doing odd forms of calisthenics, researching how to live to be 300, or chipping away glacially at his first novel.He also enjoys hot sauce, comic books, and living outside the box as a militantly liberal social progressive (insert other synonym here) that still thinks guns are cool and plans lackadaisically for the apocalypse by learning survival skills (read: home economics). He also dabbles in martial arts and nude portrait drawing. Volunteer models are welcome.He thinks third person mini bios are fun. He wrote this.