Center Street Cycletrack

Project Intro:

There is a plan to bring a protected, two-way cycletrack to Center Street. The project is currently in the engineering and design phase at RTC and is due to be constructed in 2023. This is a key piece of making bicycling viable through central Reno. It connects 3 key bikeable neighborhoods that have currently have limited bicycle infrastructure: UNR, Downtown, and Midtown.


We successfully worked with RTC, the City of Reno, and local businesses to initiate the approval, design, and construction of a two-way, protected cycle track on Center Street from the University to Cheney St. in MidTown. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2021.

Historical Information:

During the Virginia Street corridor study from 2013 to 2014, there was a significant struggle with fitting everything in that people wanted in the new Virginia Street. Through extensive outreach and public engagement, the RTC along with the bicycling community and local stakeholders agreed upon compromise for how to address bicyclists: they would have a safe parallel route to Virginia Street connecting UNR, Downtown, and midtown but there was not enough room on the road to fit a dedicated bicycle facility on Virginia Street itself.  This compromise has now been set in stone on Virginia Street south of Liberty Avenue; there are no dedicated bicycle facilities and no space for them.  While the first part of the deal has been done, bicyclists eagerly awaited the selection of an alternative route.  Following an alternative analysis in 2019 which included a protected bicycle facility on Virginia Street, the best and most feasible option was identified: a two-way protected cycle track on Center Street between 9th Street and Cheney Street. The study also stated that a protected bicycle facility on Virginia Street was the only option deemed infeasible due to frequent closures for Special Events and the “unacceptable traffic operations throughout the corridor” removing left turns would cause (Downtown Bicycle Facility Alternatives Analysis – Center, Sierra, and Virginia; 2019). The City of Reno and RTC Boards both approved the findings and the Center Street Cycle Track was recommended to move forward into the engineering process. Funding for design and construction of the project was included in the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) which was just approved in March 2021.  Within the RTP, the Center Street Cycle track was identified as a project supporting land-use and economic development policies and a key safety project.
This is where the logical process to finally deliver on the grand bargain between bicyclists and the RTC begins to fall apart.  The RTC, at the urging of the Row Casinos (ROW Letter November 30, 2020), paused the Center Street Cycle Track project during their August board meeting in order to help the City conduct a placemaking study focused on creating a strong vision for the future of Virginia Street in the downtown area.  RTC Executive Director stated that there is no pause on the project but instead that “I think as we’ve gotten to that 30% percent design [on Center Street], we realize that we probably look a little more closely at Virginia Street before we go to 90%.” And that “There’s just things that came up along the way that caused us to think we should consider a bit more before we get too far down the road and kick ourselves and saying ‘why didn’t we think of that.’” (Reno News & Review article, Center Street Cycle Track Derailed?) 

No public agency would intentionally follow such an illogical planning process, so what are the things that came up? What changed so significantly in the downtown area since March, 2021 that the protected bicycle facilities on Virginia Street that have twice been deemed infeasible by the RTC itself are now being reconsidered?  What new route could be identified to connect UNR, downtown, and midtown that can be constructed with minimal impact to traffic (RTC Staff report Item 6.1 8/20/21) that has not already been studied and analyzed?
Our world is burning with the impacts of climate change and the IPCC just issued a red alert about the urgent need to address climate change.  One of the major strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector is to get people out of cars and onto other modes, including the bicycle.  For anyone who has ridden a bicycle on our current bicycle network, it is no surprise that the majority of people will not get on a bicycle unless they feel safe and comfortable (Four Types of Cyclists, Geller).  The Center Street Cycle Track represents the safe and comfortable kind of bicycle facility that would actually get people onto a bike who are not already riding and make a tangible impact towards reducing local greenhouse gas emissions.

The RTC is failing to live up to their end of the bargain and delaying a vitally important safety and sustainability project for no other stated purpose than to re-study a concept that they themselves have already soundly rejected at the suggestion of a single major constituent, The Row Casinos.  If you would like to see the Center Street Cycle Track continue to move forward, please call your Reno City Council Member today and tell them we can not delay this project and the need to boldly address climate change a moment longer. 

Letters of Submitted Through the Safe Mobility for All Survey:

As the City and RTC re-consider Center Street and an alternative bike path on Virginia Street through a “Placemaking Study,” the Mayor of the City of Reno, Hillary Schieve suggested that TMBA conduct a survey of supporters. As part of that survey, we invited people to leave a comment under Why is a protected path on Virginia feasible or not feasible? In just two months, respondents submitted 100 comments. Here they are the ones without names. They were submitted to the City of Reno and RTC on behalf of TMBA.

