Nevada Complete Streets bill – Good news and bad news

Muscle Powered led ride in Carson City

Muscle-Powered-organized ride in Carson City. The Nevada Complete Streets bill may provide funding for improvements such as bike lanes on this street in Carson City.

The Nevada Complete Streets bill was designed to provide a local funding source for transportation improvements to make local streets “Complete Streets” – streets that are safe and inviting for people using all transportation modes – walkers, baby strollers, people using canes, people using wheelchairs, bicyclist, buses, trolleys – rather than just for cars and trucks.

The bill would have provided an opt-out fee of $2 on all Nevada motor vehicle registrations, with the fee going directly to local transportation agencies to use only on complete streets projects – projects like bike lanes, curb ramps for wheelchairs, safety improvements near schools, bike boulevards and more.

The good news is that the bill passed.

The bad news is that the bill won’t be implemented until the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles finds some funding to make the changes to their computer system that would allow them to collect the fee.

Government by fiscal note

In the Nevada legislature, state agencies are asked to put a fiscal note on bills being considered by lawmakers. That means the agency goes through the bill and estimates how much it will cost to implement it. When the DMV looked at the Complete Streets bill, the agency estimated it would cost over $225,000 to implement the bill – this was mostly to pay for contract computer programmers.

This large a fiscal note, in these constrained times, is the death of a bill. In an Assembly committee hearing on the bill, Assemblyman Dave Bobzien expressed frustration at this, noting that he has seen more than one good bill go down because the DMV never has enough money to upgrade its computer system.

But bill supporters scrambled for a solution, and in meetings with DMV administrators, crafted amendments that would essentially put off implementation of the bill until funding was available for the DMV to add the complete streets fees to its system. The amended bill passed both houses unanimously and was signed by the governor.

Nevada Complete Streets advocates say they’re considering bringing the bill back to the 2015 legislative session, this time as a mandatory fee, which wouldn’t cost so much to implement.

Get Ready for Bike Month

Sheriff Kenny and Muscle Powered advisor Lee Harter getting ready to ride - "Celebrity Ride" 2012

Sheriff Kenny and Muscle Powered advisor Lee Harter getting ready to ride – “Celebrity Ride” 2012

Next month is Bike Month and there are plenty of activities planned in Carson City. We kick off on April 24 with Nevada Moves Day at the State Legislature. Muscle Powered is organizing exhibits in the front foyer of the legislative building highlighting Nevada groups working for better walking and biking. Participants include the Reno Bike Project, Safe Routes to Schools, the Carson Valley Trails Association and more. Muscle Powered members will invite legislators on a one-hour walk from 7 to 8 am starting from the legislative building, highlighting complete and not-so-complete streets in downtown Carson City. Exhibits will be up all day long – this is a good opportunity to visit what everyone during the session calls simply “the building,” so come down and say hello.

Rides

Next up is Bike Habitat’s Tour de Carson on Sunday, May 5. This popular ride starts from Bike Habitat in the Topsy Lane shopping center, circles Carson City, then ends up back at Bike Habitat for a barbecue.

Jenny Scanland is leading Slow Spokes Rides every Wednesday at 5:15 pm through June. Contact Jenny at  jscanland@charter.net, 684 2787

Several years ago Jeff Potter picked up then-City Supervisor Shelly Aldean on his tandem and they rode to work together on the first day of Bike To Work Week. This has evolved into a  Celebrity Ride where community leaders are invited to join Muscle Powered members on a leisurely hour-long ride around Carson City’s west side. Last year we were joined by the mayor, the sheriff, and several City department heads. This year we have invited state officials as well, so we’ll see who shows up. The Celebrity Ride will be on Tuesday, May 7.

One of the most popular events of Bike Month, the Cruiser Ride, will take place on Wednesday, May 15. Ride your prettiest bike. Costumes – for both bikes and riders – are not mandatory but welcome.

Vietnam Veterans of America family bike ride will take place on Saturday May 18, just before the end-of-Bike-Week party.

Artists

Local Gallery Artsy Fartsy is hosting a tricycle yard art contest. The trikes will be decorated by local artists, and will be sold by silent auction. The gallery will also show bicycle-themed art throughout the month.

Bike to Work Week

Of course the whole purpose of Bike Month – besides to have fun, which is always important – is to encourage biking for transportation. Bike to Work Week is May 13-17. Bike to Work DAY is May 17. We are organizing another Corporate/Agency Challenge this year, so you can compete for most miles ridden during the week as an individual or team, and get your chance to hold on to our enormous Bike Trophy for a year. Contact Jeff Potter through this site if you want to take part. Jenny Scanland is hosting a Bike Commute Station in the state’s Bryan Building (901 S. Stewart St) on May 1,2, and 3 to share tips for bike commuting. There will be free coffee for bike commuters on Bike to Work Day May 17 at various locations – check here or on our Facebook page for details.

