cycling utah Oct/Nov. 2000
By Chris Quann
Sigh! Another summer has come and gone. The leaves are turning and the days are getting shorter. What's a cyclist to do? I'd like to suggest things you can do this winter to make the world (and Utah specifically) a better place to ride.
First, allow me to deputize you as a bicycle advocate. Place your right hand over your chest and repeat after me:
I pledge allegiance to my bike, and to the riding that gives me pleasure
And to the freedom and fitness for which it stands,
One vehicle, sharing the road, with liberty and justice for all.
Congratulations, you are now a bicycle advocate! Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spread the bicycle gospel. Here's one way: If you take two friends riding, and they take two friends riding, and so on, and so on, then soon everyone will be riding! We bicycle advocates believe a world where everyone rides is a better world.
Alas, there are obstacles to creating this better world. There are laws that need to be fixed, roads that need to be improved, and minds that must be changed. We bicycle advocates are just the people to do it. Here's how:
Laws that need to be fixed
Did you know that Utah has a Mandatory Sidepath Law? This law dictates that if a path usable for bicyclists exists adjacent to a roadway, bicyclists MUST use the path and not the roadway. Though prevalent at one time, all but six states have repealed mandatory sidepath laws. Utah is one of six (backward) states that still have it. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be forced onto a "usable" path just because it's there.
Who decides what "usable for bicyclists" means, anyway?
This summer, bicycle advocates, headed by Bob Bayn of Logan, lobbied the Interim Transportation Committee of the Utah State Legislature to make changes to several laws governing the operation of bicycles. Eliminating the mandatory sidepath law is one of them. Other proposed changes would allow cyclists to use flashing rear lights (currently illegal), and to signal right turns by extending the right hand (only signals using the left hand are currently legal).
One modification that did not make it through the Interim Committee is to allow bicycles to yield at stop signs. This change would make legal what most of us typically do: We check for cars at the intersection and, if there are none, we roll through. If there are cars at the intersection, we slow or stop for vehicles that have the right of way. Simple, right?
We need your help to legalize what is essentially the status quo. Please write to your State Senator and/or Representative and tell them that you are for changing the bicycle laws, including Bikes Yield at Stop Signs.
The champion of these changes thus far has been Rep. Marda Dillree of Davis County, who testified that she also rolls through stop signs if the intersection is clear! Please copy your letter to her:
Rep. Marda Dillree
379 Shepard Ridge Rd.
Farmington, Utah 84025
Or call her at 560-4455
Roads need to be improved
The other day I was riding to Saltair along 2100 South and noticed UDOT has milled in continuous rumble strip just to the right of the edge line. As a cyclist, I hate rumble strips with a passion. I do, however, recognize their use in waking drivers who wander off the road.
The problem is that continuous rumble strips are hazards to bicycles, especially when thoughtlessly installed. Look at the rumble strip on 2100 So. at 7200 West, which continues even as the shoulder narrows down to one-foot-wide at the right turn lane. A cyclist is either forced to the extreme right edge of the pavement or must thrash across the rumble strip at the risk of losing control of the bike, not to mention great discomfort to the perineal region.
The reason UDOT places continuous rumble strips along roads is that the people who design roads don't have a clue about how rumble strips affect bike handling. This winter, we need to instruct UDOT how their designs create hazards for cyclists. It is my hope to change the rumble strip standard to an intermittent design that allows bicycles to cross while still alerting drivers who may drift off.
If you agree, please communicate your ideas to:
Utah Dept. of Transportation
4501 South 2700 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119
Federal Highway Adm.
2520 W. 4700 South, Ste 9A
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119 Phone 963-0078 ext. 227
Minds need to be changed
When I ask non-cyclists why they don't ride their bicycles, the most common reason is, they are afraid of traffic. As bicycle advocates, we owe it to them to help them through their fears. Take someone cycling who has not ridden in years.
Find three new bike-friendly routes from your home to your work; if you cannot find three, ask your local mayor why not?
Lastly, ride through the winter! Be sure you have a good light and at least one really BRIGHT colored jacket for winter riding.
See you in the spring!
Editor's Note: Chris Quann is the Chair of the Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee. The MBAC meets on the second Wednes-day of every month in the Salt Lake City/County Building, 451 S. State St., room 326 or 335, 5 p.m. All are welcome.