Advocacy Alert: Comments on Salt Lake City’s Street & Intersection Typologies Design Guide Due Nov. 30, 2021

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Salt Lake City invites the public to review final draft of the Street & Intersection Typologies Design Guide

Salt Lake City is seeking more voices from all neighborhoods as part of the final public review period for the Street & Intersection Typologies Design Guide. This opportunity is open now through November 30, 2021.

The bike lanes on 600 N have a huge gap between about 600 West and 400 W. Photo by Dave Iltis

The Design Guide refocuses the design of streets on people. Smaller, safer, and slower streets are better for everyone. The new and revised materials for review include: 17 street typology designs, nine intersection typologies, a typology assignment street map, and the Design Guide itself. All materials are available in English and Spanish, at www.slc.gov/transportation/typologies or www.slc.gov/transportation/tipologias.

“Streets are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods, and we need everyone’s voice included in how we design them,” said Tom Millar, the Typologies Design Guide’s project manager with the City’s Transportation Division. “Street design affects all of our behaviors and decisions — how safe we feel; where we choose to or can live; how we get around; how easy it is to get to the doctor; whether our kids walk or bike to school; and our physical, environmental, and economic health. Great streets are designed for everyone, and shaping great streets is fundamental to shaping great livable cities.”

Based on more than 5,000 previous public comments, people in Salt Lake City, regardless of their background, ethnicity, or current transportation habits, have indicated that they want streets that prioritize people­ by design: safer, more comfortable, more human-scale streets. Now, the project team is seeking final feedback on how best to achieve those goals. In particular, the City is seeking feedback from more residents of the City’s west side.

The new design guidance is not intended to trigger imminent, citywide construction changes. This project simply creates a new set of visual design ideas for planners, engineers, decisionmakers, and the public to consider when and if a street or intersection is set to be redesigned or reconstructed. Additional public input and data collection will continue to form the core of individual project processes.

To view materials and provide your feedback, visit www.slc.gov/transportation/typologies or www.slc.gov/transportation/tipologias.

Step 1: View the 17 revised street designs

Step 2: Look up your streets and provide comments in the map

Step 3: Read the Design Guide, including new intersection typologies

Step 4: Take the online survey

Following this final public review period, comments will be reviewed and, as appropriate, incorporated into the final first edition of the Street & Intersection Typologies Design Guide. Future editions will be necessary, based on changes in zoning, development patterns, and transportation trends and goals. The Design Guide will be used to assist planners, designers, the public, and their representatives to better imagine, design, adjust, and maintain streets for all people of all ages and all abilities.

Cycling Utah's Analysis and Comments:

There’s a lot to unpack in this in depth guide. Overall, it is really good. I think that the plan has the potential to transform SLC to a more people friendly city and not a car city, which it is now. 
 
But, we have some reservations on particular items and recommendations for changes.
 

Lane width and median width: This is perhaps the most disappointing part of the guide. There are very few 10’ lane street typologies – most are 11’ and some are 12’. And medians/center tun lanes that are too wide too. How can you proceed with this guide and the goal of traffic calming and safer streets and maintain 11-12’ lanes as the standard? This is a contradiction in goals. Even the 10’ lane streets could be reduced to 8’ lanes. SLC needs a standard lane width of 10’ not 11 or 12. This adherence to wide lanes will only perpetuate the unsafe walking and cycling conditions in the city, and will cause the plan itself to fail. When separated bike lanes are not possible, this will result in fewer bike lanes because of unneeded width for car lanes. And higher speeds which means that the streets will be less safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists – and less safe for SLC.

 
Bicycles on Streets: Regarding the types of bikeways in the guide, for transportation cycling, type 1 and type 2 are great. But, for recreational cycling, type one can be very limiting, and sometimes dangerous for cyclists at intersections, driveways etc (no, this is not a vehicular cycling argument in case you were worried about that). Recreational trips are approximately 50% of all trips on bikes, and as such, the needs of higher speed cyclists and average recreational cyclists (15-25 mph), must be considered too. This is problematic on type 1 routes if they are designed or implemented poorly. Additionally, explicitly adding recreational bike streets or routes would be great. Separated bikeways are great – please build more of them. But, on street cycling must be considered too, especially on busier streets.
Parking protected bike lanes seem to be missing from the guide and mostly just Type 1 lanes are mentioned. Parking protected bike lanes are an inexpensive way to jump start better protection for cyclists and should be included. Additionally, type 1 and 2 lanes are not defined in the guide – this would help the average person to make sense of this.
Regarding bus only lanes, please consider some of these as bus/bike lanes where appropriate (such as on N. Temple).
 
