Biking to the Grocery Store

A post on Steven Can Plan on grocery store bike racks in Chicago inspired me to write about Carson City. There are eleven stores that I’ll include. I’m listing them by geography, north to south, and at the end I’ll make some recommendations. I’ve also added notes about public transit, the JAC bus system.

For information on other bicycle racks, see the Carson City Bicycle Rack database. For bike route information, see the Carson City Bicycle Route Map online or available at local bike stores, or use the bicycling layer routing function in Google Maps, which is incomplete for Carson City but still useful.

Save Mart Supermarkets North

Save Mart Supermarkets North (3620 N Carson St): RACKS (A) – Two sets of wave bike racks are available near the south door, with a good location and visibility. These thick pipe racks can be a little hard to lock to, but they are better than most. ACCESS – College Parkway has bike lanes to the west and east. Carson St has wide shoulders for biking, however, they are not designated bike lanes and the traffic speed can be uncomfortable for many people. For neighborhoods southwest, the easiest access is to use a pass-through on Wagner St to Oak Ridge Dr. For the east, College is the best place to cross Carson St, though you need to be aware of right turning traffic both westbound and eastbound. Crossing Carson at Nye or Silver Oak is not recommended because there is no signal control at these intersections. TRANSIT – The store is accessible on JAC routes 1 (red) and 2A/2B (green).

Continue reading “Biking to the Grocery Store”

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A greenway on Nevada St?

Please watch the StreetFilms video on Portland’s neighborhood greenways, and think about the applicability and practicability for Carson City.

Portland has a grid street system, except for the west hills and the far suburbs, and Carson City does not have a grid except in a few areas, so it is difficult to identify locations where a street parallel to the arterials and collectors could be prioritized for bicycle use.

But Nevada Street immediately popped into my mind. It runs a fair distance, about 1-1/2 miles from nearly Winnie Lane on the north to 10th Street on the south. It is already a fairly calm street, so it would require less traffic calming than would many other streets. A few speed humps (like the one on Division Street), a reduction in the speed limit to 15 or 20 mph, bulb outs and/or bicycle and pedestrian passthroughs at major street crossings (Fifth Street certainly, and perhaps Musser, Robinson, Washington and Long) to discourage through motor traffic, and orienting signs for bicycle free flow, would create a bicycle friendly route.

As shown in the video, the greenways create comfortable and practical routes for all sorts of bicyclists, not just regular commuters who feel comfortable riding in traffic. I can imagine it being a part of our yearly Bike to Work Week cruiser ride. The route passes close to Fritsch Elementary School, and is not far from Bordewich Elementary. It also provides access to downtown from both the north and the south.

The idea is that only people who live on Nevada Street would be using their motor vehicles on Nevada Street. Others might be on for a short distance, and would use cross streets, but the nature of the street would be a place friendly to and safe for bicyclists, pedestrians, kids, dogs, etc.

What do you think? Would it work in Carson City? Is Nevada Street the best place for a pilot? What traffic calming actions would make the most difference? What other streets might be good candidates? How would you make use of the neighborhood greenway?

NDOT meeting on Hwy 50 tonight

NDOT is holding an scoping (informational) meeting about the section of Highway 50 between Deer Run Road and Hwy 341 to Virginia City, the “Mound House” section. This section has seen an epidemic of  fatalities and serious injury crashes this year, so NDOT is accelerating planning to improve the highway. (Nevada Appeal article)

This project could also make things safer for bicyclists, if it is designed correctly, but it could also make things worse for bicyclists, if it is not. There are several bicyclists who commute regularly from Dayton to Carson City, and the roadway sees quite a lot of recreational use on weekends. Tim Rowe of Alta Alpina Cycling Club, and Muscle Powered board member, has asked that people attend the meeting tonight to ask questions and provide information about bicycle facilities on this section of highway.

The highway itself should either have wide shoulders (six feet or more) or marked bike lanes, and any cross streets or grade separations should have marked bike lanes as well as sidewalks. A separate multi-use path might be appropriate in some areas, however, it must not be inconvenient or unsafe for commuting bicyclists to access the path. Lowering the speed limit on the highway should definitely be considered, since speed is the biggest contributor to fatality and injury in accidents. A widened highway that encourages higher speed would be a mistake for all users. The Nevada Appeal article mentions acceleration and deceleration lanes. These can be a significant hazard to bicyclists if they are not designed and stripped properly, and again, they allow higher speeds.

