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

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Vulnerable Highway Users Bill

The Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill passed the Nevada Assembly unanimously on Monday. Freshman Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez Thompson of Reno  introduced the bill and has done a great job of shepherding the bill through.  Here’s a picture of Benitez Thompson taken in front of the State Legislature today, with Kelly Clark, Lee Harter and Anne Macquarie of Muscle Powered, Tim Rowe of Muscle Powered and the Nevada Bike Board, and Terry McAfee of Procrastinating Pedalers and the Nevada Bicycle Coalition.
Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill

On to the Senate. The bill must pass out of the Senate Transportation Committee by May 15 or it dies. Any letters or phone calls in support of the bill – AB 328 – to members of the committee (see Nevada legislature website for names and addresses) would be helpful.
The Nevada Vulnerable Highway Users bill amends the state’s reckless driving statute to include striking a bicyclist or a pedestrian as reckless driving, with penalties including a fine of up to $2,000, community service, and license suspension.

Walking with the Walking School Bus

Carson City celebrated Nevada Moves Day today with “Walking School Buses” to area elementary schools. I joined one at Mark Twain SchoolMark Twain walking school bus 7.

We walked from Hot Springs Road to the school – about two miles. The kids had fun, and the teachers set a blistering pace. No grass grows under the feet of Mark Twain students and staff!
Mark Twain walking school bus 8

Thumbs Up for Mark Twain!

Highway 50 Bike Path Obstructions

It’s quite evident to today’s cyclist that our transportation system is designed with the automobile driver in mind. Millions have been spent on roads, highways and other infrastucture for the motorist, but very little in comparison for people that prefer or need to travel under their own power. Bicycle advocates often have to work hard just to get basic transportation infrastructure that is safe and gets people where they need to go. Because we often get so little, it’s frustrating when it’s taken away from us from a group that already has way more than its fair share.

HWY 50 Bike Path

Carson City has long had bike paths along Highway 50, leaving Carson City to the east. These bike paths are the primary way to travel by bike when heading east or west, to and from Carson City. They provide a safe area to ride that separates the cyclist from 50mph traffic, and connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, and shopping. In addition to the cyclists of all ages that use these paths, walkers and disabled citizens also rely on this route.

HWY 50 Bike Path

People have recently come to me with complaints of businesses and customers along Highway 50 using the bike paths as parking. When a car is parked in the path, often for no good reason, since there is usually alternative parking, the path user is forced off into the dirt, gravel, or mud. And depending on the weather or what bike your riding, it can be no easy task to navigate this terrain. At the very least, extremely inconvenient. For the person in a wheelchair, it may be impossible to get around a car on the path.

Blocking the Bike Path

The city has been receptive to complaints from users of the bike route, and has even taken steps to provide better signage along the path, even reminding motorists that there is a fine for misuse. I rode down the paths recently to see the situation for myself, and it didn’t take long before my way was blocked by a parked car. The car was even parked under one of the new signs that the city just installed. And once again this weekend, I had to navigate around another parked car, riding through the mud to do so.

Blocking the Bike Path

I believe there is some education that needs to take place for people to better understand what they’re doing wrong. It seems to be understood that we don’t park our cars in red zones, in front of fire hydrants, or in reserved parking spaces, but for some reason it seems acceptable to block a bike path. From what I’ve heard, some businesses are even angry that they’ve been told the bike lanes aren’t for parking, and said they’d fight it if further measures were taken. It’s hard to understand this though, as there is often a dirt shoulder to park on right next to the bike path. There seems to be room to accommodate everyone.

Blocking the Bike Path

This story is still unfolding, so it’s anyone’s guess how it will progress; however, as fuel prices and unemployment continue to rise, we will certainly see an increased use of alternative transportation like biking and walking. And we mustn’t forget our friends in wheelchairs that simply have no other method of getting around than these paths. I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume they don’t know the trouble they’re causing by obstructing the paths.

Blocking the Bike Path

A couple of the photos above are mine, and others were sent to me by Carson City residents. Have you had problems with cars blocking bike paths in Carson City? Let me know, and please send me photos if you have them. What do you think would be the best way to educate these motorists?

You can contact me at: jeffmoser@musclepowered.org

Mimi Premo walks

In a Nevada Appeal article entitled “WNC student turns focus to transportation,” Mimi Premo was featured for her advocacy for transit in Carson City. The article details how her personal experiences of walking and wanting to use the bus to access WNC brought her to her passion. She is not (yet) a Muscle Powered member, but it is great to see many hands working towards our common goals of a “walkable and bikeable Carson City.”

Sidewalk improvements on Saliman

new sidewalk and ramps on Saliman at Damon

The city has nearly finished a project to improve sidewalks along Saliman Road between Seeliger Elementary School and Colorado St. Eleven corners were improved with ADA compliant ramps (which help everyone, not just the disabled), and some rough sections of sidewalk were replaced. The best part from a Safe Routes to School perspective is that the drain inlet which used to be right in the middle of the crosswalk over Saliman at Damon Road was moved to the north, out of the crosswalk. This drain inlet was in the worst possible place. It’s one of those drains which both scared you and fascinated you when you were a kid, not the kind of thing you want to face first thing in the morning on your way to school.

A big bravo to Carson City Public Works for this project, which was funding by the regular sidewalk repair program.

Snow removal and sidewalks

sidewalk on Curry southbound near Paiute

Snow removal after the recent small snowstorm seemed to me to go pretty well. I checked a number of streets where snow plows last year had pushed snow onto sidewalks, and I saw only one area where this happened this year – on Curry St between Rhodes St and Clearview Dr (photo at right). Did you see any problems? If so, please comment or email Dan Allison, dan at musclepowered dot org. Please be as specific as possible about streets, cross streets, and/or addresses. If you have photos, great.

I am not asking about places where bike lanes, shoulders, or multi-use paths were not cleared. This is also an issue of concern, but I want to focus for now on the higher priority sidewalk issue. After all, bikes can take the lane, but pedestrians have no safe alternatives.