Tag Archives: Reno Gazette Journal

more bike lanes coming

From the Reno Gazette Journal, September 1, 2011

Plumas bike lanes approved:

 The council gave its OK for the Regional Transportation Commission to replace parking on the east side of Plumas Street between Moana Lane and Urban Road with a bike lane. The west side of the street will get a bike lane, too. The east side of the street includes a series of multifamily and single family homes with anywhere from three to 10 vehicles parking on the street at any given time, said Steve Bunnell, a traffic engineer with the city. “It’s relatively light,” he said. The bike lanes will connect with existing routes south of Moana Lane on Plumas Street and nearby Arlington Avenue. Bikers will likely use Urban Road to get to Plumas. No one opposed the bike lane at the meeting.

I was riding on this stretch of road on a Saturday back in June. I was with 3 other riders and as we headed north I looked ahead and saw two other riders ahead of us. I thought, “if only I had my camera, this would be a great photo to show the need for a bike lane here”. This stretch of road connects to other heavily used bike lanes and will be a welcome improvement.

Comments on the Reno Gazette Journal website about this the day before the council vote included the usual grumpy drivers complaining about cyclists riding too far from the edge of the road. It’s nice to know that no one was protesting against this change at the council meeting.

I feel much safer riding on a road that has a bike lane. It may be a false sense of security, but I really think it helps drivers stay away from cyclists. It’s nice that Reno has put in so many bike lanes this summer. I now have my choice of more cycling routes where I feel safe.

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The sentence for the sheriff deputy who ran into and killed a cyclist

In keeping with my past documentation of the Kevin Albertson tragedy, I am posting the Reno Gazette Journal article about the sheriff deputy’s sentencing. I will comment after the article.

Deputy gets 200 hours community service in death of bicyclist; mother forgives him

By Martha Bellisle January 7, 2011

What began as a sentencing hearing for a sheriff’s deputy who struck and killed a bicyclist ended with tears and hugs after the victim’s mother told the officer that she forgave him and wanted good to come from her son’s death. 

Instead of spending time in jail on the one misdemeanor count of vehicular manslaughter, Washoe County Sheriff’s deputy Matthew Durham must complete 200 hours of community service in the next six months.

The sentence, which will include talking to students about inattentive driving, was based on an agreement made between Durham and Angela Albertson, the mother of 21-year-old bicyclist Kevin Albertson, who died after being struck by Durham’s 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe on Lemmon Drive in July.

When they walked out of the courtroom, Albertson went over to Durham and they held each other and cried.

Albertson said her son was a “forgiving soul” and would have wanted the case to end this way.

“It was a terrible mistake. It was a terrible accident,” she said after the brief hearing. “He’s suffering just like I do,” she said of Durham. “He’s remorseful. He knows he did something wrong.”

In the courtroom, Albertson told the judge that while her son’s life was cut short and her life was destroyed, she knows Durham is also suffering.

“Jail time won’t do anybody any good,” she told Justice of the Peace Patricia Lynch. “Nothing’s going to bring my son back, so we have to make the best out of it.”

Durham told Angela Albertson that he was “truly sorry” and regrets “what has happened to your son.”

“His pain has long departed, however the pain that exists for the survivors will never relinquish,” Durham said, his voice breaking.

“I cannot go back and change the events that led to this moment,” he added. “I can only try to atone for what has transpired as a result of a terrible accident, one that has affected so many lives.”

Scott Freeman, Durham’s lawyer, said the sentence “was a good way to recognize the victim in this case.”

Durham dedicated his life to law enforcement to help people and has been deeply impacted by what happened.

“He was doing police business and his attention was taken off the road for a second,” Freeman said of the accident. “He’s living in his own private heck right now.”

His community service will consist of speaking at schools about inattentive driving, and speaking at victim impact panels about the dangers of drunken driving, Freeman said.

In addition to the community service, Durham’s license will be suspended for one year, and he paid $500 in restitution to cover Kevin’s funeral expenses.

