Vision for Downtown

Vibrant, Safe, Connected, Diverse, Walkable

TMBA, The City of Reno, University ASU & Downtown Businesses partnered to re-imagine a healthier downtown in 2018. That work led to the Center Street Cycle-track, a safe, connected and protected bike and multimodal path from the University to midtown that embodies the vision of a Vibrant, Safe, Connected, Diverse, and Walkable downtown. This project has become a catalyst for the discussion of revitalization and re-imaging downtown. 

Now, the City of Reno and RTC want to take this important work a step farther: How does Center Street fit into a broader vision of downtown? The 5 points below are a guide for a holistic view of a successful downtown.

  1. VIBRANT: The prospect of driving down Virginia Street draws thousands of tourists a year. Expansion of the arts in downtown has also drawn more people to the credit of casinos. The opportunity exists to completely close Virginia Street between 4th and 2nd streets. However, Casinos currently offer very few amenities in that corridor with no storefront access, creating blocks of unused and unappealing space. Casinos need to open appealing storefronts and build a two-way bike path on Virginia street on the west side of the street to serve casinos when they have desirable amenities. When Virginia Street is closed for special events and or becomes too congested, cyclists and other users will be able to ride on the safe and protected Center Street Cycle-track.

  2. SAFE: People will use facilities that are safe. A protected bike path on Center Street from the University to Midtown like the Center Street Cycletrack offers the safety and consistency that will encourage thousands of people to get on bikes and travel. Casinos must encourage the same type of infrastructure on Virginia Street to draw customers when they have desirable storefronts and streets are not closed for special events.

  3. CONNECTED: People will not use facilities that are not connected to anything. The City and RTC are considering 3rd street for an east-west bicycle facility. While more bicycle facilities are desirable, bike paths must be evaluated first on their connectivity. 3rd street is a dead-end at both ends meaning that it is not connected. There are also few businesses along 3rd that would benefit from any bicycle traffic.

  4. DIVERSE: We can not ignore the health of overall downtown and focus only on Virginia Street. Adjacent streets to Virginia need economic development and a diversity of businesses for a healthy downtown. Virginia Street is already too congested. Center Street, Sierra, and fourth street can benefit from additional traffic that will be generated by bike facilities, boosting the economy and providing new opportunities for a diversity of businesses. The City of Reno should offer incentives for opening businesses in downtown similar to the vibrant West Street Market.

  5. WALKABLE: Downtown must be walkable and connected to adjacent neighborhoods to boost businesses and quality of life. The Center Street Cycle-track is an example of a project that connects and boosts a sense of community.

    • More bicycle racks mean less competition for parking spots.

    • We can accommodate walking and biking infrastructure AND make it better for drivers. More cycle-tracks means fewer drivers on the road and less traffic. Downtown Reno is too car-oriented with overbuilt one-way streets (discouraging to pedestrians because the speeds make them dangerous) with narrow sidewalks and few crosswalks with lots of space-wasting surface parking. Each parking spot can fit 15 bicycles. What would businesses rather have, one customer or 15?

    • Desire for connection has been expressed repeatedly in polls (RTC’s 2050 RTP polls, City of Reno’s Reimagine Reno polls), every planning document any local government produces (TMRPA plan, Reimagine Reno Master Plan, RTC’s RTP, City of Reno Sustainability Plan, RTC’s Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan), and with support from the business community (EDAWN, Renaissance Hotel, Downtown Reno Partnership, Patagonia, many local businesses).