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?
I love StreetFilms! There is nothing like the visual to cause one to reconsider what one thinks one knows. And here is a film short on 20 mph speeds on residential streets in England, the 20 is Plenty, For Us campaign. Most of the streets shown either were narrow to begin with, or have traffic calming measures installed, so our widest streets in Carson City would need something done to them to make this practical. Just imagine, though, drivers and bicyclists and pedestrians sharing streets as common space rather than funnels for impatience and pollution.
Tom Vanderbilt has written an entertaining and scary analysis of why people drive as they do. In Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What Its Says About Us), he makes the point that it is crazy to accept the rate of carnage on the roads, particularly of pedestrians and bicyclists, but also that it is surprising how well the roads do work. He states that the three greatest contributors to crashes are speed, distraction, and human psychology.
Speed is the defining characteristic of the way we drive, or at least would if we could. The survival rate declines quickly with increasing speed, and this is especially so for bicyclists and pedestrians, where the likelihood of dying in a crash goes up exponentially with speed. At 20 mph, there is a decent rate of survival. At 40 mph, virtually no chance.
Driving is really quite a complex activity, so much to pay attention to all at once, but we as drivers make it even harder by really not paying much attention unless something is out of the usual. We are adapted to direct communication with other humans, but anonymity and speed of driving makes that nearly impossible. We don’t get feedback on our bad driving habits, other than the finger or horn which doesn’t often communicate the necessary information, unless they are so bad that we crash. Otherwise, we tend to assume we are doing just fine, even though we are likely not.