My thoughts: no matter where you stand on the drivers vs. cyclists debate, I think you have to find the good in this outcome. And since Kevin was “a forgiving soul” this outcome is the best tribute to him. I think Angela Albertson must be an amazing person, to have worked toward such a forgiving outcome in such a short time since her son’s death. What a great example she is for all of us.

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more irate drivers vs. cyclists

Here’s an article from today’s Reno Gazette Journal that adds to my discussion of irate drivers vs. cyclists in this blog on June 5, 2010.

Bicyclists, drivers in road tug-of-war

By Kara LaPoint • klapoint@rgj.com • June 13, 2010

Verdi resident John Leeming has been screamed at, honked at, foghorned and has had doors opened at him from moving vehicles — all while riding his bike around Reno.

 Dean Deming shares similar experiences, and then some: being run off the road and getting hit from behind.

“Every time I go out, I wonder if it will be the last,” Deming said.

Leeming and Deming are among bicyclists who say they feel a sense of fear when riding. And according to Sgt. Jim Stegmaier of the Reno police Traffic Division, that fear is legitimate.

“It’s definitely a huge issue in Washoe County,” Stegmaier said.

But while bikers said some drivers make them feel unsafe, drivers have their own complaints.

Reno resident David Mueller said bicyclists ignore stop signs, ride on the left side of the bike lane, forcing drivers to veer around.

They also ride two abreast on busy streets, seeming “blissfully unaware that they are blocking a lane,” he said.

Bikers “constantly whine” about wanting to have rights, but then don’t follow the rules of the road, Mueller said.

Bicycle and pedestrian enforcement are increasing, Stegmaier said, as the result of a $36,000 grant from the Office of Traffic Safety in Carson City.

Leeming said he rides twice a week from Verdi.

While he said he has numerous fears — primarily distracted drivers — he’s still willing to ride, but friends are not.

“People are afraid they’ll get clobbered,” he said.

Leeming cited distracted drivers and roadside debris as the main hazards, plus motorists failing to give bikers room on the road.

“Bicyclists have a right to the lane,” he said, “but drivers don’t always want to share the road.”

Deming said he has seen Reno drivers that appear to “have it out for bicycles,” including throwing things at him from car windows. He said a man once hung out of a truck swinging a shovel at him. A woman in Verdi also ran him off the road.

Stegmaier said that while such violations are infrequent, they are taken seriously. When complaints are made, battery or assault with a deadly weapon can be filed.

 Leeming said he sees bicyclists riding two or three abreast or blowing through stop signs. But, he said, he takes his place in line at four-way stops and queues up behind lights and left turn lanes, and most riders he knows do the same.

 “I just have so much to lose in an intersection with a car,” he said. “Even if we’re right, we’re dead right.”

Deming also sees riders disobeying rules of the road and understands complaints about bicyclists.

“Yes, we get the same rights (as cars), but we’re also bound by the same laws, and I think some cyclists forget that,” he said. “As bicyclists, I think we must be more conscientious.”

While Stegmaier said lack of knowledge is a major safety issue, he said drivers not wanting to share the road also is a big problem.

“They feel that the bicycle should only ride in areas with a designated bicycle lane,” he said. “That’s nice when they’re there, but cyclists can only use what’s available, and motorists have a hard time with that.”

He said that as more people turn to bikes for transportation because of economic reasons and changing weather, it becomes increasingly important to find safety solutions.

In addition to adding “share the road” billboards along bike routes and stepping up enforcement against both bikes and cars, Stegmaier said police distribute booklets to riders and motorists on traffic stops to inform them of their shared responsibilities.

Stegmaier said that if he could get only one message out, it would be for everyone to take a little more time and give each other more respect.

Deming, Leeming and cyclist Josh Black, who has lived in several states, suggested adding questions on bicycle safety to driving tests, distributing safety guides with car purchases and designating bike routes.

“It’s not slowing down,” Black said of the increase in cyclists. “Reno needs to embrace the fact that bikers are becoming more common, rather than being resistant.

“This is a huge opportunity for Reno to really shine.”

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