They wore silver racing shoes and black leather boots, sneakers and ballet flats, but all of them were there for one purpose: to ride. Several dozen bike lovers took to the streets Saturday morning on a tour of Salt Lake City’s newest bike lanes and innovations as city officials showed off their latest progress.
By winter’s start, about 50 miles of new and improved lanes will have been added to the capital this year, along with bike parking corrals and more bike symbols to help both motorists and cyclists stay safe. Salt Lake City may not be quite as bike-friendly as a city like Portland, Ore. — yet — but the mayor’s office is working on it.
“I’m competing with the cars — you ever feel like that?” said Becka Roolf, the city bicycle-pedestrian coordinator, smiling as the group prepared to begin the tour from Liberty Park.
Officials believe the city’s number of bike commuters may be on the rise and are in the midst of an bike count through volunteer observation, with results expected in the coming weeks. Many of Saturday’s participants said they used their bikes to ride to work, to go to dinner and meet friends. And at a time when money is short, biking saves money on gas.
Amy Brunvand, 50, bikes about four miles to work at the University of Utah each day. The librarian appreciates the exercise and that biking makes it easier to interact with the world around her.
“You can hear birds on a bike,” she said.
But knowing which city streets to ride on can be confusing and some cyclists came Saturday to learn about the new bikeways.
“I want to know where cars expect me to be,” said Jim Hopkin, 51, who bikes almost every night after work.
Riding on the streets can be daunting, some riders agreed. The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, which had members on Saturday’s ride, offers classes on bike commuting for those intimidated by traffic or anyone looking to increase their skills.
Shared lane markings have been popping up around the city to indicate that drivers and cyclists share the lane even though there is no separate bike lane. The symbols are expected to appear soon on 800 East, 500 East and South Temple. The public is welcome to give the mayor’s office feedback on these and other bike designs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin Cuma and his wife Shelly Roalstad, sitting on their blue tandem bike, said that despite Salt Lake’s improvements, the city still has a ways to go.
“It’s not so much the bike lanes, it’s driver awareness,” Roalstad said, noting that the couple often gets cut off in traffic.
Cuma would like to see the city become as bike-oriented as a place like Amsterdam or Vienna. Then everyone might appreciate Utah’s biggest city from the other side of the handlebars.
From Salt Lake Tribune