Parties and other events

The End-of-Bike-Week Party will be Saturday, May 18, 3-6 pm, on West Telegraph Street by Telegraph Square in downtown Carson City. There will be a raffle including 2 cruiser bikes, bands, food trucks, tricycle races, and more.

This isn’t all. Other events include a bike social at Tap Shack, a women’s bike clinic led by Muscle Powered board member Cortney Bloomer, a bike movie at Sassafras, potentially a showing of Rick Gunn’s popular Soul Cycler slide show and more. Check back for info as these events are lined up.

“Road Diet” for Carson Street?

The notion of putting downtown Carson Street on a “Road Diet” has emerged again, this time championed by local business owner Doreen Mack. According to Dan Burden, a consultant who coined the term and now  travels the country helping cities figure out how to put their roads on a diet, “A road diet is anytime you take any lane out of a road.”

According to Streetfilms (www.streetfilms.org) “Road diets are good for pedestrians: They reduce speeding and make vehicle movements more predictable while shortening crossing distances. They’re good for cyclists: Many road diets shift space from car lanes to create bike lanes. They’re good for drivers: Less speeding improves safety for motorists and passengers, and providing left-turn pockets allows through traffic to proceed without shifting lanes or waiting behind turning vehicles.”

You might remember that NDOT gave Carson Street back to Carson City a couple of years ago. We – that is, broadly, the people of Carson City – own and maintain it now. The City planned to redesign Carson Street to make it more friendly to pedestrians  – and to downtown businesses – when the City undertook ownership. Unfortunately, that idea, like many others, was shelved during the  great recession that has had such a continuing impact on our state.

Meanwhile, downtown businesses suffer. Who wants to walk downtown except on Nevada Day or  during Taste of Downtown? Yet downtown businesses need pedestrian traffic to stay alive. As Doreen says, “Downtown parking and fence removal is essential for retail shop owners and customers. It creates synergy. When people see activity, they want to stop and see what is going on. In essence (a road diet) would create more foot traffic and bring in more business for the shops in surrounding areas, not to mention more jobs.

There will be a informational meeting about the Carson Street road diet on August 21 at 5 pm in the Sierra Room of the Carson City Community Center.

Oregon Manifest: The Future of City Bikes

Student Bike

by Anne Macquarie

I ride an eighteen-year-old black Trek road bike everywhere. It’s my commute bike, errand bike, road bike. It’s comfortable and I like it. I’m attached to it. But now, I’ve seen the future and my old bike might not be in it.
When I was up in Portland last week I stopped by the Museum of Contemporary Craft and saw some really nice custom bikes – prototypes for what might become the city bikes of the future, designed and built by some of the country’s finest bike crafters, including Ziba Design, Signal Cycles, Ideo, Rock Lobster Cycles, Geekhouse, Quixote Cycles, and more. The occasion was a competition to “design and build the ultimate modern utility bike”.
Here are some pictures:

This little green bike was designed and built by students at the university of Oregon. Judges called it fresh, creative, and the ideal campus bike

I loved this bike, second place prize winner designed and built by  Rob Tsunehiro of Tsunehiro Cyles and Silas Beebe of ID+. Its slightly retro look disguises some cool features, like a headlight attached to the stem right below the handlebars that casts light in a 360 degree arc, paniers that in some magical way become huge when you open them up, and  – this is my favorite – the frame paint is retroreflective, so the whole bike glows at night. Imagine seeing that if you’re driving down the road at night (It probably wouldn’t be a good transportation choice for a cat burgler though.)

There were lots more. The winning bikes will be at the Museum of Contemporary Craft until the end of October. Here’s the museum’s website: http://museumofcontemporarycraft.org/

For pictures of the bikes and their makers, go here: http://oregonmanifest.com/challenge/

These bikes make me happy. I hope some of them go into commercial production – Mr Tsunehiro and Mr Beebe, you hear me? – before I’m too old to ride my bike anymore.

Nevada Legislature Passes Two Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Bills

The Nevada Vulnerable  Highway Users Law and  3-Foot Passing Law will improve conditions for bicycling and walking in the Silver State

 Nevada’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost twice the US average.  Between 2000 and 2009 541 people were killed while walking in Nevada – this makes the state the eighth most dangerous in the nation for walking, according to Transportation for America’s 2011 “Dangerous by Design” report.  Conditions are also hazardous for bicyclists. Urban streets and rural roads with high speed limits, a discontinuous bicycle and pedestrian transportation system, and  careless drivers in a car-oriented culture make for dangerous conditions.

