Bicycle Commutingby Don Williams, ECI
Bicycle Commuting remains an important part of overall transportation plans almost anywhere in the world. Recent funding announced in Kentucky is evidence of growing popularity, genuine need, and a darn good advocacy effort by the Kentucky Bicycle Coalition.
Having relocated to Salt Lake City, it was inevitable a comparison would quickly take place between my old and new worlds of cycling.
For my commute, the first eight miles of 19 inbound is suburban cycling, suffice it to say, it’s like cycling in the Smokies complete with creeks running off the mountain, hang gliders, horses, rock climbers and hikers. At the city limits the SLC Bike Route starts as a Class 3 route with signs every few hundred feet identifying the street as a designated bike route. Within six blocks, Class 3 turns to Class 2 with signage, a marked lane and pavement graphics. At 1700 south, (seventeen blocks south of the Temple-City Center) the route splits in three directions, a left turn drops one off the plateau and onto the very flat valley floor. From there, a turn onto one of two Class 3 North-South streets sends you toward downtown.
Salt Lake is a true college town, four Class 2 routes head East-West from downtown to the edge of the mountain and the University of Utah. Transit buses have double racks up front so one can commute via public and human power on any given morning.
Heading west from downtown one can escape the busy streets onto a Class 1 dedicated bikeway and ride to the airport, or beyond to the state marina at the Great Salt Lake.
Updated color maps are in the process of being distributed to local bike shops who help sponsor the printing and in turn have their store locations shown on the city map. Mountain bike trails are also shown. The local mountain bike club reports a membership four times larger than the local touring club. In the metro area, 10 or so Racing Clubs co-exist, posing a significant drain on central representation for the cycling road user. The LBC is twice as large as Salt Lake’s, and from early indications, much more active.
The differences? Louisville’s bike route system is older than Salt Lake’s. Perhaps learning from earlier mistakes, SLC’s routes are arranged as direct destination routes, and are actively maintained. A planner is assigned to look after bicycle facilities. Louisville’s route network, I believe, suffers some from a meandering route through neighborhoods, especially in the West End. The Louisville routes are almost impossible to follow if one or two directional signs become vandalized or stolen. However, for recreational cycling, and in spite of heavy east end growth, Louisville offers more roads into a sustained rural environment well suited for cycling without climbing 3000 feet through a mountain pass.
The SLC Mayor has a Bicycle Advisory Committee -- Bike to Work Day was a success. The Mayor was shown in the local paper pedaling to work. One of their pet projects is repairing “Grates from Hell,” those openings without cross bars guaranteed to swallow your wheel whole.
The similarities? Either city offers a great opportunity to cycle to work. The Mayor’s committee probably overlaps Louisville’s Transportation Committee in the County Planning Dept.
And a bike ride to work on even a cloudy day is better than a drive to work on any day.
Copyright ©1999 Louisville Wheelmen. All rights reserved.
Web posted: 28 June 1999
last updated: 1 July 1999
by Duc M. Do