The meeting is Thursday, October 21, 2010, 4:00 to 7:00 PM, at the Lyon County Utilities Building, 34 Lakes Blvd #103, Dayton NV. A notice of the meeting with sketch map is available at http://budget.state.nv.us/clearinghouse/Notice/2011/E2011-058.pdf.

A Highway 50 Corridor Study from 2007 is available http://www.nevadadot.com/planning/pdfs/US_50_2007.pdf. The study mentions bicycles in a number of places but doesn’t make clear that bicycle facilities are needed along this entire stretch, nor does it define what sorts of facilities might be provided. The Carson City Unified Pathways Master Plan from 2006 indicates an existing on-street bike lane out to the county line (though it is insufficiently marked for this), and a proposed paved shared path (bicycles and pedestrians, not horses) to the county line, and then indicates a shared street (shoulder) in Lyon County. The CAMPO Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) from 2009 shows the Lyon County portion to Hwy 341 as a bicycle lane proposed (page 5-19).

Roop Street Update

The Roop Street project has been going on most of the year, but we’re now finally starting to see some areas near completion. Roop Street between William Street (HWY 50) and Robinson is now open, and the new bike lanes have been striped between William Street and Washington Street. I attended the Regional Transportation Commission recently, and here’s the latest scoop on the project.

New Bike Lanes on Roop Street
Heading north on Roop Street by the library

Like I mentioned, there is new striping on Roop Street in front of the library. Apparently it was supposed to be completed all the way down to Robinson, but the striper didn’t realize this. He’ll be back. If you’ve had the opportunity to ride this section yet, you’ll notice the stripes look a bit fuzzy. There are even areas of the stripes that look powdery. It was mentioned that the striper had the mix off. Part of the paint composition is little reflective beads, and the ratio of beads was way too high. It is hoped that a street sweeper will be able to clean this up.

There are two alterations that are worth mentioning too. Washington Street west bound off of Roop is now One Way. It was opened for a brief time, but even though it is now one lane and painted as one way, it was reported that hundreds of drivers didn’t realize this and tried to merge onto Roop Street. They had to close this section off again until better signs and markers can be installed.

Washington Street
Washington Street Alteration

Also altered is the intersection of Caroline and Roop. There is now curbing installed that prevents east bound turns onto Roop Street off of Caroline. Riders looking to get on northbound Roop from the center of town now need to do so at Robinson Street.

Roop Street north of William Street is paved all the way to Long Street now. There is still much work to do on the sidewalks. And because of the additional property acquisition to make the street wider, there is now a need to install curbing and retaining walls. Some properties now have a two foot drop down to the sidewalk, because the new sidewalks cut into the slope.

Although not complete, riding the widened and striped sections of Roop really give you a feel of how it’s going to feel when completed. It’s great! The road feels really wide now, and it feels like the bicycles and cars now have plenty of room to coexist. It’s going to be fantastic once completed.

The Wall Came Down

Muscle Powered board member Tim Rowe offered an update on the Hwy 395 widening.

Please note – Monumental Day last week – the wall came down!

Yes,  the non-bicycle friendly K-Rail concrete wall was completely removed on Hwy 395 South from Jacks Valley/Sunridge to Hwy 50 west. They started removing the wall Tuesday night and Wednesday as paving has been completed on the widening project.  Douglas County also sand/oiled their part of Topsy Lane.  Will be interesting to see how  the contractor now stripes the new lane/shoulder with the existing temporary narrow & bumpy lanes and old rumble strip. Has been a reduced bicycle mile event here all summer but we survived.

Note that this certainly limited my riding to work and back. As, I would only ride to work early on the weekend when traffic was lighter and I felt somewhat safe. Making the hard right turn on Topsy Lane east bound on to gravel/various grades and equipment present was really interesting – especially on skinny tires and even in a car/truck. That is to say when Topsy Lane was open, as the contractor had it closed most days, and sometimes at night, and then without proper signage. Guess now bicyclists only just have to deal with the barrels/cones and rumble strip – but at least there is an escape route! I will certainly be glad when this is all over and I can ride to work and back more often.

