Brother Brigham Young designed Salt Lake City with wide streets in mind that have been a prophetic dream come true for Latter-day motorists and sometimes a nightmare for bicyclists negotiating the wide, intimidating city thoroughfares. Now, Salt Lake City has unveiled a new, safer model for bicycle lanes adjacent to curbs and buffered on the other side by a line of parked cars.
The buffer creates a safer bicycle lane that shields cyclists from traffic thanks to a lane of car-parking spots that so far have been placed along two blocks on 300 East from 600 to 800 South as part of Salt Lake City’s new Cycle Track initiative.
“The road warriors out there are used to operating in traffic, but so many who like to cycle and want to cycle more are aren’t very comfortable getting out in the middle of traffic,” Mayor Ralph Becker said at a Thursday press conference. “This Cycle Track concept removes the bicyclist from that automobile traffic and creates a much safer environment for cyclists.”
The separated bicycle lane (pictured) is also connected to another lane model between 800 and 900 south along 300 East, which includes wider striping on the lane. Both models are new concepts the city is hoping to receive public feedback on and to possibly expand to other parts of the city. The separated lanes have been designed in such a way that during winter time a full-size snowplow could actually plow the lane, though the city would likely use smaller plows, just to be safe.
The pilot program is one the city initiated thanks to funding from REI, which received a grant from Bikes Belong, a national bicycling nonprofit-advocacy organization. The $25,000 grant helped cover the majority of expenses for the pilot lanes, and the city is hoping that feedback on the lanes could help them plan and prioritize expansions of the Cycle Track program throughout the city when planners update the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan in the coming fall.
“National studies have shown that by separating cyclists we improve comfort and safety,” said Salt Lake City Transportation Director Robin Hutcheson. “Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., we are inviting cyclists, drivers and anyone who would like to provide us feedback to join us on the Cycle Track.”
City residents are invited to come down to 300 E. 700 South on Thursday, July 26, from 4-7 p.m. to learn more about the pilot from city staff and provide onsite feedback. Residents who work or live along the Cycle Track are encouraged to attend a neighborhood discussion of the pilot that will include a walking tour of the track next week.
Those residents can meet at 300 E. 700 South on Tuesday, July 31, at 6 p.m. for a walking tour of the lanes followed by a meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty Senior Center, 251 E. 700 South.