By Keith Bateman
During Murray’s mayoral elections in 2013, I began talking with candidates, city council members and other city officials about their stand concerning developing bike lanes in the city. Virtually everyone gave lip service at least to promoting safe biking in Murray. Recent history, however, has indicated otherwise and it became clear that bike lanes were really not on anyone’s radar.
For example, a recent redevelopment/repaving of 4800 South started with a survey of area residents, asking if they wanted bike lanes. Survey results were positive for bike lanes, but when it came down to it, the people that actually lived on 4800 South were adamantly opposed to losing their on-street parking. The compromise was a few signs designating 4800 South as a Bike Route with no bike lanes.
Another more recent example was a major overhaul of 5900 South. When city officials were asked if they should pursue bike lanes for this redevelopment/repaving project, they evidently did not even go through the same process as they had done for 4800 South and left out any plans for any type of bike lanes.
One last example of the lack of a blip on the bike lanes radar was the total lack of action taken over the past 11 years that have passed since an overly ambitious bike lane and path plan was officially incorporated into the city’s 2003 Master Plan. This plan included dedicated paths along both Little and Big Cottonwood Creeks and bike lanes along 4800 South, 5900 South, 700 West, 5600 South, 900 East, 1300 East and 6400 South/Winchester. (for complete details of the 2003 plan go to http://www.murray.utah.gov/documentcenter/view/112).
Over the past several months a growing group of Murray residents and bicycle enthusiasts have been working with Murray City officials to promote a safe and friendly biking environment in the city through the implementation of designated bike lanes and routes. The group, called Cycle Murray, has also been consulting with several local, regional and state active transportation organizations to determine the most important routes in and through Murray City limits.
To learn more about the various resources available and how to more effectively advocate for bike lanes, Cycle Murray participated in the statewide Bike Summit and the more recent Active Transportation Summit. Through these and other outreach efforts, Cycle Murray has found great allies and supporters in Bike Utah; Salt Lake County; UDOT; UTA; SLCBAC; Rivers, Trails And Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA); the Wasatch Front Regional Council; Cycling Utah Magazine and other government and private organizations. All of these organizations have been very helpful providing advice, contacts and most importantly their time.
These efforts are starting to have an effect and paying dividends. On May 6, Doug Hill, Murray City’s Public Services Director, gave a 45-minute presentation on bike lanes to the Murray City Council, newly elected Mayor Ted Eyre and other city officials. Since the May presentation, the Council has appointed an official Bike Task Force to focus on bike lanes and bike safety. It will meet for the first time on Wednesday, 27 August. Additionally, Mr. Hill has worked with UTA and Salt Lake County to obtain funding for two key projects which should be implemented this year. These projects include painting bike lanes on Vine Street from the IMC Hospital, 5300 South TRAX and Front Runner stations east to 900 East and from the TRAX station on 6400 South/Winchester west to 1300 West.
Advocacy takes a lot of time, dedication and persistence to be effective. While cycling is growing rapidly in Utah, along the Wasatch Front, and as outlined above, there are lots of government and other organizations promoting and supporting the big picture of bike lanes, bike paths, etc. It is critical for cyclists to become active in their local communities and ensure their local officials begin to focus on the safety, health and economic benefits of cycling. Cycle Murray and the new Murray City Bike Task Force have years of work ahead of them. Our goal is to nurture Murray from a blip on the radar screen to becoming an innovative leader in developing and promoting biking.
Keith Bateman is a long term Murray-ite, Founder of Cycle Murray with his wife Kate Sturgeon, and a member of the newly formed Bike Task Force. Cycle Murray is an informal group of citizens dedicated to promoting a safe and friendly biking environment in Murray through the development of biking facilities including bike lanes, paths and parking. You can find more information about Cycle Murray at their Facebook page.