Stewart Street Extension

by Dan Allison – originally published on

Stewart St at the curve, with divided road

The Stewart Street Extension opened in early November (Nevada Appeal article), connecting William Street (Highway 50 East) with Roop St. This project is part of an effort to provide options for getting north-south in Carson City so that Carson Street can be narrowed. The new street segment is divided in some areas (as at right), with right turn only controls going onto or off the street, and part of it is a 3-lane configuration, with two travel lanes and a turn lane (as below).

The new street does not include bicycle lanes. The lanes are wide enough for sharing the lane, which according to the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (“the bike guide”) is 14 feet or more. It does not have share the lane signs.

Stewart St, 3-lane configuation

I’ve ridden on the street a number of times since opening, and I like it. It is much preferable to Roop because it has less traffic and better lane width. The problem of course is that Stewart Street to the south is narrow without lanes or wide lanes, and Roop Street to the north is the same, so it is an isolated segment of bike route.

What do you think? Do you like it or not? Do you feel more or less safe than on a road with striped bicycle lanes? Does it need share the lane signs? [W11-1 and W16-1p] or [R4-11] are the two options.

The classic problem with bicycle lanes is that they accumulate debris as all the vehicle debris (cars parts and items that blow out or drop out, intentionally or unintentionally) and natural debris gets swept into the bike lane by passing cars. Though bike lanes do get street sweeping treatment, it happens less often than any of us would like. Do shared lanes like Stewart St have this problem any less or more than streets with striped bicycle lanes?

As a vehicular cyclist, I (Dan Allison) prefer shared lanes to bicycle lanes. When using a bicycle lane, I have to come out to, or to the left of, the bike lane stripe at every intersection in order to prevent drivers from turning right in front of me or into me. This is the famous “right hook” that accounts for half of all driver-caused crashes. When there is a shared lane, I naturally just move into the center of the lane at every intersection. However, there is a lot of disagreement about this in both Carson City and nationally, with a lot of people preferring painted bicycle lanes. Of course budgets influence what is built, since having a five or six foot bicycle lane often requires a bit more right-of-way for the roadway.

The input of Muscle Powered to Carson City Public Works will influence whether we see more of or less of these shared lane situations in the future, and that is why I’m asking for you opinion. Speak up!

4 thoughts on “Stewart Street Extension

  1. I like the concrete divided section, as there is plenty of room for lane sharing. Plenty of facilities for the walkers. There is still light traffic on this road too. Things change a bit when you get to the section with the turn lane in the middle. You instantly lose your space and cars have to drive down the turn lane to get around you. Fortunately this doesn’t happen often, because like I said, there is light traffic. I don’t think the amount of traffic on this road warrants a turn lane. Two wide lanes would’ve been more useful.

  2. I like the extension for the purposes of easing the bottleneck at Stewart and 50 for auto traffic purposes, but I don’t think it really has bikes in mind at all. I always end up cutting through the Ben’s parking lot, up through the private business parking lot on John street directly North of Ben’s, and then up the sidewalk (big no no) and down on to Stewart. From there you have about a hundred yards or so until the lane breaks into three and the cars have to swerve to avoid. That is the only sketchy part. I don’t feel safe at all from the stretch of road between Park Street and Long Street.

    Southbound Stewart from Pioneer High to the Cracker Box is a blast on a road bike. It’s a fast pass-through but then once you get past 50, it’s a crap game – you against the cars. I stay in the right lane up until Washington Street. Most cars go in the fast lane to avoid me but I lay in to the pedals heavily there and flow with traffic.

    I dunno, the extension of Stewart wasn’t quite what I imagined but it works and it’s not going anywhere so I think we’re going to have to wait and see what happens regardless of what happens.

  3. It’s important to keep in mind that this will become the detour route when construction starts on Roop to widen it to four lanes for those few blocks and it will be closed for months.

  4. Good point! It will be interesting to see what happens during that time. I’ll probably go back to my old route of darting across 50 to the east during construction.

    I’m not sure if you heard, but Patrick Pittenger (city transportation) recently found a tax error. He found that $600,000 had accidentally been sent to Douglas County. The whole Roop Street Project has been on the fence because of questionable funding, but this additional money should enable the project to go forward.

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