What ‘Really’ Happens Downtown: A Study on Creating Places Stops Progress (Voice)

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October 5 ”What’s new downtownThe Voices article by Alex Stettinski of the Downtown Partnership and Jeff Limpert of the City of Reno on the Urban Place Creation Study in Downtown Virginia Street talks about creating a unified vision on form and the functionality of Virginia Street.

It is a noble cause and there has been incredible progress recently in the area of ​​downtown space creation.


However, the article fails to mention that this study is being used to stop a project born out of a unified vision of the city center, a project which corresponds to the natural evolution of the city center and which would ensure the safety of tourists, locals. families, students and workers downtown.


Essentially, the Placemaking Study is being used to stop a flagship downtown project that embodies the very idea of ​​“placemaking” in Reno.


Imagine people parking in the many garages in the city center, then riding bicycles, wheelchairs, electric scooters and walking safely from university to downtown and to downtown businesses on a path where they are protected from traffic.


The path will never be closed. It is a path where they are not stuck on a tiny sidewalk, looking for space or traveling at high speed, putting their lives in danger.


Imagine the economic dynamism of people with a variety of safe transportation options, moving seamlessly and quickly to many businesses, not just casinos.


It’s a great vision. In fact, this vision is close to reality with the Center Street Multimodal Improvement Project (
read more here). It is a protected path on Center de l’Université street in downtown and downtown which will always remain open.

This means people can avoid a bottleneck on Virginia Street if they choose, or they can choose to head straight for a giant party on Virginia.


The Center Street project that would make all of this possible is well advanced. Planning started in 2019 and is at 30% conception. However, more than a year after planning began, ROW Casinos decided to oppose it (see pages 341-351 of the minutes of the Regional Transport Commission meeting of March 19, 2021 regarding the Plan. regional transport 2050,
accessible here).

Now, The ROW instead offers a bike path on Virginia, right in front of their casinos. The RTC then put the visionary Center Street project on hold, citing this “Placemaking” study.

It’s great that casinos now want a bike path on Virginia Street, and the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance is supporting more bike paths, but not at the expense of well-designed and safe facilities that are already underway.


In fact, the 2017 Downtown Action Plan recommends bicycle and pedestrian facilities on Center and Virginia streets, not either. So let’s do both and why wait?


In a September 7 commentary post posted by This Is Reno (
read it here) titled “What’s the Future of Virginia Street?” Columnist Alicia Barber pointed out that this study of the creation of places will probably take much longer than the six months proposed.

Not only that, reinventing Virginia Street is like starting over with a lot more challenges. The 2013-2014 Virginia Street Corridor Study found that there was no room for protected multimodal facilities on Virginia Street.


So, let’s continue our place creation study that envisions a potential bike path on Virginia, but also continue with the less fanciful and more solidified vision of a safe and protected path on Center Street.


Engineering studies, such as the analysis of alternatives to cycling facilities in the city center of 2019 (
available here), show that Center Street is the best and most viable option.

All parties involved in this new Placemaking study – City of Reno, RTC, The ROW, UNR and Downtown Reno Partnership – must demonstrate their continued commitment to a connected and safer downtown for children, families, tourists, businesses and students as early as possible in supporting the continued progress of the Center Street project.


The Town of Reno is committed to working with the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance on the Place Creation Study and we look forward to continuing to do so.


A collective vision is born with transparency – transparency on projects which respond to a collective vision and are already underway.
We have to find the balance between protecting people and commercial interests because it is a symbiotic relationship. Center Street does this.

Our priority must be to protect people and provide them with safe and uninterrupted multimodal transportation options like Center Street as soon as possible, because without security less people will want to visit the area, and we will all end up missing a downtown more dynamic. .


Finally, let us remember the mission of the RTC Regional Transport Plan 2050: “Planning and building a safe multimodal transport system is the most critical objective of the RTC” (see page 63 of the minutes of the aforementioned meeting,
accessible here).

As a reminder: It is the mission of the RTC to support multimodal projects, not to stop them. Let’s finish building the multimodal project that is close at hand, Rue du Center, and let’s pursue this collective vision of a Downtown Reno at the service of all and all businesses.


The Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance has released a vision for the city center. Read it here: bikewashoe.org/vision-for-downtown.


Ky Plaskon is a resident of Reno and President of the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance.

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