Road Respect: Actively pursuing transportation solutions

Stock image, St. George News

OPINION –  A relatively new buzz phrase is showing up in our area’s planning circles: active transportation. You might ask – why is this different or special? After all, any form of transportation implies action and movement.

Cyclists using the city's trail system, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Cyclists using the city’s trail system, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

But in this case, the word “active” makes things really interesting, offering an alternative to the fuel-consuming, sedentary and passive way of the automobile.

With active transportation, we are literally talking about integrating biking and walking into our transportation systems, expanding possibilities for everything from commuting to high-quality recreational experiences.

Helping to bring this vision for safe alternative transportation modes into reality is the St. George Active Transportation Committee. The committee was created in late 2014 as an ad-hoc committee under the direction of Mayor Pike and the St. George City Council. It is made up of members representing various interests and organizations in our community.

The group is being “held together by the fun of riding a bike,” Active Transportation Committee member Craig Shanklin said, “and now, the realization that the bicycle can solve many of our local problems.”

The committee is currently working with Alta Planning and Design on St. George’s first Active Transportation Plan

Assistant to the City Manager and Director of Support Services Marc Mortensen said the completed plan will be presented to the City Council in late June or early July for adoption and incorporation into the city’s master transportation plan, which is currently being revised.


Read more:  City rolls out online walking, cycling survey as part of active transportation study


The Active Transportation Committee has also been involved in creating a program to acquire and place bike racks in commercial areas in downtown St. George.

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the City Manager of St. George, during a presentation to the City Council related to new trail system signage and the activities of the Active Transportation Committee, Feb. 11, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Marc Mortensen, assistant to the City Manager of St. George, during a presentation to the City Council related to new trail system signage and the activities of the Active Transportation Committee, Feb. 11, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The committee has also\ been instrumental in identifying a number of safety issues related to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. In 2015, the committee proposed the City Council amend the city ordinance prohibiting bicycles on sidewalks, which was approved in September 2015 when the ordinance was repealed.

“The committee is creating a culture of cycling in the community, for fun and for all the benefits that cycling can bring to a city or a town,” Shanklin said. He is also president of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to improving cycling in Southern Utah. These benefits include infrastructure improvements like bike lanes, trails, signage and better pavement, better planning for bicycles and pedestrians and outreach on safety issues.

Shanklin said the Alternative Transportation Committee is also trying to understand and change policies that hinder walking and biking.

As an example, there are many positives for children who ride their bikes to school, but of the 24 elementary schools in the Washington County School District, it was a surprise to learn that four schools have a “No Wheels” policy prohibiting children from riding a bike or scooter to school.

The committee is determined to understand what issues led to these policies and work to find solutions so parents have the option to allow their kids to ride their bikes to school.

A SunTran rider puts their bike on the front of a bus, St. George, Utah, undated | Image courtesy of Dixie Regional Travel Expo, St. George News
A SunTran rider puts her bike on the front of a bus, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Image courtesy of Dixie Regional Transportation Expo, St. George News

The committee also has been dealing with safety issues that cause accidents and make people afraid to ride. One recent example is the redesign of “curb-cuts” where the multiuse path transitions to the street. These curb cuts can be much more narrow than the path or at an odd angle, causing bicycles to hit the curb and crash, sometimes seriously.

Prompted by the committee, many of these are being reconstructed in a safer manner, including along Snow Canyon Parkway near Entrada (see photos of before and after in the gallery below).

Moving forward, the Alternative Transportation Committee will focus primarily on implementing projects identified in the plan and continue to work closely with the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance and other groups. Among its goals are educating the public on issues and improving infrastructure for those who use streets and trails for recreation and transportation.

The opportunities resulting from this action-oriented committee’s efforts are bounteous, covering healthy lifestyles and the pure fun of physical movement to overall quality of community and the associated economic benefits.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Road Respect, Utah | Logo used with permission; St. George News
Road Respect, Utah | Logo used with permission; St. George News

Resources

St. George News Road Respect column is developed with the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to making cycling safe and convenient for everyone who rides a bike. Opinions stated are those of the columnist and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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13 Comments

  • digger May 13, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Those Bikers, Like to put Their Life in Danger, I don’t get it, I ride But not in the middle of the ROAD!
    Its Like, I don’t care if I get plowed over from behind! I will never see it comin! whewwww

    • .... May 13, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Hey diggly wiggly you take a break from watching T.V to post a comment ? how’s your friends the Bundys doing ?

    • fun bag May 13, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      i suspect a good portion of these road bicyclists are autists. its a wonder more aren’t hit

  • .... May 13, 2016 at 8:48 am

    LOL I love articles like this because I get to see all the pathetic whining and cry baby temper tantrums bicycle haters want to spew out LOL ! I ride a motorcycle so I know how stupid and ignorant these drivers are out here.

    • ladybugavenger May 13, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      What’s your license plate # so I can accidentally change lanes in front of you (just kidding Dot) ( don’t hurt me! (lol)

      • .... May 13, 2016 at 9:20 pm

        I only drive around town when your not here I’ve seen the pictures of accidents that occur while your in town.

  • Roy J May 13, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Traffic is not caused by the relatively few people lolling about on a weekday with no employment and nothing to do. Traffic is caused by people with children who need to go grocery shopping, and by the workforce trying to get themselves and their tools to a jobsite or a workplace. Bicycles can’t solve this problem because St George is not a bustling city packed on top of itself, like Beijing. It’s spread out all over the desert, like Anchorage.

  • Roy J May 13, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    It should further be noted that nearly all the ‘improvements’ to infrastructure cited in the article are going to further impede auto traffic. Waste of money.

    • .... May 14, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Your comment is a waste of money

  • Roy J May 13, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    And, this is a desert. Not too many people are going to favor riding bicycles to work in 100+ degree weather, not when they have the option of air-conditioning and work clothes not stained with sweat.

  • Ron May 13, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    I really hope that the cyclists who are serious about riding, continue to abide by the rules of the road. There a few who will ruin it for the others. Like the moron cyclist who was riding on Green Springs towards the golf course. When he came to the red light at Middleton and Green Springs, he just kept right on going through the red light. When it turned green and I proceeded on Green Springs, I slowed to tell him “nice stop at the red light”, this moron vehemently shouted “…”. And this after he nearly got hit by a construction truck who had the right of way.
    But I had the last laugh. I was able to follow him while I got WPD to stop and cite him for not stopping at the red light and creating a traffic hazard for nearly getting hit by a truck.
    Next time I’ll just watch and see him get hit and mind my own business.
    Ed. ellipsis.

  • .... May 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Roy well maybe some of them people aren’t a bunch of wussies like you

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