Recent federal policy changes prompt transportation agencies to give bike advocates equal access to the transportation playing field.
According to UDOT’s last annual transportation survey, two percent of commuters ride a bicycle daily. “That’s huge,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator. She presented informationat the UDOT Engineering Conference on Tuesday about changes that favor enhancing transportation facilities for cyclists.
To some automobile commuters, cyclist seem rare because the total number is spread over the entire state system. But clearly, “we’ve got a lot more people on bicycles,” says Tuddenham. And that number will probably continue grow as more people choose cycling to save resources, get fit or just enjoy the ride.
National policy is moving in the direction of supporting cyclist-commuters in the planning process. Transportation Secretary Ray La Hood recently enacted a new Complete Streets Policy that is intended to give people who value bicycling equal footing when it comes to transportation planning. Two local agencies, the Utah Department of Health and Utah Transit Authority agree and officials are currently studying ways to make the transportation system more accommodating to skinny wheels.
UDOT, Utah’s premier transportation agency, is in a great position to lead this effort. And with thirty years of experience as a communicator and a well-earned reputation as an innovator, Tuddenham is a great person to point in the right direction. As a start, she suggests:
- Linking systems to transit so cycleists can ride to a bus stop
- Improving communication between UDOT and the cycling community
- Integrating planning with construction projects at each of UDOT’s four regions
- Coordinating with other transportation agencies
- Educating cyclists and drivers about how to safely share the road
Giving cycling advocates equal consideration does not mean that all roads need to be immediately painted with bike lanes; clearly some facilities are not safe or appropriate for cyclists. But, building a system where goods and services can be reached by pedestrians, cyclists and transit would be a great benefit to many Utah citizens.
“This is a new way of looking at things,” says Tuddenham.