Around-the-lake bicycle path faces uphill battle

INCLINE VILLAGE -- Chris Hahn's vision of a perfect world includes a bikeway that rings the Tahoe Basin, a sort of Rim Trail you can pedal.

"Biking is a great way to exercise," said Hahn. "And, it's an environmentally sensitive way to commute to work because it cuts down on traffic, and (bikeways) allow access to recreation areas."

But high costs and logistics have thrown roadblocks in the way of Hahn's vision, so the longtime Incline resident has decided to start a grassroots effort to help it along through the Nevada portion of the basin.

Hahn, an avid outdoorsman and a member of the local Citizen Advisory Board, is assembling a volunteer corps to lobby Tahoe, Nevada and federal agencies to fund and support the Lake Tahoe Regional Bikeway and Pedestrian Master Plan, which is the blueprint of the basin's bikeways.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is in the process of collecting public comments on the plan, which should be up for final approval by spring, according to agency spokeswoman Pam Drum.

"We're still collecting comments, but won't be for much longer," Drum said.

The publics' comments are particularly important because they are being used to prioritize bikeway projects, she said.

Hahn would like to concentrate his volunteer group's efforts on the segments in the master plan running from Crystal Bay all the way to Spooner State Park. The sticker price for the 10-plus mile route tops $10 million, in part because much of it would require bikeways be separated from the highway for safety, an option costing $2 million per mile.

The price could be even higher if Hahn is able to convince TRPA to upgrade the Crystal Bay-to-Incline segment from a shoulder path, which costs $40,000 per mile, to a separated bikeway.

"Anyone who's ridden that stretch on a bike knows how dangerous and hairy it can be," he said, adding that moving the path down to the lake or up above the road might be the only way to make this segment safer.

In addition to construction costs, the Tahoe master plan will also have to confront the purchase of private property in some cases. Mark Kimbrough, with Nevada State Parks and the current chairman of the Nevada Bicycle Advisory Board, said one example of this is at the west side of Incline, where private property adjacent to State Route 28 would have to be purchased in order to have enough width for a bike lane.

"That can make it expensive," Kimbrough said. "It might take a champion to make this happen."

Kimbrough said funds for the Tahoe segments as designed have been budgeted in the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Project plan, but there may be a need for more money.

These are not the only bikeways planned for Nevada, Kimbrough said. State Parks is planning to build a hiker and horse-riding trail paralleling the Flume Trail, and hopes to get TRPA approval for it by April.

"Mountain bikers have chased many hikers and equestrians off that path," Kimbrough said, "and we're hoping to draw them back with this parallel trail."

The TRPA master plan is one of four documents that will define the biking vision, goals and objectives in Nevada. According to Eric Glick, a Nevada Department of Transportation staffer who serves as the state bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, Tahoe, together with Washoe and Clark Counties, are responsible for their own bikeway and walkway master plans, while NDOT will cover the rest of the state.

However, said Glick, this means "that if Carson City, for example, wants a bike path in a certain area, then it must be part of its (overall) master plan. "

The final date for comments to the state plan is Wednesday, and Glick said the regions it covers must have their biking needs in their master plans by the time it is finalized.

Hahn realizes he's undertaking a difficult project, but says he's in it for the long haul.

"My big idea is to have a bike path system on the East Shore that's like the one that will be on the West Shore," Hahn said. "We have every bit the same need. All we need now is the funding and the will."


What: State bicycle plan

Deadline to comment: Wednesday

Contact: Chris Hahn e-mail at

Information on state plan: Call Eric Glick 888-7433


State's bicycle Web site:


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