By Rachel Leber
RENO, Nev. — Construction is currently underway on a new multi-use path and bike lanes along Evans Avenue that will better connect the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) to downtown Reno — while also making it easier and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians to get around.
The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) is the entity in charge of construction and implementation of the project, and began construction over the 2017/2018 winter break. RTC had crews working on some of the electrical work for the project, in addition to grating and construction of the multi-use path along the stretch between Jodi Drive to McCarran Boulevard from the beginning of winter break until spring semester began in mid-January.
Construction has since been put on hold until March in order to minimize the impact on students and faculty at UNR. Plans are for the crew to pick the project back up again in March, weather permitting. With these plans as the expectation, the project will be complete by the time students graduate in May 2018.
“I am very excited about the start of construction on the bike improvement project, and have actually been involved in many ways over the past seven years,” said Amy Fitch, lecturer at the School of Community Health Sciences and chair of the Bicycle Working Group at UNR. “Ultimately this is great for the university in terms of environmental sustainability, maximizing space for academic uses — rather than parking garages — and promoting a healthier workforce and student body.”
The project starts on Evans Avenue near Greater Nevada Field in downtown Reno and heads north around the east side of UNR to McCarran Boulevard. The project came to fruition via the requests of the greater community, and will improve connectivity for people in the community — especially students — who use the area to walk or bike for daily commute and transportation, according to Amy Cummings, director of planning at RTC in a recent article from KoloTV.
In addition to this new path being constructed, UNR has been recognized in recent years for their many efforts and achievements in being a “bicycle friendly” campus. The League of American Bicyclists recognized UNR in 2015 with a bronze level designation as a Bicycle Friendly University, which joined UNR with 127 other colleges and universities across 42 states in this accomplishment.
In the years leading up to the recognition, the UNR Campus Bicycle Committee created a campus bicycle guide and map, added bike racks to some of the campus escort vans, offered promotional item giveaways and added a bike repair workshop in the residence halls.
In addition, UNR parking services encourages bicycling as a convenient transportation option by providing free bicycle permits and bicycle lockers for rent. The permit registration system helps gather an accurate count of bicyclists, which helps the committee advocate for more resources for bicyclists on campus, according to an article on the UNR website. UNR parking services also offers five free daily parking permits for use on days when alternate transportation is just not possible to those who have registered their bicycles.
“When UNR received designation as a Bicycle Friendly University at the bronze level in 2015, the evaluation area where we were weakest was engineering,” said Fitch. “The new bike path project goes a long way to improving bicycle connectivity around campus, making it easier for students, faculty and staff who already do or are considering bicycle commuting.”