Fresh off the heels of the 300 South project, the City of Salt Lake completed a new stretch of protected bike lanes on 200 West from North Temple to 900 South in October of 2015. This includes one of the first protected intersections in the country.
Many pro-biking groups laud this as a large step forward in Green city planning. But, as with the 300 South expansion, it’s not yet clear if these lanes deliver on the City’s promise to “better serve residents,” and “improve the corridor as a place for people and businesses.”
Stefan Marsco, General Manager of the Red Rock Brewing pub located on 254 S. 200 W., said he has noticed some confusion from drivers in the area as they try to navigate the new system. He and other business owners in the area said they have witnessed cars mistakenly pull into the bike lanes, thinking it is either part of the street or a place to park. Once in the lanes they do seem to quickly realize their mistake. “People figure it out,” Marsco said.
Sharon Cook, who came downtown to have dinner with her daughter, said her only confusion came from exactly where to park on the west side parallel spots. It was her daughter, Mary, who was behind the wheel, though, and she said, “Parallel parking is always a little bit nerve-wracking.” Mary likes the new bike lanes. “It just feels safer. I like having a bike-friendly city, even if it is a little bit confusing at first.”
Anthony Tucker, visiting from Arkansas, rode down one of the lanes on a rented GREENbike. “I think this is awesome,” he exclaimed. “We don’t have anything like this at home.” He feels protected on the street. “With its own separate lane, you’re able to enjoy yourself, enjoy the sites, and not have to worry.”
Marsco said that despite the confusion, he doesn’t think the lanes hurt their business. He said there is more parking along the street, and that cutting the street down to two lanes may cause people to drive slower, making it easier for them to see the local businesses. Their restaurant saw a rise in sales in the last year, though he can’t say if the bike lane contributed or not.
When contacted by Utah Stories for comment, the Salt Lake City Transportation Department did not want to discuss any details of the bike lanes, as they have not yet completed their before and after study. They expect to complete the study in the fall of 2016.