Seeing green: Reno mayor pushes for green bike lanes

Published: May. 25, 2016 at 10:44 AM PDT
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In most cases, when something is black and white, it denotes a sort of clarity. But according to Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, that is not true when it comes to bike lanes.

"People get extremely confused just with the white and black regular street lines that sort of take place," she said. "We kind of get immune to it."

She says the Reno City Council has been vocal about making the roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, and one option that caught her eye was green bike lanes.

"More cities are doing it," she said. "They're seeing a lot of positive results with green bike lanes. I think with Reno really on this trajectory, we're seeing more people bike to work. So we really have to be cognizant of what they're needs are and the needs of drivers."

Green bike lanes are exactly as they sound: bright green lanes that clearly indicate that space is made for bikes. In Washoe County, there are two locations where these lanes already exist. You can find them at the Keystone and Kings Row intersection and the Moana diverging diamond interchange.

Joe Harrington with the Regional Transportation Commission says those specific locations are ones they typically key on for this specific improvement.

"They are typically installed in urban areas like Moana where it might be confusing. They give a clear indication this is a bike lane," he said.

RTC added the green bike lanes at Keystone last year, but only in small sections.

"It would be really cost-prohibitive to make the entire lane green and it probably wouldn't make sense either," he said. "The plastic does come off. It does cost a lot to maintain."

In fact, the green lanes at Moana were installed four years ago and the wear and tear is clearly visible. Added solid green lines everywhere likely won't happen, but Harrington says they are useful tools in the right locations.

"It does make sense to create these green thermoplastic coverings where it might be confusing and that bicycle lane really needs to pop. One of the things we can also do is create demarcation that indicates it's a shared vehicle lane perhaps, that people should expect bicyclists."

Schieve says right now this is just talking. There's no firm plan to indicate where the lanes would go, who would maintain them, or how much they would cost. She also says this issue may seem less significant to people than other issues in our community, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.

"I think you have to balance out priorities," she said. "We can't just focus on one priority. We have to make sure we're watching everyone. We have to make sure everyone is safe. I think if it's your family member who is hit and killed you would feel different."

But as the cycling movement grows in Reno, these lanes are also giving the council a chance to look at the safety of everyone on the road.

"Take some fresh eyes, take a fresh look at what bike lanes we have, how best to paint them, how to make sure they're being used, where to locate them," Reno City Councilman David Bobzien said. "So that's exciting. Especially in the outer lying areas, if it's only 4 miles to bike to work, that's an option but you have to have safe roads safe routes"