Highway 50 Bike Path Obstructions

It’s quite evident to today’s cyclist that our transportation system is designed with the automobile driver in mind. Millions have been spent on roads, highways and other infrastucture for the motorist, but very little in comparison for people that prefer or need to travel under their own power. Bicycle advocates often have to work hard just to get basic transportation infrastructure that is safe and gets people where they need to go. Because we often get so little, it’s frustrating when it’s taken away from us from a group that already has way more than its fair share.

HWY 50 Bike Path

Carson City has long had bike paths along Highway 50, leaving Carson City to the east. These bike paths are the primary way to travel by bike when heading east or west, to and from Carson City. They provide a safe area to ride that separates the cyclist from 50mph traffic, and connect neighborhoods, schools, parks, and shopping. In addition to the cyclists of all ages that use these paths, walkers and disabled citizens also rely on this route.

HWY 50 Bike Path

People have recently come to me with complaints of businesses and customers along Highway 50 using the bike paths as parking. When a car is parked in the path, often for no good reason, since there is usually alternative parking, the path user is forced off into the dirt, gravel, or mud. And depending on the weather or what bike your riding, it can be no easy task to navigate this terrain. At the very least, extremely inconvenient. For the person in a wheelchair, it may be impossible to get around a car on the path.

Blocking the Bike Path

The city has been receptive to complaints from users of the bike route, and has even taken steps to provide better signage along the path, even reminding motorists that there is a fine for misuse. I rode down the paths recently to see the situation for myself, and it didn’t take long before my way was blocked by a parked car. The car was even parked under one of the new signs that the city just installed. And once again this weekend, I had to navigate around another parked car, riding through the mud to do so.

Blocking the Bike Path

I believe there is some education that needs to take place for people to better understand what they’re doing wrong. It seems to be understood that we don’t park our cars in red zones, in front of fire hydrants, or in reserved parking spaces, but for some reason it seems acceptable to block a bike path. From what I’ve heard, some businesses are even angry that they’ve been told the bike lanes aren’t for parking, and said they’d fight it if further measures were taken. It’s hard to understand this though, as there is often a dirt shoulder to park on right next to the bike path. There seems to be room to accommodate everyone.

Blocking the Bike Path

This story is still unfolding, so it’s anyone’s guess how it will progress; however, as fuel prices and unemployment continue to rise, we will certainly see an increased use of alternative transportation like biking and walking. And we mustn’t forget our friends in wheelchairs that simply have no other method of getting around than these paths. I’d like to give people the benefit of the doubt, and assume they don’t know the trouble they’re causing by obstructing the paths.

Blocking the Bike Path

A couple of the photos above are mine, and others were sent to me by Carson City residents. Have you had problems with cars blocking bike paths in Carson City? Let me know, and please send me photos if you have them. What do you think would be the best way to educate these motorists?

You can contact me at: jeffmoser@musclepowered.org

13 thoughts on “Highway 50 Bike Path Obstructions

  1. Unfortunately, I have experienced this and believe that the only true way to get people to understand is to hit them where it hurts most, the pocket book. For those businesses that have people parking on the paths in front of them, not only should the owner of the vehicle be fined but the business as well. If we, as a state, are talking about enacting a bill where motorists are fined for talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device to the tune of $250 for the first offense, then why can we not make considerable measure taken to ensure that safety of those riding bikes. However, the sad part is that we would have to have a law enforcement agency that would back us on this and fine these people on a regular and consistent basis, but I truly doubt this would happen.

  2. Maybe post(s) in the middle of the trail with a “No Parking” sign in the areas that get more vehicles on the path would help. I like the post in the middle of Kings street that alert drivers to the crosswalks and the law. I don’t know how effective they are but I think it was a great idea. I don’t think with the current economy we can count on the police having time to work on this, unfortunately. I ride Highway 50 somewhat and the 3 problem areas I know of are the ones you have in the pictures. A few post in the middle of the trail could help?

  3. Bollards blocking auto access to the bike path are an option, but city operations staff are opposed to bollards that could affect their maintenance and plowing efforts. It sounds like their few employees that are dedicated to code enforcement are stretched pretty thin too.

    Code enforcement with actual teeth seems like it could help. Maybe we need to let them know that it is a priority. Keeping a good photo record is a good idea too…a hall of shame.

  4. There is a similar path on Sun Valley Blvd. north of Reno, NDOT painted bike symbols all along it, also, since the code enforcement people are stretched thin, how about if the local cyclist keep on taking pictures especially of the lisence plates and keep sending them into the othorities so They see how much of a problem it is, and since they have photo evidence they can issue tickets.

  5. I would like to just go into the business and ask them to clear the path. Is this mostly the stretch from saliman down towards moundhouse?

  6. The more serious danger on this path is the vehicle traffic that crosses it all the time, in and out of these businesses; drivers don’t look for pedestrians or cyclists. The only way I felt safe using it was at a very slow speed, and I did feel much more secure and safer riding on the highway instead of the path. I like the design you advocated on Roop much better; wider streets, and keep a lane to the right of traffic. When people are used to seeing riders there, they will look for them. As a sidewalk, however, the bike path on 50 is way better, because it is set off from the travel lane. Walkers can pay better attention to the driveways, and I like not having the sidewalk on the curb next to the travel lane.

    1. I think this a problem with many bike paths in general…lots of cross traffic from driveways. There are some that do prefer being part of traffic, arguing that it is safer for these very reasons; however, I think I’d rather have my kid take his chances on the path. Probably need both.

  7. Only 25 bucks for a violation? Petition the city remove the decimal from that and put a little “up to” sticker on it. Revenue generation. That whole route has parking in the dirt all the way down it anyway they don’t need to use it. The “liquidators” buisness in the top picture has their whole parking lot full of crap and uses the Bike lane as their loading dock.

      1. Yeah, my wife’s salon is on Curry street and Washington and the “chalk natzi” is always out. Many of her clients, and clients of the salon, will brave the 2hr parking time limit on the street for the $25 ticket. They consider it part of the service they are getting at the salon.

        Like I said before, up that fine a little bit and you will see people start paying more attention. I mean if we are going to enact a law for cellphones that starts at $250 for the first offense, I am definitely paying attention to when I am driving and talking.

  8. Good point about the cars crossing the path getting in and out of businesses and not watching for bikes or pedestrians. What is the law on who has the right of way in this case? A couple of years ago it was in the Nevada Appeal that the people on the path were to yield to the cars according to the article, but I think pedestrians have the right of way but I don’t know about bike riders.
    Also, I don’t know if the law allows people to take pictures of people’s license plates out in the community without infringing on their rights?

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