November 15, 2011 – This week Salt Lake City installed its first ‘Copenhagen left’ bike turn box for cyclists turning left from Main St. to 200 S. eastbound.
Cyclists wanting to turn left from southbound Main Street to eastbound 200 S. proceed through the intersection with the Main St. green signal, then wait in the bike turn box until the 200 E. light changes. They can then proceed eastbound on 200 S.
The design, known as a “bike turn box” for short, allows bicyclists to make left turns across the TRAX light rail tracks in two traffic signal phases. Bicyclists riding south on Main St. use the 7′ x 10′ box to turn left by riding toward the south side of the intersection, waiting in the green box, and then proceeding on the green light with the traffic on 200 South.
The bike turn box is the City’s first implementation of a design taken from the new Urban Bikeway Design guide put together by U.S. cities interested in promoting innovation in bikeway designs. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and the City’s Transportation Division Director Tim Harpst have endorsed the guide, published by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
“The endorsement represents the City’s intention to continue to consider ‘progressive’ bikeway designs in addition to the more standard engineering manuals,” said Salt Lake City Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator Becka Roolf.
The new design provides bicyclists with a safe and legal left turn across the tracks where it is currently prohibited to automobiles due to the light rail right of way.
The bike turn box was proposed for this location by Tom Millar, an undergraduate student in Urban Planning at the University of Utah and intern with the City’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Program.
“The bike turn box simply makes what is already legal much safer and more visual for bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians,” Millar said. “The design also discourages bicyclists from illegally crossing the tracks.”
Roolf said the bike turn box complements the “green shared lanes” already installed by the City on both Main St. and 200 South.
“The green shared lanes remind everyone that bicyclists have the right to use a full travel lane under Utah state law,” Roolf said. “Bicyclists may use the full lane any time a lane is too narrow for motorists to pass safely.”
Roolf noted that the shared lane design is compatible with downtown streets, particularly on low-volume, low-speed, or multi-lane roads where motorists may use another lane to pass.
The green bike turn box is not delineated with paint, but with a new epoxy product called CycleGrip which is being tested by the City for its durability under winter snow plow conditions. CycleGrip is also being tested on 1700 South and 500 East, where green rectangles highlight shared lanes.
For more information on bicycle programs in Salt Lake City, and to see a newly updated map showing citywide bike routes, go here: www.slcgov.com/bike.