NDOT’s Bill Story, Nevada Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, spoke at the March 7 Eureka County Commission meeting on efforts to create bicycle plans for all rural areas in Nevada, and for Eureka County. Story related that the Nevada Statewide Bicycle Plan completed in 2013 focuses on areas outside of the four metropolitan areas. County bicycle plans were recommended in the 2013 State Bike Plan and plans for the 14 rural counties were funded.
Eureka is on what’s called the Western Express Transcontinental Route, which is the main connector between San Francisco and Colorado where the route ties in to the major Trans America Route which goes from Florence, Oregon to Washington, DC. That is the busiest cross country route, and a short-cut from San Francisco, and will be christened Bike Route 79 according to the feds. The route will be signed throughout the country. Story said the vision for Eureka County residents and visitors is a “pleasant, safe bicycle environment.”
Nevada will have three bike routes that follow the 80, 50 and 15 corridor with Highway 50 being bike route 79, to also be known as the Western Express. Story said an agreement was signed last summer with Utah designating the crossing point as right outside of Baker on the State Route.
Story said they have been having some difficulty coming to agreement with CalTrans. Once a state determines what a route will be, application is made to the Federal Transportation Committee for route numbering. Utah and Arizona got their routes approved last summer.
Story said 278 has been put in as a north/south route but the The Nevada Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board (NBPAB) Committee hasn’t decided if north south routes will be included.
Eureka would see additional bicycle signage throughout the county and specific regional bike tourism guides with the goal being to get cyclists to “spend an extra night” and enhance “opportunities to capture their money.”
Commission Chairman J.J. Goicoechea questioned a proposal to put a bicycle lane through the Town of Eureka which could “take out parallel parking.”
Story said bicycle related work would be generally done in conjunction with other roadway projects.
Goicoechea noted that along Highway 50 the rumble bumps leave bicyclists “nowhere to go other than in the lane of traffic” and avoiding bicyclists “drives everybody right to the middle of the road.”
Story noted that the “number one fatality in the state is lane departures” and noted that “rumble strips cut” the fatality rate “by more than 50 percent” but conceded it’s “definitely not a good thing for bikes and constrains areas” where bikes go. He said if the county accepted the plan then it would go to the State Board which would make a recommendation to the NDOT Director and the plan would become “an appendage to the State Plan.” He said Douglas, Churchill, White Pine and Esmerelda have approved their plans and he was going to Humboldt County on March 17.
Commissioner Etchegaray said he didn’t “know about putting a lane through town.”
Goicoechea said there were “a lot of unanswered questions” and he had “a lot of concerns” and suggesetd sending “a letter with questions we may have” such as why NDOT would propose “putting that bike lane in here.”