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RTC board gives final approval to downtown Reno bike lane network

A map shows proposed bike routes in downtown Reno, including parts of Fifth Street, Vine Street, Virginia Street, Lake Street and Sinclair Street.
RTC Washoe
A slide from a staff presentation during the Oct. 20 RTC meeting shows where new bike lanes will be added in downtown Reno in pink, or as mentioned on the legend as "Recommendation - Downtown Corridors.”

The Downtown Micromobility Network will add better infrastructure for people on foot, bikes and scooters to Reno’s urban core. Public officials will begin implementing the plan following a unanimous vote during the Oct. 20 meeting of the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC).

During discussion of the measure, Commissioner Mariluz Garcia called it a “huge win” for the region.

“Particularly those of us who live downtown,” she said. “And those of us that have 9- and 10 year olds who travel these roads on their bicycles.”

Once it’s finished, the network will connect Sinclair, Lake, Evans, 5th Street, Virginia and Vine Street to preexisting bike routes.

In a Facebook post before the RTC meeting, the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance (TMBA) encouraged support for the plan.

But the process of deciding which streets to include in the network was controversial, due in part to a change in plans by the City of Reno. City officials initially chose Center Street as the site of a pilot project to study how best to connect the University of Nevada, Reno to midtown. But by 2021, they had effectively abandoned that idea.

They would go on to build protected bike lanes on Virginia Street, a decision advocates criticized because they said it was done at the behest of the ROW casinos.

As recently as early October, TMBA and others who support improving bicycle infrastructure were opposed to the city’s proposal to include Virginia Street in the final plan. But TMBA’s board changed their position after Reno Director of Public Works Kerrie Koski met with them to address their concerns.

“We have a bit of a reverse course after meeting with the City of Reno government,” TMBA wrote in an Oct. 10 Facebook post. “In the interest of time and in order to secure broad community and business support for this first attempt at a protected network, we believe that the network plan is a positive change.”

Reno City Council members would go on to approve the plan the following day.

Vice Mayor Devon Reese, who also voted for the measure as a member of the RTC board, called the yearslong effort to approve the plan a “collaborative process” and thanked TMBA’s members for their support.

“This is going to be a legacy-defining opportunity for us to expand safety infrastructure in the city,” he said.

In addition to protecting road users from cars, the network will also help Reno meet some of its climate adaptation goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection, emissions from transportation make up the greatest share of the state’s climate-warming air pollution.

RTC staff told commissioners they expect to begin construction on the project by 2025 or 2026.

Bert is KUNR’s senior correspondent. He covers stories that resonate across Nevada and the region, with a focus on environment, political extremism and Indigenous communities.
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