Not long ago, I posted a series of articles that laid out the top priorities of bicycle advocates around the country. Number one on the list was connected networks. Those of us who ride a lot know that protected bike lanes and grade separated infrastructure are popping up all over the place. This is good. What’s not so good is most of this infrastructure is developed in sections and very little of it is truly connected so that people can take complete trips without having to mix it up with cars and trucks.
One such example of a “missing link” is along 4400 South between Riverdale and Roy Utah. As the map above shows, both communities have on street bike lanes leading up to Interstates 84 and 15. Once you reach the interstates, you’re required to ride in traffic lanes. There are sharrows and signs reminding motorists that cyclists can use the full lane, but it’s a chokepoint and more than a few motorists become impatient and frustrated. I know. I’ve ridden through here multiple times as it’s the best option for me to get to Roy and the Rio Grande Trail to Salt Lake City.
In a perfect world, officials would simply ticket those who drive aggressively or otherwise refuse to share the road as the law requires, but we’re not there yet. Even if we were there, many cyclists wouldn’t be comfortable with this arrangement, especially those who ride casually. 4400 South goes uphill heading west and it’s a little work to get through this section. You’re going to slow down and that tends to make everybody a little stressed.
That’s why I think it’s worthwhile that Roy and Riverdale officials are installing a side path through here along with a separate bridge over Interstate 15. I say this even though it’s probably going to take me longer to navigate this crossing on the new side path than it does presently on the road. It remains to be seen whether or not cyclists will be discouraged from using the road. I suspect that we will, be it officially or unofficially. Motorists will see the new bridge and expect us to use it. Those who choose the road will likely be hassled and buzzed. That’s just the way it is.
But it’s not about me. It’s about making America more bicycle friendly. This is a step in the right direction. This is connectivity. I’ll make an effort to use it, even if it takes a little longer. Kudos to those who made it happen.