Imagine biking in Salt Lake City without fear of autos
A "Bike Boulevard" is coming to Salt Lake City.
Actually, it's already here, for the most part, but it may have gone unrecognized by some residents and commuters.
It's the quiet, leafy 600 East from South Temple to 2700 South that, according to Salt Lake City transportation officials, handles fewer than 1,500 vehicles per day. Typically these thoroughfares are so quiet that designated bike lanes are not necessary.
Still, the transportation department is planning a few changes aimed at making the street safer for cyclists: The speed limit will be reduced from 25 mph to 20 mph; push-button activated signal systems will be installed at 900 South, 1300 South and 2100 South; and push-button activated warning signs will be placed at 800 South and 1700 South.
Still being studied is whether northbound autos will be diverted from 600 East at 2200 South and whether both southbound and northbound cars will be forced into right turns at 300 South.
"No decision has been made on the auto restrictions," said Robin Hutcheson, transportation director. "We are trying to be as smart as we can so we don't create secondary impacts."
The project will cost about $600,000. The city council allocated the money in 2012. Most of it will be spent on signals and signs, Hutcheson said.
Dave Iltis, the editor of "Cycling Utah" (cyclingutah.com), said Bike Boulevards are gaining in popularity across the country because they offer more comfortable routes for cyclists.
"Especially in Salt Lake City, it will help define a corridor where people can get safely from point A to point B," he said.
Among other things, 600 East runs into the east-west S Line trail that parallels the Sugar House Streetcar at about 2200 South. And coming later this summer, the Transportation Department will implement protected bike lanes east and west on 300 South. Bikes will travel between the curb and parked cars from 300 West to a point well beyond 600 East that has yet to be determined.
The routes are part of the Salt Lake City Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan that is now being updated, Hutcheson said.
The city is implementing safer bike routes to get more folks on their two-wheelers to reduce automobile traffic and air pollution, she said. "People are saying, I'd ride a bike if I felt more comfortable on the street."
Liberty Wells resident Lizz Rollins likes the 600 East Bike Boulevard plan.
"Cyclists are taking their lives in their own hands when they are out on the roads," she said. "But 600 East is a beautiful ride. People will be able to go uptown or wherever they want to go without worrying they'll be hit."
But Gordon Gurr, the co-chairman of the Liberty Wells Community Council, which met with transportation officials this spring, said the city should have sought more public input before devising the plan.
"It's more responsible to be communicating with residents before doing something like this," he said. "It's catering to a certain group. Not everybody can jump on a bus or a bike."
City officials next will discuss the plan with the East Liberty Park Community Council on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Tracy Aviary.
P A public meeting on the Bike Boulevard plan will be held at the East Liberty Park Community Council meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at Tracy Aviary.
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