By Charles Pekow
The needs of bicyclists will now have to be considered in all aspects of Utah’s transportation planning. The Utah Department of Transportation officially updated its Active Transportation Policy of 2006 last December to state that it will consider cyclists, pedestrians and others in “improvements in the funding, planning, design, operations, and maintenance of transportation facilities.”
Members of Congress have so far unsuccessfully tried to force states to do this; Utah decided not to wait for a push from Washington.
The policy applies statewide. And it means UDOT will consider the needs of cyclists in everything including “but not limited to work, school, businesses, government facilities, transit, recreation and community centers, health care, and other services that are essential to their livelihood and wellbeing.”
All aspects means right from the start, which means UDOT will factor in any additional costs right from the concept stage.
UDOT pledged to “carefully review and document project features that would be detrimental to active transportation through the project definition document process prior to incorporation into the project.” And UDOT pledged to seek alternate routes if cyclists and pedestrians can’t be included in a project.
“I think it is really a paradigm shift in the way the department does business,” notes UDOT bike/ped coordinator Evelyn Tuddenham. “It makes officials aware that walking and biking are very much a part of transportation. I can already see changes being done. I think it is a very good thing for active transportation.”
Tuddenham explains that “we are just entering our first construction season under the new policy, so the changes that I see are really in the attitudes of our engineers and other staff at UDOT. They are serious about finding ways to implement the new policy and new region bike plans. It will take time for the changes to be fully apparent on the ground.”
UDOT says it will issue further guidelines on how to implement the policy.
For the policy, see https://www.udot.utah.gov/main/uconowner.gf?n=10483007294967763