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Politics & Government

SLC Says No Bike Lanes Are Needed Near U — That Has Cyclists Worried

Bike lane safety symbol painted on the street
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Dave Iltis with Cycling Utah said bike lanes on 100 S. would make riders feel safer. “I personally don't want to ride in the car travel lane and would like my own space so cars can easily pass by me without putting me in danger or running into me from behind,” he said.

Salt Lake City’s Complete Streets ordinance is meant to encourage biking and walking instead of driving by creating a safe space for non-motorists.

That’s especially important to Dave Iltis with Cycling Utah. His group is advocating for bike lanes on 100 South near the University of Utah.

Back in the ‘90s, Iltis got hit by a car while riding his bike through Salt Lake.

“I don't want to see that happen to anybody else,” he said. “If I can do something that prevents someone else from going through what I went through, I'm going to do that.”

On Monday, a Salt Lake City committee voted to exempt the 100 South road reconstruction project from the Complete Streets ordinance and not add bike lanes there. The ordinance says bikeways “shall be established in new construction and reconstruction projects” unless it meets certain criteria for exceptions.

Iltis said sharing road space with fast-moving traffic can create a dangerous situation. The speed there is posted at 30 mph, but data from the city show the average speed is around 39.

Jon Larsen, Salt Lake City’s transportation director, said this project doesn’t need bike lanes because there are already options on neighboring streets.

“You have signage to help encourage people to use these marked, very wide bike lanes in order to get from downtown to the U, and [there are] several options,” Larsen said at the committee meeting.

Instead, he said the project will focus on improving pedestrian safety.

Courtney Reeser, a member of the city’s Transportation Advisory Board, said it’s important to think about how everyone uses the road.

“We have to remember that it's not just about one set of users, it's about all sets of users,” Reeser said.

In the meantime, Iltis said he’ll be pushing Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall to overturn the committee’s decision, even though he knows not every street can accommodate a bike lane.

“What I do think is that every street in Salt Lake City should be safe to ride a bike,” he said. “Every street in Salt Lake City should be safe to walk on. The reason we're pushing this is to set a standard and to make Salt Lake City a safer and better place to live.”

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