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.

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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.”

Kings Canyon / Ash Canyon Trail Meeting

Posted on Bike Carson by Jeff Potter:

Please consider attending the Open Space Committee meeting this Monday, April 19th if you would like to show your support for existing and future mountain bike trails. The meeting is in the Sierra Room at the Carson City Community Center and starts at 6:00 p.m.

We will present our Kings Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail plan, and ask for approval to start construction on the section of the trail which is managed by Carson City. By attending this meeting you will demonstrate to the Open Space Committee that building new mountain bike trails should be a priority for Carson City.

I hope to see you there.

2010 Northern Nevada / Tahoe Regional Bicycle Summit

On February 3rd, 2010, Muscle Powered and Bike Carson attended the 2010 Northern Nevada / Tahoe Regional Bicycle Summit in Reno, hosted by the University of Nevada Reno Cycling Team and the Tour de Nez Outreach. Over 40 cycling groups met in the UNR Student Union to give a brief presentation of who they were and what they were working on. The groups represented just about all the facets of cycling that you can imagine, from racing, advocacy groups, trails organizations, city and state government, urban planning, law enforcement, on and off road cycling clubs, disabled groups, various causes, and more!

Bike Summit
Post Meeting Social: Mike Henderson, Colin Loretz, Nico Aguilera

Each group did around a 5 minute presentation, and by the end, I think everyone was pretty amazed at how many people are putting in their time to make cycling better in Northern Nevada. Rather than try to discuss all that was presented, I’ve compiled a list of attendees with links to their organizations. Some groups weren’t able to attend, and others showed up that aren’t on the list below, so let me know if your group is not represented or if the links are not accurate. I wasn’t able to find links for all the groups, but it’s nearly complete. Go explore these links and see what’s going on in Northern Nevada! It should keep you busy for a while…

A Special Thank You to Tim Healion, Executive Director of the Tour de Nez Outreach Organization. Thanks for getting us all together and directing the summit!

Attendees:

Bike Summit
2010 Northern Nevada / Tahoe Regional Bicycle Summit

Assembly Bill 247

Here’s some information that’s been circulating that I should pass along to Nevada cyclists:

It’s time we modernize Nevada Revised Statutes so that traffic laws governing bicycling align with actual safety practice. Assembly Bill 247 takes this issue head on.

What the bill does:

1. Allows a cyclist to indicate a turn with a single hand signal or with his position in the turn lane instead of continuously signaling for 100 or 300 feet as is now required (have you ever tried to brake
and signal a turn at the same time and avoid crashing?)

2. Adds the option of signaling a right turn by extending the right arm for bicyclists. Only a left-handed right turn signal is currently legal in Nevada.

3. Voids dangerous laws that require use of side paths instead of nearby roads. Such laws unnecessarily force cyclists onto often poorly maintained stretches of pavement with poor visibility and other
hazards (be aware an amendment will be presented to clarify this component.)

If you’re a cyclist who supports the improvement of traffic laws to make cycling safer, please attend the bill’s hearing this Thursday, March 12th, 1:30 pm, in the Assembly Transportation Committee (http://www.leg.state.nv.us/75th2009/committees/a_committees/TRN.cfm), Room 3143 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson St., Carson City.

For more information about the bill and how you can support it, please contact Terry McAfee, President, Nevada Bicycle Coalition (tmcafee “at” gmail “dot” com). Terry was instrumental in crafting the concepts
for the bill and will be presenting the bill with me at the hearing.

More info: http://www.davidbobzien.com/weblog/2009/03/08/nevadas-bicycle-bill/

Pass it on!

David Bobzien
Assemblyman, Nevada District 24

dbobzien@asm.state.nv.us
david@davidbobzien.com
(775) 745-5027
www.davidbobzien.com

Legislative Attache Ashley Massey
amassey@lcb.state.nv.us
(775) 684-8559