Salt Lake’s Dutch Junction

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.

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Downtown Salt Lake City.  Most major streets here have bicycle accommodations either built in or added.  The grid is pretty well connected, making it somewhat unique among American cities.

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.

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North of North Temple, traditional striped bike lanes are painted on 200 West.  This works well here because there’s very little traffic.

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South of N Temple, the lane becomes protected.  There are cement curbs, planters and parked cars used to offer cyclists protection.

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Approaching 300 South.  Note that cyclists must stop short of the intersection to avoid the crosswalk.  Once clear, they can proceed to the green bike box and wait for the signal to change.

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A view of one of the four bike boxes (one on each corner).  Cyclists wait here for the signal to change.  There’s plenty of room.  Note the barriers separating the bicycle crossing from both motor vehicles and the pedestrian crossing zones.

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Light rail joins S 200 West at W 700 South, limiting space and changing the configuration of the street to a low speed shared lane marked with sharrows.

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.



One thought on “Salt Lake’s Dutch Junction

  1. Pingback: The Bike-Ped Mindset | Bike 5

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