There’s no better way to start National Bike Month in Carson City, as local officials gathered at McFadden Plaza with their sweet rides Tuesday morning for the 2017 Carson City Invitational Celebrity Bike Ride.
With clear skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, local, state, and federal officials, public employees, business owners, and community leaders pedaled from the plaza through the historical Blue Line route, to the west end of town at Governor’s Mansion.
The traditional event is hosted by Carson City’s Muscle Powered, an organization that seeks bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
“This event is a great way for Carson City to define its leadership in bicycling first-hand,” said Board of Director Kelly Clark. “We wanted to improve walkability and bike paths in this town for years and we’ve seen that transform, with the new layout of Carson Street and its increased ridership.”
Celebrity Ride is a nationally recognized celebration of cycling. Among some of the Carson City celebrities were Supervisors Karen Abowd, John Barrette, and Brad Bonkowski, Jennifer Budge of Parks, Recreation & Open Space, Mayor Bob Crowell, City Manager Nick Marano, and community journalist Teri Vance.
Patrick Pittenger, Carson City Public Works transportation manager, also was among the local celebrities participating in the ride. He said Carson City became a bronze-level, bike-friendly community in 2014, determined by the League of American Bicyclists. This ranking is based on the quality of enforcement, education, engineering, and ridership. The highest level a city can reach is diamond status.
According to the The League of American Bicyclists, there’s been a 46 percent increase nationally since 2005 in the share of people commuting by bike. However, for Nevada, between 2005-2013, the increase was closer to 39 percent.
Pittenger said Carson City will reapply to advance to silver-level, and is confident it may have a chance thanks to current construction projects.
“We’ve done so much since Carson Street,” he said. “South Carson’s new freeway project from Highway 50 to 5th Street will have bike lanes and sidewalks. Next year, a linear path from Fremont Elementary School to Colorado Street will be installed.”
To help the effort for an upgrade, Pittenger said the Public Works Department is collaborating with Muscle Powered to create route and trail maps, along with a Bike & Pedestrian coordinating position in the works.
To further support a silver-level or higher, Carson City’s Off-Road Trail was named best mountain bike race in the nation in 2016.
On top of that, Muscle Powered’s own trails coordinator, Jeff Potter, received a national award in 2015 for his effort in building Ash to Kings Canyon trail.
“It puts a great emphasis on the community,” Clark said. “The community gets to see what bicyclists experience in a busy environment and further promotes safety.”
National Bike Month activities are planned for Carson City, including the West Side Cruiser Ride meeting 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brewery Arts Center, and the Tour of Carson City, 9 a.m. May 7 at Fuji Park. National Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 19, where local coffee shops will offer free coffee to bicycle commuters wearing helmets.
For a complete list of Bike Month events, visit musclepowered.org.