Five weeks and the snow is still piled up everywhere. If you live in Minnesota, this may sound like a wimpy complaint but for Reno, it’s a long time. And the bicycling in Reno is somewhere between dangerous and impossible, assuming of course that you don’t mind cycling in 6 layers of clothing.
Last year I gave a lunch time talk to a chapter of the American Public Works Association. One of the questions was, “Why don’t bicyclists stay in their bike lanes?” At the time I answered with the Nevada statutes which makes it illegal for a motorist to drive in the bike lane but does not restrict bicyclists to the bike lane. And then I followed with bicyclist having to avoid sand, broken glass and other debris in the bike lane to avoid a fall or flat time. I failed to mention snow.
Of course, the safest place to ride a road bike on the road is in a bike lane. In a 1998 study for the Transportation Research Board, William Moritz of the University of Michigan compared the safety of different bicycling facilities and found:
|Facility Type||Crashes per Million Miles of Exposure|
Signed bike routes
|Major streets without bike facilities||
|Minor streets without bike facilities||
|Shared use paths||
So when the snow piles melt and the street sweeper has swept, stay in those bike lanes and off of the sidewalk. Don’t become a statistic yourself. In the meantime, take care and good luck!
Do you have a link to that 1998 study? 🙂
Adult Bicyclists in the U.S.
Another bike lane obstacle is road construction signs. I just got back from 2 weeks riding in Tucson and noticed the signs are placed on the sidewalk or shoulder-not blocking 95% of the bike lane. This would be a simple request we could make of road construction crews (public and private).
I have to ask if people are aware that the city is in the midst of a severe budget crisis. They just laid off several firemen, for example. That’s a real safety concern. It’s the first time they’ve had to do that since 1933 (check out KOLO’s report on the matter that appeared this evening to verify these facts). Likewise, this year’s weather pattern has a name, “El Nino,” for a reason. It’s not the norm. The city can’t justify buying loads of snow removal equipment when, technically, we live in a desert. Like the winter of 2003, it’s worth realizing that this amount of snow does not fall here often enough for them to justify the cost and the depreciation of the equipment. While we all want to be able to ride, while we all know it’s good for our health, reduction of carbon emissions, etc., the current economic situation likely means that the city can’t do much to help us right now. If we want to ride at this time of the year, we have to be realistic about the circumstances and be patient. If you REALLY want to ride, consider studded bike tires. There are such things and they really are great.
I talked to the Carson City transportation manager about signs in the bike lane, and unfortunately, placing them on the sidewalks would violate ADA rules. The blind, or people in wheelchairs are the most vulnerable (and often forgotten) users of our transportation system. With bicycle mode share down around 1% of all traffic users, it doesn’t make sense to stick the signs out in the car lane either. It sucks to have the signs in our bike lanes, but at least we can go around them with caution. In many cases, I haven’t seen better solutions due to fences, hedges, and other obstacles.