Proposed bike center doesn’t solve problem

By By Alicia Williams

By Alicia Williams

An open house was held Oct. 8 as a brainstorming effort to meet the demands of bicyclists who utilize public transportation. The Utah Transit Authority, Utah Department of Transportation and officials from Salt Lake City met with the bicyclists and others interested in bicycling issues for the area. They passed out surveys and asked for suggestions on how public transportation for bicyclists can be improved.

They then introduced a new bike center that will be a place to store bikes, eat and take a shower.

Although a bike center has some merits, there are a few problems. Besides the fact that it is only in the planning stage and construction won’t even begin until spring, the center will do nothing to alleviate the prevalent rider issue8212;the lack of space on the University TRAX line between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The future bike center will be located at UTA’s Intermodal Hub at 250 S. 600 West and primarily targets FrontRunner passengers.
Pax Rasmussen, a U instructor who brings his bike to campus on TRAX every day, then rides it home, said the bike situation is out of control.

“The trains are freaking packed, I mean packed. You’re pressed body to body,” Rasmussen said. “On the morning trains going up to the university, there are far more bike riders than the train can accommodate. Obviously, the bicycle center isn’t going to help it.”

Only two bikes are allowed on either end of a TRAX car, and other riders with bikes are expected to wait for the next train that comes 15 minutes later. In an effort to alleviate crowding in the entrance areas, UTA removed one row of seating, but did not increase the number of bikes allowed on, which is the problem.

If they followed the rules, bicyclists would be required to wait for an empty train to get on. Instead, they are choosing to pack in with the rest of the riders, while everyone on the train more or less takes it with a grain of salt.

“Bicyclists are solving the problem themselves. They are putting 10 to 12 bicycles per car,” Rasmussen said. “It’s a very democratic solution. Just imagine one of those packed trains, there’s 12 bikes in the car, and the officer comes on the train and says, “Who was the two that were on first?'”

UTA will not consider requests from bicyclist TRAX riders for some type of hanging rack system to contain their bikes within the trains. This is something that would allow more bikes to be held in a safe, neat and orderly manner. The racks could be placed where seats were removed so that no additional riders would be displaced.

Carrie Bohnsack-Ware, a UTA spokeswoman, said, “The fact that we would be concerned that people would be hitting their heads on these racks and there wouldn’t be enough room for regular people to get out of the way, because that has been brought up before and I know that some of our engineers have looked into that and that they have said that while it’s a possibility, there are a lot of drawbacks to that as well.”

UTA’s continued refusal to consider hanging racks is unfair to riders both with and without bikes. Although the bike center will be a nice amenity, it does not address the problems of numerous bike riders who need to take their bikes up to the U with them.

If UTA is not willing to consider the rack system, then it should at least increase the frequency of trains during peak hours for the University line.

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Alicia Williams

Willus Branham