Utah ranks in top 5 bicycle-friendly states

The League of American Bicyclists released its 2015 Bicycle Friendly State ranking, and the Beehive State comes in at number five.

Washington was ranked first for the eighth year in a row, followed by Minnesota, Delaware, Massachusetts, Utah, Oregon, Colorado, California, Wisconsin and Maryland in the top 10.

“We are very proud of the high quality of life enjoyed by Utahns,” said Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “We have worked to support and provide world-class bicycling opportunities across our state, both for commuting to work and enjoying the natural beauty around us. As we meet the evolving demands of our state and plan for the future, amenities like this will help Utah continue to be one of the greatest places to live, work and play.”

Bikers ride along a trail in a past Road Respect tour.

Bikers ride along a trail in a past Road Respect tour.

At UDOT, Integrated Transportation is our top emphasis area. In all phases of a project, we consider the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and other Active Transportation users.

On Utah’s scorecard, the state was given top scores on Policies and Programs, Education and Encouragement, Infrastructure and Funding, and Legislation and Enforcement.  When compared against the rest of the country in the various categories, Utah places near the top in just about every one.

Utah’s Collaborative Active Transportation Policy is a partnership between UDOT, Utah Transit Authority, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Mountainland Association of Governments and Salt Lake County to identify 25 focus areas statewide to connect bicycle networks together to increase non-vehicle mobility.

Some projects we’re particularly proud of include:

St. George’s Bluff Street at Red Hills Parkway interchange:  In an area that is historically significant for cycling events, recreational riding & training, and marathons is an intersection where a state highway through a natural preserve meets a city street. In this high-growth section of Utah’s Dixie, the city and state met together with the Southern Utah Bike Alliance to make center exit interchange. The interchange maintains a steady flow of traffic for motorists, safely connects runners and bikers to the trails in the region, and saved taxpayers $4 million by utilizing the natural topography of the area.

An aerial view of the new Bluff St/Red Hills Parkway Intersection.

An aerial view of the new Bluff St/Red Hills Parkway Intersection.

On SR-12, a Bike Path Extension is in its final phase of construction. The project will provide a safe alternative for bicyclist and pedestrian travel by distancing them from traffic. It will also provide a key link in the connectivity of this path from Red canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park. The project, which is a partnership with Garfield County using Transportation Alternatives Program funding, should be finished near the end of the 2015 construction season.

Salt Lake City’s Green Bike Program: This silver-level bicycle community has a Green Bike sharing program that gives a custom approach and bike lane design to fit existing streets. This includes shared lanes.

Jordan River Parkway is 40 miles of urban park that runs along the Jordan River. It stretches from the south end of Salt Lake Valley and connects north into the Legacy Parkway Trail in Davis County, giving tens of thousands of residents access to non-vehicular transportation and recreation.

The entire I-15 South Davis project improves active transportation in the area, especially at 500 South, 400 North, and Parrish Lane.

In Utah County, the Murdock Canal Trail is a multi-use trail that extends 16 miles through seven cities, from Lehi to Orem. It connects with numerous regional and city trails and will have future connections to seven additional trails. The plan for the area is to build a safer, more connected regional bicycle network. Future plans for this system, in conjunction with the Jordan River Parkway and Legacy Parkway Trails, will allow riders to travel from Ogden to Provo using only paved trails. You can view Region 3’s bike plan here.

Along the Wasatch Front, UDOT is continuing to install radar detection  at intersections that are frequently used by bicyclists and other recreationists.

We’re excited that the League of American Bicyclists has honored Utah with a top-5 bicycle-friendly distinction. While there’s still much work to be done to keep up with the state’s amazing rate of growth, we’re committed to exploring every avenue of possibility for active transportation. The creativity, enthusiasm and desire to collaborate with our partners is what drives innovation on Utah roads, and going forward, we’ll continue to strive to improve the quality of life for all Utahns.