City could open bike transit center

By Isabella Bravo, Staff Writer

A bicycle transit center might be coming to Salt Lake City as a part of a citywide effort to make bicycling a mainstream mode of transportation in the city.

Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, a Utah Transit Authority spokeswoman, said the planning project for the center is an opportunity to explore how it can best meet the needs of the cycling community, which mainly consists of U students.

UTA, Salt Lake City, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s Bicycle Association have partnered to sponsor this project.

Mark Kennedy, a cyclist and the project’s representative from the Bicycle Association, said the center would help commuters to not see cycling as a hassle.

“We want cycling to feel like a safe, viable way of transportation, particularly for youth,” Kennedy said. “(We hope) this project will alleviate traffic in the downtown area, make this a greener city, a thinner and healthier city, and develop cycling to then become commonplace.”

Bike centers, facilities primarily for safe, indoor bicycle parking, are popping up across the country. Cities, such as Long Beach, Seattle and soon Washington D.C., have these facilities. Indoor parking is central to the project, but other amenities for bicyclists could include a bike repair, rental shop, cycling information center, showers, changing rooms and a refreshment store. The sponsors selected the non-profit organization Bikestation to design the center based on Salt Lake cyclists’ needs.

About 20 cyclists and sponsors attended a public discussion about the bike center. The sponsors proposed the project and addressed the attendees’ questions and concerns.

Cyclists in the room agreed that bicycle commuting in the Salt Lake Valley is not an easy task.

“Right now you really have to bend over backwards to bike to work,” one attendee said.

The Bikestation would most likely find a home at UTA’s Intermodal Hub at 250 S. 600 West. Many FrontRunner riders would like to have the option of storing their bikes in Salt Lake, instead of commuting on the Frontrunner with them, said Shaina Quinn, UTA project manager.

The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, a community-run bicycle repair shop and the parent organization for the U Bicycle Collective, is in the running for the managing facility of the new center, said Jonathan Morrison, the collective’s executive director who proposed the idea for a bike transit center.

The planning phase for the project will end in spring 2009 and construction might begin within nine months to more than a year.

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