08 July 2009

Well - Maybe not the Utah Department of Transportation. The praise should probably be heaped upon Salt Lake City and West Valley City. But I am getting ahead of myself…

####Back on the Bike In the last 11 months, my Garmin GPS tells me that I have ridden my Roubaix only 23 times. The other bikes in the stable have rarely been removed from the storage hooks. It’s been a sad time for two-wheeled vehicles in the GC household.

That has changed the last couple of weeks. I have managed two long (2%2B hrs) training rides, and this week have commuted home from work by bike both Monday and Tuesday.

Someone has been busy while I have been driving instead of riding.

####Impersonating Lewis and Clark Anyone who has a lengthy suburban-urban commute discovers the issues of ‘crossings’. The old explorers and pioneers had to cross daunting obstacles; most frequently large rivers. In the urban setting the equivalent for the bike commuter is major highways and freeways (although in my case a river comes into play as well).

For me to make the commute from Magna, Utah to downtown Salt Lake City I have to cross some combination of:

  • Interstate 15
  • Interstate 215
  • State Road 201
  • Bangerter Highway
  • Multiple Railroad Lines
  • Jordan River

There are only a limited number of possibilities to cross each of these - for instance, I can cross State Road 201 at 5600 W, 3200 W, Redwood Rd, or use the Jordan River Parkway. Other than the parkway, all of these crossings are major funnels for automotive traffic.

One of the more convenient routes allowed me to cross SR 201 at 5600 W and then go under both I-215 and I-15. The drawback there was that the route travelled through a major industrial area with fairly narrow roads and heavy truck traffic.

All of that was a long lead-in to my discovery that after 9 years of bike commuting, and putting up with chip-seal, re-pavings that eradicate the shoulder, and the actual removal of lanes from certain roads, my two primary routes have been dramatically improved.

####California Ave This stretch of California Ave has always been somewhat treacherous. It was narrow. The shoulder was deteriorating and crumbling. The road is heavily travelled by garbage trucks and tractor trailers. In the last 9 months it has been widened to two lanes eastbound and one lane westbound, with a wide shoulder westbound. They even added an optical attenuator at the intersection at 5600 W rather than an impedance loop so all you riders with carbon-fiber bikes can still trigger the light rather than needing to run it when it won’t change.

####Lake Park Ave There is a business park in West Valley City that I ride through frequently; especially if I want to ride the Jordan River Parkway as part of my commute. The problem was that the roads in the park either dead-ended, or dumped you up to a much busier road. During my ‘down time’ West Valley City completed Lake Park Ave to connect to 5600 W. It’s a very bike friendly route. The shoulder is pretty wide; they added traffic calming roundabouts; and at least a portion of the new roads in the area are marked as bike routes.

So thanks, sincerely, to whichever government departments or agencies (or the developers, these are business/industrial parks so maybe it was the developers that paved the roads). The changes you have made are not trivial in the life of a bike commuter.



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