I had a chance to visit the new Dutch Junction in Salt Lake City last week and wanted to share my observations. For readers who don’t know, a Dutch Junction is an intersection that features protected bike lanes. Such intersections are popular in Netherlands, thus the name, but not so much so in the United States. The one in Salt Lake City is one of the first to be built here.
Salt Lake’s Dutch Junction is located downtown at the intersection of S 200 West and W 300 South. This is a busy intersection both in terms of automobile and pedestrian traffic. There’s a PF Chang and Buca di Beppo restaurant on two of the corners. The other two contain a seafood restaurant and a three story apartment building.
The Dutch Junction was built here to accommodate protected bike lanes that have been constructed along both streets. Most major streets in downtown Salt Lake City now have some sort of bicycle infrastructure along them. These may be protected or striped lanes or even shared lanes marked with sharrows. Along South 200 West, you’ll see all three variations over ten blocks. This is quite common here and works remarkably well.
Using a Dutch Junction is relatively intuitive, even if you’ve never seen one before. The biggest trick is to recognize that you come to the pedestrian crossing well before the street and before the bike crossing as well. You must yield to pedestrians before proceeding and then yield again for auto traffic. It’s a two step process. If you’re making a right turn, you never enter the street. If you’re proceeding straight or turning left, you’re protected all the way through the intersection.
Not everybody gets it, though. While I was filming, one cyclist went barreling through the intersection against traffic. Unfortunately, this reinforces the perception among some folks that we cyclists are all a bunch of rule breakers. We’re not, of course, but it just makes the battle all that harder to fight.
Data collected here is being studied by city planners and transportation officials. Assuming that all goes well, as it should, look for more Dutch Junctions to be added in Salt Lake City. Where protected bike lanes exist, this is probably the best way to handle street crossings, particularly on wide boulevards like those that are so prevalent in downtown Salt Lake City.