Reno City Council to discuss, possibly adopt downtown’s micromobility plan this Wednesday

by Mike Van Houten / Oct 6, 2023

It's been a long journey for micromobility downtown, pun intended lol. 

This Wednesday the Reno City Council will consider approving and incorporating the following downtown micromobility plan, incorporating it into RTC’s larger regional transporation plan, of which RTC would then fund the construction of the micromobility network.

It’s part of the Reno City Council’s wider-scope of downtown safety, connectivity, and micromobility improvements. This includes improved walking, biking, and transit connectivity to make it safer and easier for the public to access more sustainable ways to visit downtown, the Truckee River, the University of Nevada, Reno, and surrounding local businesses while enhancing road safety for all users. According to the staff report for this Wednesday’s meeting, in a little over a year, the Council prioritized a significant number of actions to support this goal. Below is a summary list of those items:

1. Approval of Virginia Street Placemaking Study.
2. Approval design contract for implementation of Virginia Street Placemaking - Phase 1.
3. Allocation of ARPA funding for Placemaking.
4. Acceptance of the Micromobility Pilot Study.
5. Acceptance of Interlocal Agreement with RTC for reimbursement for the purchase of Multi-Use Path Maintenance Equipment.
6. Acceptance of Move United Grant to Support Access to Reno's Adaptive Cycling Center.
7. Acceptance of Bird Scooter franchise agreement.
8. Approval of Interlocal agreements with the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) for maintenance & rehabilitation projects which included micromobilty.
9. Approval of City of Reno Capital Improvement program, which includes micromobility.
10. Acceptance of Grant from the Carson Truckee Water Conservancy District (CTWCD) for bank stabilization of the Truckee River under the Kuenzli Street bridge.
A significant amount of community engagement has taken place, including in-person as well as online engagement through surveys (Table 1) to gather input on seven downtown corridors.
5 Engagement Activity Metric Public feedback virtual/in-person events -
4 Bicycle Community/Stakeholder meetings
4 (4,500) Public Surveys – Placemaking, Pilot & MM Network
26 City of Reno Public Work-Property/Business owner meetings
4 Community Boards (NAB, RAAC, CMAC) Presentations Notifications to all NABs for public engagement meetings
3 Workshops - League of American Bicyclists, Dutch Cycling Embassy, NACTO

This Wednesday, City of Reno staff will seek direction to approve the Downtown Micromobility Network of Streets – in the graphic below, which then requires additional funding in the Regional Transportation Plan to complete. This includes four downtown corridors that have the greatest support when evaluating three fundamental areas: transportation engineering (safety and transportation network needs of all users), community, and property/business owners.

If approved, this plan will require authorization from the RTC to include these streets into the RTIP. The RTC could then use $20 Million of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funding that the RTC has available.

According to the staff report, City of Reno staff and RTC staff worked closely with a consultant working under contract for the RTC. The consultant prepared visual conceptual cross-sections, evaluated project impacts, and developed updated cost estimates for the listed corridors for use in public outreach, project prioritization, funding allocation, and further grant applications.

RTC has already prioritized 6th Street (Virginia Street to 4th Street) and submitted this corridor for a Safe Streets For All (SSFA) Grant. This would provide another east/west corridor approximately 1.2 miles long and estimated costs at $11 million. The 6th Street corridor is supported by transportation engineering, community and property/business but it is not included in the graphic above because another funding plan is being pursued by the RTC.

According to city staff, four downtown corridors have the greatest support when evaluating all three fundamental areas; transportation engineering (safety and network needs for all users), community input, and property/business owner impact. These four areas shown in the graphic above are Virginia Street, Sinclair/Lake/Evans, Vine Street, 5th Street and 6th Street.

According to the staff report for Wednesday’s meeting, generally, all businesses support expanding the micromobility downtown but not on Center Street/University Way and 3rd Street because of the loss of vehicle lanes, loading areas, and/or parking lanes.

According to the report, many businesses also expressed that Center Street/University Way has higher vehicle speeds and micromodes are difficult to see by vehicle drivers, as people who observe the traffic patterns on Center Street/University Way every day, they had concerns about safety especially at non-signalized intersections.

The 3rd Street corridor was the least supported by community input and is also not supported by transportation engineers due to the limited amount of right-of-way and the large number of uncontrolled crossing of streets with high vehicle volumes. Additionally, some of the adjacent property owners are also not in support due to the loss of parking needed to accommodate the corridor.

The Center Street/University Way option is not supported by transportation engineers because of vehicle speeds, vehicle volumes, reduction of travel lanes, number of major driveway access conflicts, lack of visibility and expectations of vehicle operators, and intersection conflicts with micromodes traveling against the direction of vehicle traffic. This corridor is also not supported by the many of the property/business owners spoken to because of the loss of vehicle lanes, loading areas, and/or parking lanes. The community did support this corridor for a connected route.

Whether or not microbility infrastructure should be installed on Center Street was the focus on great controversy and several investigative reporting articles by both RGJ and ThisisReno.

If approved, the design phase would be in 2023/2024, bidding for the project goes out in late 2024, and construction would occur in 2025/2026.

If you haven’t already participated in this process as a downtown resident or business owner, or just someone who frequents downtown, this is the meeting you’ll want to address any support or concerns via public comment. The meeting is at 10 am in Reno City Hall Chambers but as usual will also be streamed online.

You can hear and provide public comment by using this link:

You can find the packet for this agenda item (and the rest of the city council items) by following this link.

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