Why is a protected path on Virginia feasible or not feasible?

1. With enough money, we can build anything

2. Too many special events for it to be on Virginia street

3. Just the engineering of it wouldn’t make it work

4. Not enough room on Virginia street

5. I don’t think there is enough room for the road and sidewalks on Virginia.  Plus, once you get through downtown, Virginia Street through midtown is single lane with sharrows.  If a protected path is going to be put in, it should connect the whole distance.  I would prefer a protected path on Sierra over Virginia.  Plus, Virginia Street is closed more frequently for special events, whereas Sierra and Center stay open.  

6. “Feasible means it can happen if enough people ask for it. Anything is doable. 

7. Close Virginia street to cars and make it a pedestrian / bike road.

8. It’s feasible because the City has rebuilt these roads before and can easily do so again if they choose to. Having bike lanes/protected bicycle access to these regions modernizes and improves access to all the areas it passes. 

9. There is always a way to make it work.

10. It’s to narrow and not economically feasible.  Better to lower the speed limit to 15mph

11. Virginia Street should not be a car thoroughfare. Virginia Street through the core of Downtown should be transformed into a pedestrian mall, similar to Pearl Street in Boulder, CO. A bicycle/mixed use path could be incorporated into this design, but should not be used as a substitution for a connected, protected two-way cycletrack on Center Street between UNR and Midtown. Both projects together are preferred and feasible. 

12. Protection means that there is a significant barrier between it and a person on a bike or scooter. Appealing barriers like planters take up about two feet of space. It is doubtful that there is enough space for a 5-foot bike lane and two feet for a meaningful barrier on both sides of the road on Virginia street.

13. Anything is feasible if it can be supported and funded, but Center would be the better choice.

14. Wide enough, hopefully. Make them one way (. 1 on center, 1 on Virginia)

15. I’m certain a study could verify if it could work on Virginia street

16. It’s wide and direct to all parts of town 

17. Center Street only, because casinos wont allow it to every happen on Virgninia street

18. I think it makes the most sense to have one protected route but also a buffered lane or bike lane on the other street, so cyclists have an option to take either one, according to their needs.

19. Route closures during events, better to keep Virginia cars and people and give Center to cycles.

20. The streets are wide on Virginia and Center

21. The right of way is too narrow already on Virginia Street.  A bike lane or buffered lane on Virginia might work.

22. We should be aiming to reduce car traffic as much as possible on Virginia, especially in Midtown.  It’s doable if we set the priority.
23. I think it is feasible but would have to be closed more often for special events. A protected path on both streets would be great, but if we had to choose one or the other I would opt for Center Street since it wouldn’t be affected by special events closures on Virginia

24. There should be room to create a protected lane on Virginia Street.

25. Virginia street gets closed all the time and there’s no WAY that there is enough space to fit it!

26. If we can put in huge sidewalks, we can put in bike paths on Virginia.

27. If North Virginia Street is being considered for a pedestrian pavilion, revitalization type project of sorts, bikes are inappropriate when you have car and foot traffic, or only foot traffic. Church and Pearl Streets in Burlington & Boulder should serve as examples for Virginia Street, and on both streets bikes and cars are excluded due to the high amount of pedestrian traffic.

28. The road not wide enough for Virginia Street to have a protected bike path and is closed too frequently

29. Virginia Street has plenty of space for it!

30. We build complex highways with public funding (Spaghetti Bowl).  Physically possible (feasible) is one thing.  Why this would make Reno better (incentivized development) is because cheap no emission transportation is a cultural perk to living near UNR, downtown, midtown in Reno.  My husband and kids love to walk and bike, and be included in our neighborhood.  This includes enjoying the day on our daily commute to school and work, and even the grocery store on weekends.  This includes taking joy ebike rides to look at the neighborhood Christmas lights at this time of year.  This includes feeling confident we get to participate in our community economies without the hassle of loading in and out of the car.  It is a more relaxing convenience than a stressful orchestration event, because I get much needed fresh air with the freedom to enjoy my surroundings with my family.  My life will be better when I can do this more freely, when lanes are protected, well lit, and have emergency contact stations to deter anyone who would jeopardize that peace.

