In a Complete Street bike lanes and cars can coexist

On street parking separates a bike lane from car traffic along 300 South and 500 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Orange traffic poles help drivers identify parking spots along 300 South.  On street parking separates the bike lane from car traffic along 300 South near 500 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

The project is only partially completed but the new sections of bike lanes along 300 South, between 300 West and 600 East have fast become controversial.

The new protected bike lanes have angered some local business and some of their patrons.  Although the addition of bike lanes usually means less on-street parking, in a modern city that is intentional as streets are no longer just for cars.

The new bike lanes along 300 South differ from what most residents are used to.  In Salt Lake and the surrounding area, bike lanes typically separate on-street parking with traffic.  What makes the new bike lanes unique is that they are protected bike lines as on-street parking serves as a buffer between bike and car traffic.

Cycling is an increasingly popular mode of transportation in Salt Lake City.   The GREENbike bike share program, for example, recently doubled the amount of bike stations from 10 to 20 and nearly tripled the amount of active bikes available from 55 to 160 to accommodate the increased demand.

Protected bike lanes are the norm in many European Cities and are slowly gaining popularity in the U.S. because they make cycling safer by separating cyclists from drivers through on-street parking or other types of buffers.

Salt Lake City is progressively making the city more accommodating to multiple modes of transportation.  In 2010, the Salt Lake City council passed the Complete Streets Ordinance which requires most new construction and reconstruction to include bike and pedestrian access.  A complete street is a street that accommodates pedestrian, bike, public transit and car traffic.

Orange traffic poles have been placed along 300 South to help drivers identify available parking.  As this type of protected bike lane is new to the city, some push-back is expected.  But limiting parking downtown encourages the use of other modes of transit like buses, light rail, pedestrian and bike.

The final segments of the protected bike lanes along 300 South should be finished by October.  Similar improvements are planned for  downtown sections of 200 West.   Protected bike lanes will be installed along 200 West from North Temple to 900 South which will connect to a buffered bike lane that extends to the 9 Line Trail,  a bike trail built along an abandoned rail corridor from 700 West to Redwood Road at 900 South.

On street parking separates a bike lane from car traffic along 300 South near 600 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
On street parking separates a bike lane from car traffic along 300 South near 600 East. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

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Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at isaac@buildingsaltlake.com.