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New bike lane design causes confusion in downtown Salt Lake City

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Posted at 5:41 PM, Aug 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-29 19:41:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The idea is for bigger, safer bike lanes in downtown Salt Lake City, and the first phase of the new parking and protective bike lanes on 300 South have been installed--but not everyone’s quite sure how it works just yet.

“Everyone’s having a difficult time, and they do not know where to park,” Midcity Salon owner Teresa Bowman said. “And I’m running out telling clients, ‘Don’t park there. Park in that funky square.’”

The new protective bike lanes on 300 South are catching a little criticism.

“It’s been construction and no parking, parking tickets and towing for the past week and a half," said Jonathan Bridle, a resident of La France Apartments on 300 South.

The newly implemented protective bike lanes along 300 South may seem like a good idea gone bad, but city officials swear it’s all a part of the process.

“It’s OK, we knew this was going to happen, we’re being very generous on enforcement right now as we’re helping people to understand where in the street to park now versus where they used to park," said Robin Hutcheson, who is a Transportation Director for Salt Lake City.

The new lanes put street parking between the cyclists and traffic, making a protective barrier for the bike lane. A survey done last year asking Salt Lake City residents what would make them ride their bikes more often showed people wanted more protection.

“It’s good for Broadway because it’s tough to take a lane because people are trying to pass you and they’re pushing you into the median, so it’s nice to be protected, it’s like the best direction Salt Lake City could be headed in," said bike messenger Graham Abrams.

The city looked at cities like Austin, Chicago and Seattle and decided the protective bike lanes were a solution, but they knew the change would take time to catch on.

“I think in the long run it will be great to have bike lanes that are user friendly for bikes, and have more pedestrians downtown instead of so many cars. I think it will be good in the long run," Bowman said.

The protective lanes from 300 West to 600 East are just in phase one of the transformation, in a few weeks they’ll begin phase two--which will help clear up the confusion because a curb will be installed between the parked cars and the bike lane.

“Such as curbing, special paint markings that will really help people who are parking know exactly where to be," Hutcheson said.

For more information on the city's plan, click here.