31. Narrower streets, more traffic, and pedestrians 

32. Lots of pedestrian traffic might complicated through access on bicycle, depends how Virginia street was structured whether feasible or not 

33. I don’t like 2-way protected bicycle lanes.  I don’t feel safe riding 20+ MPH going in one direction with other bicycles going in the other direction.  I also don’t like crossing the road just to access a 2-way protected bicycle lane.  They also tend to be cleaned less and have more debris.  A buffered lane is much more preferable.  

34. Virginia Street is already 2 to 3 lanes for turning or parking. Would need to be like Mid-Town, extended up to UNR. A separate protected path would be great but safety at night and even during the day is an issue.

35. They just need to take out the median, take out street parking and make the sidewalks a lot shorter. there’s plenty of space for a protected path.

36. Too many distracted or tipsy tourists both in cars and on foot on Virginia Street.  Too many special events that close Virginia.  
i think it is feasible, but there would need to be some serious changes for safe biking

37. I do think Virginia street is feasible but seeing how the city spends their money I absolutely do not trust that this type of project will be done competently in a way that actually benefits anyone. Perhaps a third party needs to be involved. 

38. Virginia Street is north south and a direct line between UNR and Midtown and the speeds are slower for cars. I use to commute on Center Street but the speeds of cars going over 30mph increased and I felt unsafe with cars traveling 40+mph on Center street and not protection even though there are three lanes. Right hand turn lane at 1-80 creates a dangerous situation for bicyclists.

39. Virginia is the primary bus route.  The City of Reno just completed a large renovation of Virginia and it is not feasible to expect another significant project.  Connecting Center is likely the better option and I would even be in favor of shutting down center to vehicular traffic and make a pedestrian/bike zone.  

40. To much traffic on Virginia St.

41. For myself and my family riding between midtown and UNR, I think Evans or Arlington/Ralston are better routes – away from car congestion altogether.

42. Where there’s a will, there is a way on Virginia! 

43. It doesn’t seem wide enough on Virginia, and it’s two-way

44. Feasibility is complicated, and I don’t have sufficient facts to know for sure.

45. Not feasible on Virginia street because of Budgetary Constraints

46. the road is relatively wide for the vehicle speed limit. They could we thinned to make room for a protected path
Virginia is too narrow now with the new street renovations

47. Can’t quite answer because I don’t know how wide the right of way is on Virginia, but reduce to1 lane in both directions like it is from Plumb ish North.

48. Let’s make Virginia street happen. Anything in this regard is feasible with appropriate planning and interest. I got in an accident in a bike lane and I know it’s not enough.

49. I think anything is feasible if there is enough support behind the idea. I think it would add to the aesthetics of Virginia street.
make one lane alternative and one lane for cars

50. (Virginia Street) Not enough space

51. Most car drivers are unsure of how to share the road, or are unwilling to. Most people believe that roads are built for the car alone, and that cars should be the only traffic on the road. That said, I’ve also observed many cyclists also not following the rules of the road and acting unpredictably. Most people whom I’ve asked whether they would consider cycling more said they would if they felt safer or had a more protected lane. Therefore, if there were a protected lane on Virginia, I think more people would be willing to get on their bikes and use it. More butts on bikes would decrease emissions, reduce traffic and parking issues, and help the population get healthier. Most importantly, a separate lane would greatly benefit low income workers, who may rely solely on a bicycle as transportation.

52. To me, it’s a matter of appropriate city planning and construction to add a protected bike path to any street, so I believe it is completely doable on Virginia.

53. There is a wide sidewalk and shoulder along most of Virginia. It isn’t the worst street to share with motorists, but a protected lane would make me more likely to visit businesses along the street.

54. “I should say yes if that remarkably wide sidewalk wasn’t put in, in addition to the center dividers (on Virginia). Would love to see the costs of that, because I’ve not yet spoken to a person who like myself lives in midtown that thinks that redesign was an improvement. 

55. (Virginia Street) would drive traffic to side streets though, no? My thoughts are Center makes the most sense (and I live on Center and bike regularly). If a second directional is needed, Forest and onto Sierra seems to make sense. “

56. Every weekend from May through October is a closed street event (On Virginia). If we are detouring every week what is the point? 

57. I think Virginia Street in downtown should be closed to all traffic. Make it pedestrian and bike traffic only. Many cities do this and we find it to be very enjoyable. Businesses can put tables outside, more foot traffic. Sierra and Center Street should be for the cars. 

