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Reno to establish pedestrian safety zones in downtown area


Pedestrian safety zones, which are designed to reduce the rate of people being injured or killed by vehicles, will be established at three locations in downtown Reno.

The proposed locations follow requirements set forth in the Reno Municipal Code, as well as those prescribed by the Nevada Department of Transportation. The pedestrian safety zones approved Wednesday by the Reno City Council are at the following locations:

  • East Fourth Street from North Center Street to Record Street
  • East Sixth Street from North Center Street to Record Street
  • North Sierra Street from West Third Street to Ridge Street

Reno Police Lt. Scott Shaw said the designated areas represent small zones where a relatively large number of pedestrian accidents occur. Aside from inattentive drivers, other factors that influence crashes with pedestrians include the high concentration of bars, restaurants and casinos. He noted more than 20 bars, 40 restaurants and 10 casinos are in the vicinity.

“There’s a lot of pedestrian generators in this specific area we think are contributing to the high rate of pedestrian crashes,” Shaw said. “That’s one of the reasons we started to focus on this area when we got this project underway.”

Signage would mark the beginning and end of each zone. A separate sign notifying motorists of higher fines for violations would be located before the pedestrian zone.

Anyone convicted of a traffic offense within a pedestrian safety zone may face a $1,000 fine, six months in jail, or 120 hours of community service.

A man collided with an RPD vehicle after running into traffic in downtown Reno Saturday night. Image: Eric Marks
A man collided with an RPD vehicle after running into traffic in downtown Reno, Nev., on June 13, 2020. Image: Eric Marks

The region has seen a rise in pedestrian-related crashes in recent years.

The Governors Highway Safety Association found that 2020 preliminary data placed Nevada seventh in the nation for rates of pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population. There were 314 fatal crashes statewide in 2020—an 18.5% increase from a year earlier—and 83 of them involved pedestrians.

The report showed that pedestrian safety zones are a cost-effective multidisciplinary approach when using education, engineering and enforcement measures.

Washoe County had 13 pedestrian fatalities in 2020, down 13.3% from 2019. Reno had 22 fatal crashes in 2020 and eight included pedestrians.

“I think there are ways to be much more pedestrian friendly,” Councilman Devon Reese said. “Cities have largely been built for cars and we’re figuring out that’s perhaps not the most environmentally-friendly, nor is it safety-wise friendly. So we have much work to do ahead.”

City officials said these zones would be new to northern Nevada, so a public outreach program is planned to make people aware. Also, city staff suggested imposing a two-week grace period when the zones first open.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.




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