U Creates Sustainable Biking for Students

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The University of Utah and Salt Lake City Green have partnered to make biking to campus safer and more convenient.

A new bikeway, which opened this summer, connects two popular destinations in Salt Lake City — the U and downtown. Beginning in the westernmost part of campus, President’s Circle, and following 300 South into the heart of downtown, the pathway was built to ease the difficulty of cyclists’ commute between downtown and campus.

Symbols that parallel those of ski runs identify the three routes based on their difficulty. The path travels up from 200 South in downtown, stopping at President’s Circle. The black diamond path is the most strenuous of the three. The blue square route is meant for intermediate bikers, while the green circle marks the easiest way to and from campus. Each path has two switchbacks. The different pathways can be clearly seen by either bike or car, and they are lined with painted lanes meant to make navigating the hill easier for bikers.

After planning by the U’s Sustainability Office, the U provided partial funding for the project, while the Salt Lake City Transportation Division paid for the rest.

“The Sustainability Office leads the effort to transform campus into a more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly destination,” said Ginger Cannon, active transportation manager at the Sustainability Office. “Our department works to provide improved connections, facilities and programs for those who choose to walk, bike or roll to campus every day.”

The bike pathway initiative began in 2011 when school officials recognized the need to make the hill connecting the U and downtown more accessible. Since then, input from locals, U staff members and bicyclist advocacy groups helped shape the idea into a reality. So far, the bike pathway has received a steady stream of positive feedback from community members, Cannon said.

Biking is a common form of transportation for residents of Salt Lake City and even more so for the U’s students, staff and faculty. Riding a bike is often cheaper and in some cases faster than driving a car. The U was recently named the only Silver Level Bike Friendly University in Utah due to a number of bicyclists and bike-friendly features, like parking, maps and campus biking clubs.

The pathway is also part of the “Climate Positive 2040 Plan,” an initiative by the Salt Lake City Green to reduce carbon emissions. The main objective, according to the group’s website, is to reduce the community greenhouse gas footprint by 80 percent before 2040. Salt Lake City Green hopes that opening more bike pathways like this will help guide a shift in transportation to where it becomes more convenient to choose sustainable transportation, like biking rather than driving.

Following the bike pathway’s success, the Sustainability Office’s next goal is to add pedestrian and bicycle friendly routes to the roads leading to University Hospital and Research Park.

j.mumford@dailyutahchronicle.com

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