Editorial: Salt Lake City is on a Roll – Why Cyclists Should Vote for Becker in the Upcoming 2015 Salt Lake City Mayoral Election
By Dave Iltis • Editor • Cycling Utah
If you are a cyclist and you live in Salt Lake City, the choice in the 2015 mayoral election is crystal clear – Ralph Becker. Becker is a local and national leader in bringing bicycle infrastructure and programs to Salt Lake City. Since taking office, the budget for bicycle related improvements has gone from $50,000 to $4,000,000 per year. The number of staff members working on bicycle issues in the Transportation Division has gone from one person to having bicycling be part of each job in the Transportation Division.
Election Information: The election is being conducted now as a vote-by-mail election. Ballots need to be postmarked by November 2, 2015. Voting can still be done in person on November 3, 2015 in a few locations. (Voting Information: https://slco.org/clerk/elections/ )
Over the last 30 years, bicycle infrastructure has increased at a slow and steady rate until 8 years ago when Becker took office.
Since taking office, under Becker’s leadership Salt Lake City has instituted a large number of bike friendly policies including:
- Greenbike Bike Share – The most successful mid-size bike share system in the US. (http://greenbike.com )
- A Complete Streets Ordinance – All streets in Salt Lake City must consider all modes of travel when they are reconstructed. This helps to ensure better biking and walking throughout the city. (Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in the city's new construction and reconstruction projects in the public right of way,… source: http://www.bikeslc.com/GetInvolved/MasterPlansandPolicies/PDF/CompleteStreetsOrdinance.pdf )
- Hired a dedicated Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator
- A brand new network of protected bike lanes. Protected bike lanes will help to radically transform the number and type of cyclists that ride and to create a more liveable city. The protected bike lane on 300 S has led to a 30% increase in the number of cyclists using the street, as well as changes in the types of cyclists using the street – more casual and family cyclists are riding. Additionally, business is up on 300 S. This mirrors the success of businesses located on bike routes in other cities. Despite what some reports have implied, the majority of businesses on the street are supportive of the new configuration (59% – source http://www.slcdocs.com/transportation/Project/300South/300SouthProgressReport.pdf )
- A brand new protected bike lane on 200 W completes the initial backbone of protected lanes in downtown Salt Lake City. A full network is planned, and has the potential to revolutionize bike travel downtown. (http://www.slcgov.com/200West )
- A brand new protected intersection at 300 S and 200 W. The new intersection is bike and pedestrian friendly design at its finest, and is one of the first two such intersections in the US. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCNJPOYg8G4&feature=youtu.be )
- A Silver Bike Friendly Community Award in 2010. Salt Lake has made strides towards Gold status since then, and will certainly apply again in the near future. (http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/road-advocacy/league-of-american-bicyclists-awards-salt-lake-city-silver-status-as-a-bike-friendly-community/ )
- Host to several stages of the internationally famous Tour of Utah bike race.
- Increased miles of bike pathways including the 9-line and the Sugarhouse Streetcar pathway.
- An almost complete Bicycle Boulevard on 600 E.
- Bike Safety programs in progress.
- A new Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (in progress) that will have over 220 miles of bike facilities when complete. (http://walkbikeslc.com/ )
- A proposed recreation bond (which was unfortunately defeated by the City Council) that would potentially add 30 miles of mountain bike trails in the foothills. (http://ouroutdoorsslc.com/ )
- Large increase in the amount of bike lanes.
Becker not only has pushed these initiatives forward, but consistently commutes through town on his bike, and rides for recreation. He has a clear grasp of the issues and planning: (See this article for the candidates responses to Cycling Utah’s survey http://www.cyclingutah.com/news/cycling-utahs-salt-lake-city-2015-mayoral-election-candidate-survey/ )
Becker also has a strong record on the environment. He was the architect of the Mountain Accord planning process, which is moving forward to consensus in our beloved Wasatch Mountains. The Accord also contains key pieces on road cycling and mountain bike trails. It is crucial the Becker be re-elected for this process to continue.
It is also crucial for cyclists to that Becker be re-elected to maintain and increase the momentum Salt Lake City has towards becoming a great cycling city.
He is a biking mayor. He deserves your vote in the upcoming election and third term for cycling.
For more information on where and how to vote, see: https://slco.org/clerk/elections/