But Nevada also has a growing and active community of bicycle and pedestrian advocates who got together in the 2011 legislative session to work with legislators on two bills to improve cycling and walking conditions in the state.

Muscle Powered, a grassroots citizens organization advocating for better bicycling and walking conditions in Nevada’s capital city, decided last year to make the passage of a Vulnerable Users Law a priority for the Nevada 2011 legislative session.  The bill was modeled on Oregon’s law, which defines vulnerable users and describes additional penalties for careless driving when vulnerable users are affected.

Assemblywoman Teresa  Benitez Thompson  agreed to sponsor the bill.  Benitez Thompson’s district  – Reno’s “old southwest” neighborhood  – is home to many who commute by bicycle from their homes in her district to the University of Nevada and downtown offices and casinos. She saw the bill as directly affecting the wellbeing of her constituents. A coalition of advocates from Muscle Powered, the Nevada Bicycle Coalition, UNLV’s Safe Community Partnership, the Alta Alpina Cycling Club and others worked closely with Benitez Thompson in drafting the bill and providing testimony in committee hearings.

The Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill passed both houses unanimously and was signed by Governor Sandoval on June 13. The bill amends Nevada’s reckless driving laws to provide that a person who strikes a pedestrian or person who is riding a bicycle has committed reckless driving, and provides penalties from $250 up to $2,000 and driver’s license revocation.

Meanwhile,  in the Nevada Senate, Senators David Parks and John Lee were joined by Assemblyman Elliott  Anderson  and  nine other state senators in introducing a “3-Foot Passing” Law that requires drivers to change lanes, if there is an additional lane, or leave at least three feet of room while passing bicyclists.  This bill also passed both houses easily, and was signed by the governor on May 19.

Muscle Powered’s Kelly Clark, who headed the team that worked on the Vulnerable Users law, initiated it with the idea of making the streets safer. “It seems like the environment on the streets has been getting more angry, not less. This law is really just the beginning. It basically says striking a pedestrian or cyclist can be grounds for reckless driving and losing your license. There is still a lot of work to do: educating the public; getting cyclists to report incidents; getting law enforcement to take accidents seriously. This legislation is a small step, but it is a start.”

Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users Bill in Final Stretch

AB 328, the Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill passed the Nevada Assembly last week – unanimously! Next step is to the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, May 5 – tomorrow -  then if moved on by that committee, to the full Senate.
Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill
Bike Advocates Tim Rowe, Lee Harter, Kelly Clark,  Terry McAfee, and Anne Macquarie with Assemblywoman Teresa Benetiz Thompson, sponsor of AB 328, the Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users Law

The bill amends Nevada’s reckless driving statute to include striking a bicyclist or pedestrian as reckless driving, with penalties up to a $2,000 fine and license suspension.  While the law would not of course do everything to protect vulnerable users, its intent is to put drivers on notice that they are sharing the road with these users, and that there will be significant penalties for striking them.

Please consider going to the legislature website to support the bill: here’s an easy link to their public comment page. Post there, and your message will be passed on to your representative.

http://leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/A/Default.aspx

Carson City Freeway Corridor Multi-use Path Alignment Study Open House May 4, 2011

Carson City hired a consultant (Lumos & Associates) to identify and evaluate alignment alternatives for a non-motorized path along Carson City Freeway corridor.  The study area extends from Northridge Drive on the north end  – by the Boys and Girls Club – to Old Clear Creek Road on the south. Lumos evaluated many alignment options and came up with a recommended alignment. There will be an Open House on May  4th in the front lobby of the Community Center  from  5pm to 7pm. At 5:30 there will be a PowerPoint presentation on the alignment study process that was used to evaluate the alternatives and identify a recommended alternative. Please come to present your comments and voice your support for a dedicated multi-use path along the freeway corridor.

Long time Muscle Powered members will remember that it is this path that got Muscle Powered started as an organization. Basically, the path along the freeway was on the city’s bicycle plan; NDOT said they would not build it; the new Muscle Powered organization gathered hundreds of signatures on a patition asking that it be built – and it was.

At least, the northern half was built. This is the southern half. It would be good if Muscle Powered members and others could show up at this open house and demonstrate to the city that there is still a lot of support for the path. Imagine – riding north to south through all of Carson City on an off-street path – sound good?  Show up on Wednesday!