I've written and documented about the ongoing homelessness problem along the Tahoe/Pyramid bikeway along the Truckee River for years. It is a regular part of my bike commute home from work as it provides a good east/west corridor that avoids traffic. And in the best of times it is a pretty ride along the river. But that was then and this is now...the encampments and drug deals and roaming bullwhip toting residents can make for a harrowing ride and what should be a fantastic feature of the Reno/Sparks community has become a dangerous, unsanitary, drug community.
I have tons of empathy as I can see the human suffering that is going on here and the economy and conditions and societal circumstances have pushed so many people to live along the river, close to flowing water and a variety of services for the homeless. And I've witnessed first hand how the Reno and Sparks cities basically ping pong the encampments week to week, or month to month, between their respective jurisdictions.
So what is to be made of the choice to close a section of the Tahoe/Pyramid Bikeway along the river and essentially concentrate the homeless population in a specific area while keeping this pedestrian and cycling recreational path off limits? It reminds me of the episode in the greatest of television programs, The Wire, called "Hamsterdam" where a police chief makes a choice to concentrate the drug dealers into a few block section of his precinct in order to keep the rest of his jurisdiction clear of trafficking. Those few blocks come to be known as "Hamsterdam" and eventual it becomes clear that he has essentially legalized drugs for this one section of the community...for the betterment of the rest of the neighborhoods because now kids and families feel safe and are taking back their community. Meanwhile..."Hamsterdam" eventually descends into an infernoesque hellhole.
Having witnessed drug deals, fights, weapons, sanitation issues, and public lewdness, along the river, is this the inevitable end of closing this recreational path between Reno and Sparks? I've attached a video of my last ride through the Reno/Sparks "Hamsterdam." It may very well be my final ride along the path because even for me, it now feels too unsafe. What is the City up to with this closure?
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.