Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker conducted a campaign visit with small business owners at Boozetique on 315 East and Broadway. Mayor Becker is looking to be reelected for the third time. Thus far he has not been known as a frequent visitor to small businesses, according to those we spoke to, “I haven’t seen him since he has been in office, he has not walked in my door since then,” said a business owner on Broadway who wished to remain anonymous.
Before the meeting we also spoke to longtime Broadway book merchant Ken Sanders, “His bike lanes resemble a Rube Goldberg cartoon.” Sanders describes how the new bike lanes zig and zag between blocks and have created harmful barriers for bikers and motorists. “It’s not safe. And it makes no sense whatsoever how they designed them.”
Ron Green, owner of Green Ant, wonders why the mayor would choose the antique, vintage and retro central to build a bike lane in front of their curbs, when it’s obvious all of these business owners are frequently loading and unloading furniture. “We just hope that nobody gets killed,” said Green. He added that he was told the bike lanes would be removed in a year if it appeared they were not working. He is eagerly awaiting that day.
So very lucky for Utah Stories, we were invited to Mayor Becker’s campaign party by Ivy Earnest, the proprietor of Boozetique. In attendance, besides Ms. Earnest was the owner of the People’s Coffee, Nick James, but no other small business owners that we spoke to were invited. We had time for just quick questions before the Mayor spoke.
UTS: “So how do you respond to all of the business owners we asked on Broadway who are not in favor of the bike lanes and say they are bad for business?
Mayor: “Well, they don’t like them now, ” Mayor Becker said, “but we studied bike lanes for years, we spoke to many of the merchants and we did technical analysis of the street and the area. We were committed to provide a protected safe bike way.” Becker also said that he heard from many residents they wanted to bike but didn’t because it scared them.
UTS: How is 300 South more suited for the bike lanes when there are so many locally owned businesses doing retail where the parking is such a huge issue, and heavy merchandise is being hauled in and out of their stores so frequently?
Mayor: “We started on 200 south 3 or 4 years ago. Our original thought was to have the bike lane go down the middle of that road. But there were vehement objections and (City Councilman) Luke Garrott basically said, ‘No way I don’t want it on 200 South, but we do want something.’”
In our next issue we will gather more opinions and insight into the Parking Meters. The internal computer systems of the new parking meters have been torn out and transplants have been inserted in their place. We hope to find out the cost to taxpayers, and why it appears the city was required to foot the bill for the malfunctioning systems. The purpose of the Broadway Bee is to collect business owners’ insight into how the city policies are helping or harming small business owners.