Friday, November 21, 2014

Dirty Friday.

I found another tenth of a mile of dirt that I can add to my morning commute.  Not sure why I haven't done this before.  I walk the dog here pretty regularly, but it never occurred to me that I could add it to my daily ride.  I know what you're saying....big deal.  Well, it might not be a big deal....but it did put a smile on my face this morning!  Did your Friday commute do that!?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

River Path Evaluation (Lake St. to Wells Ave.)

Here's another portion of the river path, from the Automobile Museum to Wells Ave. reviewed with comments from one of our newer local bicycle advocates (David).  All the photos and observations are his (with a few edits from me for clarity).  A big thanks to David for doing this section of the path.

Location Map for comments and photos.  Working from East to West.
#1 Below is what once was a stop sign @ lower wells and the river path westbound. 
The path width at this location is 14'. Remove or replace device? 

 #2  Slightly further west at Brodhead Memorial Park there is a medium (<3") root protrusion on the south side of the path just before the Kuenzli Street access point. Path width is still 14'.

#3  Adjacent to the Kuenzli street access point there appears to be a tree stump and 2"x2" sign post base painted in high visibility paint on the north side of the path that likely should be remedied for safety. 

The path narrows here due to downhill (slope) creep. 
Usable width is now 8' and distance to the protrusions is 10'. Below are three examples.

#4  Next up for review is the Kuenzli Street overpass. 
Usable path width is now 10'. 
Guard rail present. 
Please note in the following photos the condition of the installed lighting fixtures as currently vandalized and non-functional. I can attest to these two fixtures having been in this state for over five years now (Three photos).

#5  Second Street overpass. 
Usable path with 10'. 
Unlike its pretentious Kuenzli Street counterpart there is no guard rail present. 
Again note the condition of the lighting fixtures, vandalized and non-functional (three photos).

#6  Past the Second Street overpass a "S" curve exists just prior to the auto museum. 
Usable path width varies and is at a minimum of 8'. 
Please note that the lamp in the picture is likely in a failed condition. I noted on my return after dark (but did not photograph), conservatively 80% of the lamps in the reviewed section are non-functional.

#7  Just east of the auto museum exists an outcropping of one gated structure and what appears to be a control or power mechanism is contained within the gated structure. Protrusions of metal lids at ground level (multiple).
Steep decline towards the river, without barrier.
Control/power device obstruction without barrier. Not clearly visible in dark conditions.
Very narrow usable path width @ 6' to 7'.

#8  Approaching Lake Street, adjacent to the auto museum.
Path width is 8'
One or more root protrusions of the smaller variety (<1") on the north side of the path. 
The irrigation system (Automobile Museum maintained) frequently leaks, flooding sections of the path, leading to rapid degradation of the newly repaved path.  How about some desert landscaping!

Night Riding and Good Route Planning.

Yep, it's dark out there after work these days.  I had to make a quick run to REI after work a couple nights ago.  As a result I ended up riding on this portion of Kietzke (between Reno Toyota and Vasser) in an attempt to make it to a lower traffic road (Vasser).  While there are now bike lanes on much of Kietzke's still not a fun or safe place to ride (even with good lights) at night.

So how do you avoid this type of situation.  The short answer is route planning.  I chose to ride out through the Reno Toyota and go down Kietzke Lane to Vasser (Red Route).  What I should have done to have a safer ride was head back out via Harvard Way and connect up with Vasser a little farther East (Green Route).

In my case I choose the red route on purpose (I normally do take the green route), just for a change of pace.  I have quite a few lights on my bike and person (4 total) so I wasn't too worried about being visible to traffic.  However, after even this short section on Kietzke, I was reevaluating this choice.  The sad truth is that while there is bicycle infrastructure on this road....I just didn't feel like people were expecting, looking out for, or aware that I was right next to them as they zipped along at 50 mph or more.

I'm tempted to use the analogy of "putting lipstick on a pig" for the bike lanes on Kietzke Lane.  While route planning is definitely the answer to safety.... I'm left wondering how to further implement bicycle infrastructure with respect to certain road types (e.g. 4 lane "highways").  Are we better off developing this type of infrastructure just so we can say it's there, and we "can" ride there.  Or should we be developing a network of neighborhood "greenways" (like my green route) where there aren't painted bike lanes (there aren't on much of Harvard Way), but bicycles are prioritized via sharrows or some other shared roadway designation on the lower speed, lower traffic streets?

Anyway, something to think about....

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Solar Freakin' Roadways!

Imagine just how cool this would be if they really started putting these in everywhere!  And isn't Nevada pretty much the poster child for this type of thing with 300 days a year of sun.  If we built this type of technology here in Nevada, it would make the Tesla deal look like a little start up in Midtown!

**Disclaimer -- I love the little start ups in Midtown.  Go Midtown!**

Monday, November 17, 2014

A New Bike Rack to Me and some Bicycle Advocacy.

Last week we had a meeting of the minds with a small group of local bicycle advocates.  We do this about once a month at various locations (that serve beer) around town.  For this particular meeting Chapel Tavern was chosen.  While the meeting itself was based on evaluating the Truckee River bike path and the bicycle boulevard (Riverside Dr.), a few things besides this did catch my attention.

First up was this:

A nice hanging bike rack at Chapel Tavern.  I've never noticed it before....I just always locked up on the patio to the metal railing.  However, this rack is a great use of long as you have a cable lock rather than just a U-lock!

The second surprise at the meeting was that we had a few new faces.  Two fine gentlemen joined us for a beverage and expressed some new ideas.  The first friendly face took on a challenge that I'm afraid can't be accomplished without some extra bodies....mainly mapping out the condition of the Truckee River path along it's entire length.  He very kindly took the length of path between Wells St. and the Lake St. off my hands for an analysis similar to one I posted last week.  The second gent, had some great ideas of biking and walking in the form of "Bike Trains"...or groups of kids and adult supervisors that meet up each morning and form a "train" of kids making their way to school. 

We'll have to touch on this topic in more detail in another post, but I'd like to thank both guys for joining us and adding to the growing group of people who represent our bicycle community!

Glow in the Dark Bike Path.

This ends up being kind of a repost....since Reno Rambler had his version up on Sunday.  Damn, that guy is good.  Anyway, it's worth a repost.

The recently finished Van Gogh Bike Path is, not surprisingly, in the Netherlands (where they know a thing or two about using bicycles).  It's modeled after Van Gogh's Stary Night and powered by solar panels.

I'm struck that in an age where the Dutch are doing custom cycle infrastructure (and other glow in the dark bike paths) like this, that we still struggle to justify what I'll call "POP" (paint on pavement) bicycle infrastructure! How is it that one group of people can see things so clearly....and so many others cringe at the thought of loosing a few vehicle parking spots for a bike lane (Ehhem....Midtown!).  Hopefully, projects like this will inspire others to make a transition from the vehicularly mundane to bicycle bliss!

Oh...if you want to see the original article click here.