58. (Virginia St.) Too narrow

59. Because not everyone is comfortable riding bikes. The roads are unsafe because of people.

60. Vehicle traffic through downtown should be moved to center and Sierra streets by lowering the speed limit on Virginia and adding more space for bikes and pedestrians 

61. We should have many protected paths, and I think we could make it work on Virginia Street as well as Center Street. And Sierra.
On a hunch, it seems like at this point it would be quite expensive to put in a protected path on Virginia. If, however, such money could be raised, it would make travel on Virginia much safer and smoother for everyone. I do, however, believe that the better route would be Center Street.

62. Traffic and street parking. 

63. I believe a path on Virginia Street is feasible, but only by eliminating one direction of traffic, and not closing the track to downtown events- which would limit its usefulness. Center street is still preferred because of its lengthy direct connection between midtown and UNR. 

64. May not need it (Virginia st)  if we have the Center St one?

65. Either put two way on Virginia, or one way on Center and one way on Sierra.

66. It appears the development along Virginia st would preclude constructing a protected path.

67. I wish they would have done a protected route when they did all that construction. between center, is it Holcomb, Virginia and Wells there are enough arteries to create one way roads. I wish parking was on one side of the road and a protected lane on the other. I guess I would also be okay with a protected lane on Forest, Mt. Rose and Holcomb then center to get me close to Virginia shopping, bars and restaurants.

68. With center and Sierra streets as the main routes for cars, Virginia is a great option for bikes to safely get through downtown 
except for the occasional lost tourist traffic thru Virginia St downtown is modest at best.

69. Virginia street is closed often for special events. It is very congested and lacks adequate space for a separated bike lane
It’s feasible, but a tram is better on Virginia

70. The “new” midtown road is a very poor design for both cars and bikes.  The design is very unsafe and encourages driver/biker conflict.  Shame on the city for such short sighted design and disregard for safety.  Midtown is a great example of how NOT to design a bike friendly city !

71. Why not? (On Virginia)  

72. it’s a road that is wide enough and slow enough to incorporate cycle paths. Plus it would make Virginia street much more appealing to people wanting to hang out downtown

73. I don’t honestly know, but I had to pick one.  It seems like it would be hard to add space like that (to Virginia). 

74. It is wide enough for a bike lane and it is slow enough to be safe.p

75. Virginia Street is way to thin in downtown, it would make no sense to combine that obvious car-commuter route with bikes.

76. There’s not even a shoulder (on Virginia). 

77. If you provide the infrastructure people will want to ride more

78. Make Virginia a one-way street.

79. The safer the route the more use it will get.

80. C’mon , Virginia street is a MAIN commercial street.  A bike route on a parallel street would be much safer, cheaper and probably used more. I personally stay off the main business streets and zig-zag the side streets.

81. Cyclists have the right of way over cars, so a protected path *anywhere* is feasible. Cars can slow down or take a different street. 

82. Less traffic on Virginia due to more side roads buses can be scary though

83. I think it (Virginia St) is feasible. It is already a low speed limit area through downtown. There are some sections with dedicated turning lanes that could possibly undergo a road diet to make way for a protected bike lane. I don’t think it works or does anything to create a sharrow in this section like midtown.

84. The road (Virginia) appears to be too narrow for creating a protected lane

85. Speed limit being 25 Ilis enough

86. (No to Virginia) Cuz we share the lane with buses 

87. (No to Virginia) Heavy transit traffic

88. My opinion is that it (Virginia) is not feasible downtown because of careless drivers in a hurry

89. Yes (Virginia is feasible) if all vehicle traffic is banned and rerouted to other street

90. No room with the cement curb going down the middle of the street (On Virginia)

91. There just isn’t enough room to accommodate all the lanes necessary to make travel safe for all travel types.

92. There is ample room for a safe protected bike path on Virginia street. Why should I have to risk my life from cars if I choose to use a bicycle for transportation? Why are roads made safe for people in car’s, but not for people on bikes?

93. (I am) Concerned it Will turn out like the bicycle Planning and implimintation did on Virginia Str In Midtown

94. Anything is possible with enough time and money

95. Virginia Street (is) unnecessary for vehicles. Sierra and Center (are) adequate especially if parking offered. 

96. If you can do it on Center you should be able to do it on Virginia(?)

97. (No to Virginia) Not enough roadway and ROW

98. Virginia Street used to be 4 lanes through downtown.  Make it one lane each way, with a bike path on each side.  Vehicles in a hurry can use Center St. or Sierra St.