Carson eyeing two-wheeled tourists |

Carson eyeing two-wheeled tourists

Sandi Hoover

Carson City could become the first in the state to be certified as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

Muscle Powered, a group dedicated to increasing biking and walking in Carson City, received support Thursday from the Board of Supervisors to make a formal application to the League of American Bicyclists.

Dan Allison, a member of Muscle Powered and leader of the Safe Routes to School program for the city, told the board the city would be applying for bronze-level support to begin with.

He said studies show that bicycle tourism is the No. 3 vacation event sought by visitors. Leaders in other cities who have been awarded the designation report a better outdoor image to market to tourists.

One of the problems the city might face in luring tourists is making bicycles more available through bike rentals, however.

“The question always comes up that there are no rentals in Carson City,” said Supervisor Molly Walt, because vendors don’t see a profit in bicycle rentals here.

Supervisor Pete Livermore suggested that the bicycle rental outfitters around Lake Tahoe be contacted to see if they would be interested in expanding their business to Carson City, which could provide them with year-around business.

Carson City Transportation Director Patrick Pittenger said Carson City has miles of bike paths.

“It’s been a really important thing (to add bike paths) when we’ve been building streets,” Pittenger said.

Because of the new sidewalks on Fairview, he said, people can now easily get to Roop Street.

He also mentioned that the recently completed work on Curry Street included bike lanes and that when the Roop Street widening project is complete, residents can safely use bike lanes there as well.

Connecting paths throughout town has been very successful, and has cost the city very little since the Parks and Recreation Department has obtained grants for a lot of the work. Pittenger also receives grants for bicycle lanes.

Friday, crews were busy building bike lanes from the roundabout on East Fifth Street east to Eagle Valley Middle School, and in the fall, the lanes will connect from Hells Bells Road to LePire Drive, Pittenger said.

Besides the two departments working on the projects, the Nevada Department of Transportation does its share, such as the paths under and around the freeway.

“One of the ideas is to get people off the roads,” he said.

Pittenger said it isn’t going to be an overnight success.

“If you talk to officials in cities like Davis, (Calif.), they will tell you it takes decades. It’s about taking the time and being opportunistic, and doing what we can within budget – and it’s about progress,” he said.

Another part of the process is safety education. Bike rodeos are offered for kids in Carson City, but adults also could benefit from safety education.

To be considered for the designation, the city would have to commit to making Carson City more bicycle friendly, which would mean even more bike lanes, reduced traffic speeds and more bike racks throughout town.