Central Reno's New Urban Bike Lane System: Why It's So Cool
As I walked downtown today, I noticed Mill Street was recently added to the growing number of streets downtown being restriped with bike lanes in each direction. Mill Street joins California Avenue, Arlington Avenue, 7th Street, Wells Avenue and soon-to-be Holcomb Avenue in a series of connecting bike lanes that rivals or surpasses bike lane route systems in other cities.
It is now possible for people to bike safely from the southeast Well Avenue area, and Southwest and Suburban Southwest Reno, all the way to downtown, or over to Sparks.
View Reno Bike Route Options in a larger map
My map is not perfect and it also includes future bike lanes to be built in the next couple of months, such as Holcomb Avenue. It only includes areas where I have biked, so it may be missing some lanes. If you know of some bike lanes in central Reno not on this map let me know!
There are certainly critics of bike lanes, particularly in Reno, where drivers were less than happy about losing a traffic lane in each direction to make room for a dedicated bike lane. However let's look at the benefits of bike lanes:
- Bike lanes help define road space, decrease the stress level of bicyclists riding in traffic, encourage bicyclists to ride in the correct direction of travel, and signal motorists that cyclists have a right to the road.
- Bike lanes help to better organize the flow of traffic and reduce the chance that motorists will stray into cyclists’ path of travel.
- Bicyclists have stated their preference for marked on-street bicycle lanes in numerous surveys.
- Several real-time studies (where cyclists of varying abilities and backgrounds ride and assess actual routes and street conditions) have found that cyclists are more comfortable and assess a street as having a better level of service for them where there are marked bike lanes present.
There are lots of studies out there to back these findings:
- In 1996, over 2000 League of American Bicyclist members were surveyed about the crashes (accidents) they were involved in over the course of the previous year. From the information, a relative danger index was calculated which shows that streets with bike lanes were the safest places to ride, having a significantly lower crash rate then either major or minor streets without any bicycle facilities; moreover, they are safer than trails and sidewalks as well.
- The addition of bicycle lanes in Davis, California reduced crashes by 31 percent.
- Bicycle lanes on a major avenue in Eugene, Oregon resulted in an increase in bicycle use and a substantial reduction in the bicycle crash rate. The crash rate per 100,000 bike miles fell by almost half and the motor vehicle crash rate also fell significantly.
- When the city of Corvallis, OR installed 13 miles of bicycle lanes in one year, the number of bicycle crashes fell from 40 in the year prior to the installation to just 16 in the year afterwards, and of the 5 crashes that occurred on streets with bike lanes, all involved bicyclists riding at night with no lights.
- In Chicago, Illinois, crash severity was reduced in one study of marking bike lanes in a narrow cross section where 5 foot bike lanes were marked next to 7 foot parking lanes.
- In Denmark, bicycle lanes reduced the number of bicycle crashes by 35 percent.Some of the bike lanes reached risk reductions of 70 to 80 percent.
- A comparison of crash rates of all types in major cities has shown that cities with higher bicycle use have lower traffic crash rates of all types than cities with lower bicycle use.
- In a national study comparing streets with bike lanes and those without, several important observations were made:
- Wrong-way riding was significantly lower on the streets with bike lanes.
- In approaching intersections, 15% of cyclists on streets without bike lanes rode on the sidewalks, vs. 3% on the streets with bike lanes.
- On streets with bike lanes, 81% of cyclists obeyed stop signs, vs. 55% on streets without.
- In Cambridge, sidewalk bicycling was cut in half after the installation of bicycle lanes on Mass. Ave. in Central Square.
- Corvallis and Eugene, Oregon, cities with good bikeway networks, have the highest number of riders and rider behavior is the best: wrong-way riding is minimal, fewer ride on the sidewalk than in other Oregon cities.
- In looking at comparable streets with and without bicycle lanes in Davis and Santa Barbara, California, the number of cyclists riding on the wrong side of the street was one third as much on streets with bicycle lanes.
So get out an bike! We have a few months of good weather left before the big chill sets in.
Post your comments
Posted by: Michael - 8/1/2010 8:40:07 PM
Is a bike lane planned for Lakeside from Plumb to Windy Hill like you show on the map? I ride this all the time to work and Moana to McCarran is the worst spot so that'd be great if a lane is planned for there. And I'm a huge fan of the lanes - it's one of the best city planning projects to happen for a while in Reno.
Posted by: Wiley_n_Reno - 8/1/2010 9:39:14 PM
Reno has incredible bike user potential. It's in a valley and is pretty flat North to South and East to West. No reason not to expand this except for the usual Reno area "hate-everything's".
Posted by: DowntownMakeoverDude - 8/1/2010 11:27:37 PM
The Lakeside and Holcomb extensions aren't done yet but were based on RTC and City Council staff reports. There might be a chance they chose Arlington over Lakeside but I know Lakeside was in the original staff report. Thanks for your input I will modify the map
Posted by: Washoe Greens - 8/2/2010 9:00:14 AM
Photo is not quite a bike lane yet. Needs a stencil of a bike and an arrow to complete. Why? So bikers will go the correct direction which most don't in this down. Why important? The wrong way is *DEADLY* and results in the statistic that most bike accidents are the biker's fault.
Many so-called bike lanes in Reno are not. They are shoulders. A bike lane has to look like your pic with TWO parallel stripes. When drivers see this they automatically driver more safely around bikes, a huge issue in Reno.
These are all popping up all over the South of town where I live. This is very, very exciting stuff. Thx for posting!
Posted by: DowntownMakeoverDude - 8/2/2010 9:30:39 AM
Good to know Washoe Greens! Hopefully they will stencil that in and complete it, especially if it adds a significant safety factor.
Posted by: Reno Rambler - 8/3/2010 7:27:09 PM
Great post with lots of good info. I serve on the RTC BPAC and as I recall Lakeside south of Moana is being proposed as a potential road diet (I don't have my list with me so don't quote me on that). So far this year 24 more miles of bike lanes have been added to the area with more scheduled for the end of this year and into 2011. Very exciting times for Cyclists in Reno! Keep using and talking up those bike lanes! Let your city council members know you appreciate their support.