Now we only have one real bicycle unfriendly construction area – Edmonds Ave. Note that the concrete wall/high fence on the southbound side  has now been expanded to almost a full mile! I will Only ride Edmonds north bound and Only during off hours.

Give Google Maps routing a try

Google Map with lanes and routes

I have been working on adding bicycle lane and route information for Carson City to Google Maps. Most of it is based on the Carson City Bicycle Route Map, published by Muscle Powered. Though the entries are certainly not complete, there are enough there that you might want to try a “Get Directions.” Put in your from and to, click the bicycle icon, and then Get Directions. If you want to look at the routes which have been entered, select the “More…” menu item and click the bicycling layer. The solid lines are supposed to be bicycle lanes and the dotted lines bicycle routes. The darkest lines are off-street multi-use paths, though I’m not sure why they are darker since this is not one of the categories in Google’s bicycle layer.

I have a list of about 20 additional routes which I’ve already submitted, though all the bicycle lanes should already be in. I’m not responsible for the incorrect Route 6 / Linear Parkway – someone else did that and I’m trying to get it corrected. If you find something you want in, you can submit a report yourself, though you can also ask me to do so. I’m keeping track of what I’ve already submitted and when it gets corrected or added. It usually takes about six weeks for the corrections/additions to show up, but it is sometimes faster.

At any rate, please comment on what you think of this capability.

Hwy 395 Update

this lower section will still be a problem

A meeting was held on Wednesday, June 9 with four bicycle advocates and three NDOT employees to discuss the lack of accommodation for bicyclists in the Hwy 395 third lane project now being constructed between Jacks Valley Rd and Lupin Dr. In the meeting were: Steve Lani – Resident Engineer for Project, NDOT Construction Division, Bill Story – Manager, NDOT Bicycle, Pedestrian & Safe Routes to School Programs, Paul Sinnott – Assistant Design Chief, NDOT Roadway Design Division, Tim Rowe – Nevada Bicycle Board & Alta Alpina Cycling Club, Denis Coyne – Nevada Bicycle Board & Bike Shop owner near construction, Sig Jaunarajs – Chairman, Nevada Bicycle Board, and Dan Allison – MusclePowered & Carson City Safe Routes to School Coordinator.

The agreement from the meeting was that NDOT will take the following actions:

  1. The speed limit will be left at 45 mph for the remainder of the project, 24×7, and Highway Patrol will be informed.
  2. In the upper section between Jacks Valley Rd and Topsy Ln, there will be a three foot “bike lane” striped with an additional two feet or so of pavement including the rumble strip, before the barrier. The barrier was just added over the last three days. The three feet will be gained by narrowing the vehicle lanes to 11 feet. This will take about one week to accomplish the re-striping.
  3. A message sign will be placed south of Jacks Valley Rd which notifies all users of the narrowed lanes and presence of bicycles.
  4. Bicyclists will not be prohibited from “taking the lane” through the entire construction zone, but these actions will provide an alternative for those who are not comfortable with doing so.

The lower section, Topsy to Lupin, will still have no shoulder and bicyclists will have to take the lane if they want to use this section.

A detour around the lower section was discussed, however, the detour would need to include a temporary paved path through the construction area on Topsy Ln (which is a Douglas County project rather than NDOT project), and though the detour would not actually be out of the way for most destinations, bicyclists unfamiliar with the area would not likely take the detour. For those who want to detour, there is a Google map. One could also turn left onto Topsy, go down Vista Grande Blvd to Old Clear Creek Rd and then out to cross Hwy 395 to Lupin Dr, but this requires crossing two lanes of traffic to the left turn lanes onto Topsy.

These actions do not make the route safe, just less unsafe than it was. Probably the biggest difference is reducing the speed limit to 45 mph, but the effectiveness of this depends upon active enforcement by the Nevada Highway Patrol. If you notice drivers significantly exceeding the speed limit here, please report them to NHP, or if there is a general problem, contact NHP and ask for more enforcement.

If you are using this section of Hwy 395, whether for commuting, shopping, or recreation, please report your experiences back here to the blog. We will pass concerns along to NDOT.