Electric bikes and micromobility: Ebikes will result in higher average speeds for cyclists and this must be taken in to account with the type of bike lanes on each street, and safety for cyclists on street and not just on type 1 protected bike lanes. Also, taking into account the needs of other micromobility such as scooters, mopeds, skateboards, etc. is important.
 
Traffic Calming: One thing mostly missing from the guide is traffic calming – there should be mention of this, especially with the liveable streets program going on now too. What about traffic diverters? And speed bumps? How for example are you going to get a design speed of 15 mph on 4th Ave without speed bumps and traffic diverters? There’s only one mention of raised crosswalks, and only on local streets. This is not enough.
 
Intersections: Please include an item that states ‘minimize the use of pedestrian actuation buttons’ and only use them when necessary. They are overused (even on SLC’s trend setting protected intersection) and don’t work well. They encourage people to walk against the light since no one wants to wait for an illogical button actuation. Pedestrian countdown timers are only useful if they match the signal lights. Otherwise, they are useless. Additionally, with the intersection recommendations, please consider whether these will encourage pedestrians to walk against the light, and how will that effect insurance issues if a pedestrian or cyclist is hit by a motorist. Insurance issues are rarely considered in planning, but if one is injured, they are by far the most important thing after personal health.
Also, on bulbouts/curb extensions – please only use these where they will not be a danger to cyclists.
Please consider raised crosswalks on more than just local streets. They need to be on collectors and other streets too to slow traffic.
Please add in Green Waves for cyclists in traffic signal timing. 
 
Climate Change and sustainability: In Utah, transportation is responsible for 31% of our CO2 emissions. The guide needs a section on reduction in impacts to the climate in the Performance Measures section – including a reduction in vehicle miles traveled. This should be a major goal of the Typologies Guide and not just a cursory mention in the LOS section. How does this guide fit in with the goals of SLC Green? Sustainability? Carbon Neutrality?
SLC seems to have a large blindspot when it comes to the impacts of transportation and global warming. We do great with sustainable electricity generation, but transportation is an afterthought. 
 
Complete Streets Ordinance and Following the Guide: Also, I fear that SLC Transportation and Engineering will ignore the Typologies guide, just like they did in ignoring the Complete Streets Ordinance on 100 S. A document like this has the potential to be transformational, but so was the 2010 Complete Streets Ordinance. Yet the Complete Streets Committee threw logic and healthy streets out the window in their illegal vote on this. It’s ironic that the guide has language about improving the ordinance when it was recently disregarded on 100 S. The memorandum on improving the CSO could have succinctly been restated as ‘follow the ordinance’ and would have more effect than any in depth analysis of improvements.
So, if this is going to be used for a rewrite of the Complete Streets Ordinance, what’s to keep the administration now and in the future (as the past 3 have done), from ignoring this too? 
 
UDOT: UDOT is the elephant in the room. To fully implement these ideas on UDOT streets in SLC will require in depth conversation between Mayor Mendenhall and UDOT Director Carlos Braceras. For too long, UDOT streets in SLC have been unsafe, and UDOT exerts undo influence on keeping them that way. Examples include the ridiculously wide center turn lane on 1300 E and the lack of bike lanes on State Street. Mayor Mendenhall needs to initiate these conversations or SLC streets will remain unsafe for years to come. 
 
Parklets and Streetside Dining: These have become much more important since the start of the pandemic but get scant mention in the guide. The guide needs a paragraph on them.
 
20 MPH Default Speed Limit: Implicit in the guide is the shift towards lower speed limits. Please make this explicit with the recommendation to go to a 20 mph default limit on city streets where not otherwise marked. This is relevant to most street typologies in the guide, and does have a place here.
 
 
Guide Organization: The organization of the 17 types needs to be better in the guide. It makes it really hard to digest what is going on with no hierarchy in how the guide is laid out.
How about?
Grand Boulevards
Destination Streets
Urban Streets
Industrial Streets
Neighborhood Streets
 
While I’m aware that the categories blend together, for someone who isn’t super familiar with the guide, it needs to be broken down into to 5 major street types with subtypes for each one so that it’s more readable.
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