Monday, April 27, 2015

Five Ingredients for a Great Bicycle City.

I was reading an article over at that discussed the 5 items necessary to build a great bike city.  Here's the list as quoted:

I once sat next to Mia Birk at a meeting where she said that in order to create a city that is friendly for cycling you need the following things:
1. Political leadership
2. Advocates (an organized group)
3. City Staff/Planners who ‘get it’ and at least some who actually ride bikes
4. A good bike plan
5. A dedicated source of local money (which can be leveraged toward larger grants)
Getting elected officials who understand the issues and take the lead is the only way that forward movement is going to happen in Portland. The other four items on that list either already exist, or will come after the political leadership shows up.
 Interestingly enough, I think Reno is right on the cusp of this.  Here's how I see it broken down.

1.  Political leadership.....we're so close on this.  Jenny Brekhus is on board, Hillary seems with it, Neoma is slowly learning to roll with it, David and Oscar are in line, and I'm a bit uncertain with respect to Paul and Naomi.  So we're looking at 5 out of 7 in general terms.

2.  Advocates....yep, Great Streets, Reno Bike Project, BPAC, and others.

3.  City Staff/Planners who get it.....RTC is right there with us and loaded with people who do really get street design.  The issue might be getting the old guard planners at City of Reno to take RTC recommendations.  We're in a pretty good place on this though.

4.  A good bike plan.  We do have a legit bicycle master plan.  It's a little fuzzy on the details but it points in all the right directions.

5.  Dedicated source of local money....This one we're a bit hit and miss on.  The RTC does have $$$ for redesign via the slurry sealing program, but this is limited to paint on roadways, not full redesign.  I'm not sure where we find this in Reno exactly.

All in all, Reno is poised (and already started) to redesign step by step via the road maintenance program.  The challenge is the big projects, big picture, and political will.  Areas like Midtown and the 4th and Prater projects need to be done right, with modern protected bike lanes.  Once we see a few buffered bike lanes functioning I think the slurry seal / road maintenance rehabs might be able to get a little more aggressive with their paint based designs (e.g. buffered bike lanes).  From there it might really start to roll.

Finally, if this process garners enough support we might just start attracting cyclist to move to Reno (like they do with Portland).  These folks could further galvanize the advocacy that's already here and really keep pushing.

Anyway, that's how I see it.  While it won't happen on it's own, we're got the bicycle rolling so to speak.  Now we just have to keep pedaling and bring the process along with us!


  1. Couldn't agree more Andy - the devil is in the details but when these five factors are in full stride you have the makings of a Platinum Bicycle Friendly Community such as Bloomington, Indiana - if not Platinum then probably Gold -