Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Want a Great Street in Midtown....Get to the Council Meeting tomorrow!!!!

Well folks....it time for the final showdown.  The vote to see if we get a truly Great Street in Midtown is tomorrow. The agenda item is J3 (see below) and will have the option for public comments if you fill out a comment card ahead of time (slated for a presentation time of 3:30 pm).

I'd make a joke about the fact that it's less important to council than J2 (the shade of grey we're going to paint the new Virginia Street bridge....but it just depressing that it might be true).

The Players...

The previous discussion from the July Meeting:
Discussion ensued regarding Option B as presented by RTC, and how it could be
refined during the design process to provide additional parking, perhaps on nearby
surface lots or on side streets; having the City provide guidance to RTC with
respect to the City's priorities; turn lanes and bicycle safety; lane sharing with
automobiles and bicycles; time lines associated with RTC's 2017-2018
construction plans; the possibility of replacing the parking spaces eliminated by
the project; and lowering the speed limit in the project area to15 or 25 miles per hour.
Council Member Duerr requested that RTC bring back displays depicting the entire project.

It was moved by Council Member Jardon, seconded by Council Member
Duerr to select Option B as the preferred alternative with: 1) an evaluation
of off-street surface parking lot availability and side-street diagonal parking possibilities; 2) an increase in the number of street trees and reconsideration of their spacing; 3) direction to RTC to bring back large displays of the entire project that will highlight the continuity of the bicycle lanes and how traffic will flow; 4) an analysis of lowering the speed limit without adversely affecting traffic or causing other safety issues; 5) working with the Great Streets Coalition; and 6) doing all of
these things within a reasonable amount of time that will allow RTC to stay within the federal grant application time frames.

Mr. Gibson summarized by saying that RTC should work to keep some level of
on-street parking, work to minimize conflicts, look at the speed issues, look to capture and utilize off-street sites for parking as well as looking at side-street parking opportunities, and attempt to put it all together in drawings that seek to demonstrate that we can have effective access for businesses, maximize pedestrian opportunities, and handle the parking question. We need to reiterate that we have reached out and talked to developers who own off-street lots, and they have plans to put buildings on those sites. There is a set number today, but there will likely be an increase in the demand for parking over time because Midtown is a regional asset that will continue to grow. We will do our engineering work, flesh out Option B, examine the cost/benefit of off-street parking sites, and report back.

Council Member Brekhus asked if a bike lane or lanes were included in the motion, and Council Member Jardon stated that they were not included in the motion.  Council Member Bobzien discussed his preference for exploring the opportunity of removing additional parking and finding side-street parking opportunities now.
Council Member Jardon said that Option B reduces on-street parking by 50%, which is the compromise the Midtown merchants prefer.  Motion carried with Council Members Bobzien and Brekhus voting nay.

There are a number things wrong with the discussion and with what was voted on and I'll point out just a few.

OPTION B isn't really an RTC design to start with and was originally designed by the originators of the Great Streets Coalition at my kitchen table.  It was only to be implemented in the section north of Vasser St. where bike lanes are hard to fit.

It was added by the Great Streets Group as a compromise option to both cyclists and business owners... loosing ~30 % of the on street parking (Naoma Jardon is once again wrong on facts stating a 50 % reduction) in exchange for wider sidewalks, street trees, benches, and a 15-20 mph speed limit with Sharrows in the lanes and pocket turn lanes. RTC modified option B and dropped the reduced speed limits and extended this design (in place of bike lanes) much farther south.

Item 4 (from highlighting above)... lowering traffic speed limits NEVER causes safety issues!?...it always helps for vehicles, bikes, or just pedestrians!  And since when is slowing traffic down in a business district that whats people to stop and shop a bad thing?

Item 5 (from highlighting above)... RTC hasn't interacted with Great Streets for design ideas since that time....or BPAC for that matter.

Mr. Gibson (Head of RTC) states there will be an increase in demand for parking in the future (with the implied note we should address it now).  WORST statement by Lee in a while!  If this were true all new roads in Reno every city should be build as 4 lanes with center turn lanes (veritable highways) to accommodate "future" traffic growth (which in reality isn't really occurring).  The real facts are that RTC (and cities all over the country) have been reducing traffic lanes through road diets (complete streets) and they carry traffic just as effectively or better than before, and make our neighborhoods and cities more walkable, bikeable, and enjoyable!

Anyway...that's just a few of my pet peeves.

Here's my guess on how the vote for "Option B" will fall...
(No = Vote for a true Complete Street, Yes = Vote against a true Complete Street)

Mayor Scheive:  Yes
Bozien:  No
Brekhus: No
Buerr: Yes
Delgado: Yes
Mckenzie: Yes
Jardon: Yes

So really, no change since the meeting in July despite months of work, a series of public meetings that showed the people who use Midtown want bike lanes, business developers who ask for bike lanes, and repeated documentation that parking is currently only a perceived problem in Midtown.

Its unfortunate, but due to a few business owners (not even building owners in most cases) who have council members ears....we'll end up with a missed opportunity to build a truly Great Street to live with for the next 50 years.

If you still want to try to force their hands....please make an effort to get to the council meeting and put in your two cents!

1 comment:

  1. Pretty much a good overview...I'm pretty pessimistic and feel like we are going to get a street barely better than something designed in the 1970s when all is said and done. I'm guessing the RTC will find more ways to erode some of the Great Street components by the time it is unveiled in a couple of years.