A $150,000 study proposed for Wednesday’s Reno City Council meeting is being protested by bike advocates.
The Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance says the study diverts from a long-proposed Center Street bike corridor that, the group said, was hijacked by downtown casino properties that want the bike route to go through Virginia Street.
“This project has been studied over and over as the most practical location for a connection between UNR and midtown because it can be done with minimal impact to traffic and it is already under design,” Manny Becerra announced on the Alliance’s website. “Unfortunately, the City and RTC have put a pause on the approved project at the urging of The Row Casinos [Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus] to study a bike path on Virginia Street instead. This is causing months and even years of delays.”
It’s true the project has been discussed, and studied, for years.
This Is Reno reported in 2015 on the bike track that was slated for Center Street to connect bicyclists from South Virginia Street to the university.
At that time, then-Coucil member Paul McKenzie said, “Since we can’t get it built into RTC’s (Virginia Street) plan, we have to come up with an alternative on our own. If we’re going to create a bike route, we have to create connectivity between Midtown and the university. Bike lanes shouldn’t dead-end.”
The Bicycle Alliance said the wait is too long as it is.
“Over the next few months, we will engage in a constant drumbeat, telling the Reno City Council and RTC to keep moving forward with what has been approved, budgeted, and shown to work: the Center Street Cycle-track,” Becerra stated online.
A city staff report noted the study will focus on Virginia Street downtown.
“City officials and regional partners are seeking to create a vibrant and inviting downtown core in which people will make as their destination to socialize, recreate, dine, and shop,” staff wrote. “Virginia Street is the main north-south arterial that runs through the heart of downtown Reno. “While numerous studies have been completed in the past five years, few of them have focused on Virginia Street, especially how it relates directly to the Downtown core. More importantly, they have not provided an overall vision for the function and character of Virginia Street.”
The $150,000 will be used for an urban design first to study the area and facilitate “robust stakeholder engagement.”
It is proposed that the study be completed and presented back to the council by Dec. 1, 2021. The Washoe County Regional Transportation Commission will pay up to half of the costs for the study.
An RTC study from 2019 already identified bike and pedestrian needs on Center, Virginia and Sierra Streets. Of the options proposed in that study, one bike track was proposed on Virginia Street while other options identified Center Street as having a two-way track, or one-way tracks on Center and Sierra Streets.
“Public opinion was clear in the studies of the Center Street project, that we need it now to slow the effects of climate change, solve traffic and parking, improve traffic safety, improve the local economy, put more money in people’s pockets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Becerra added.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.