By Marcus Kaller — With spring just around the corner, people will be back on their bikes to enjoy the warm weather. Many, of course, for recreational purposes, but many for commuting to work as well. And for many, the issue of where you can ride can be frustrating, especially in some parts of Salt Lake County. While some cities have implemented active transportation plans, such as Salt Lake City, there are other cities that have little to no infrastructure for cyclists to ride on.
Two years, SLCBAC and the Salt Lake County Office of Planning and Transportation held several open house meetings in several cities, within the county, to gather public opinion on which roads should serve as bike routes. Through a combination of public feedback and stakeholder meetings, the county enacted an active transportation implementation plan (ATIP). Then last year, through a collaboration of the governments of both Salt Lake County and Salt Lake City, a bike map covering the entire county was printed, using the routes from ATIP as a basis. Each route is either an existing bike route, or one recommended by public input. It is the goal creating a countywide network of bike paths, and making the recommended routes into existing routes.
There are obstacles with this goal. One, especially in cities with little to no bike infrastructure, are city officials. Many have said, with anticipated population growth in coming years, that roads should only be for car traffic, with no accommodation for bikes. And there is still a good size of the populace who do not ride bikes because they cannot get to destinations on time, or they don’t know about bike maintenance, or it doesn’t suit their lifestyle.
However, there are numerous studies that extoll the benefits of riding bikes. For one thing, riding a bike is excellent for exercise, creating healthy habits and lowering health care costs. Also, bikes are much cheaper to buy and maintain than a car, thus more people have access to them. And with bike lanes, people would be able to reach for opportunities, be it economical or recreational. And with more people biking, it would help reducing air pollution as well.
As part of the biking community, we should reach out to people, ask them why they don’t ride and encourage them to get one and ride in their neighborhoods. Another method would be to use Strava. People are using this app to record their routes, and policy makers would like to use this data to determine routes that people use and how many. Finally, we should reach out to city officials, but not limit contact to mayors and council members. We should also contact city planners, transportation managers, and public works engineers. Talk to them about active transportation, attend planning commission meetings, and build working relations in sharing thoughts and means of implementing bike lanes.
That’s all for now. Let’s get to work.
SLCBAC meetings are open to the public and held on the second Wednesday of each month at the Salt Lake County Government Center at 2001 S. State Street, Salt Lake City in room N2-800 at 5:30pm. For more information, visit http://slco.org/bicycle/