ST. GEORGE – Motorists in St. George, Hurricane and Cedar City may notice new pavement markings at select intersections this week featuring a 2-foot-tall bicycle rider with a helmet. The Utah Department of Transportation is painting the symbols in conjunction with upgraded signal systems that detect not only motorized vehicles but also bicycles.
“Cyclists tend to be all over the place” in an intersection, said Mark Taylor, UDOT traffic signal operations engineer. A purpose of the new marking is to give cyclists a centralized spot they can gather – and motorists can better notice – in an intersection waiting for a light to change.
“We’re also helping to educate the motorists that they need to share the road,” Taylor said.
“A big factor is safety and visibility to motorists,” said Craig Shanklin, president of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance. Along with giving cyclists more visibility and a consistent, single spot where they can be readily seen, it also gives cyclists a stop where they don’t interfere with vehicles wanting to turn right on red.
It should be noted that if cyclists stop in the crosswalk, the radar used to trigger a signal change will not detect them. They must stop by the painted symbol.
UDOT consulted with SUBA to identify “priority cycling intersections” where the new markings will benefit cyclists in the region. They ultimately chose the six following intersections to aid cyclists crossing some of the busier east-west corridors:
- St. George Boulevard & Main Street
- St. George Boulevard & 200 East
- State Route 9 & 700 West in Hurricane
- State Route 9 & Sand Hollow Road in Hurricane
- State Route 56 & Lund in Cedar City
A new pavement marking will also be applied on St. George Boulevard and 1000 East where signal work was recently completed in conjunction with the remodeled St. George Boulevard Interchange.
“We’re pleased UDOT is helping bikers be aware,” said Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George.
Though only two intersections were announced to be marked with the new cyclist symbol by UDOT in St. George, Mortensen said, “We hope to take that way beyond that.”
Currently over a dozen signaled intersections in St. George are outfitted with the radar system UDOT is using in conjunction with the bicycle road symbol.
The radar used at these intersections has been in use by the City of St. George and UDOT since 2009, and picks up vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and people. UDOT uses the radar at 503 intersections statewide.
“What we’re witnessing is an unusually close and cooperative relationship between UDOT and SUBA,” Shanklin said, adding that relationships between government entities and bicycle advocacy groups is “kind of adversarial.”
Cycling groups tend to demand a lot and government agencies tend to balk due to funding issues, Shanklin said. However, SUBA, UDOT and the City of St. George haven’t experienced such troubles. Instead, each works together for mutually beneficial results.
“It’s not just vehicles and it’s not just cyclists,” Taylor said. He said UDOT is working to better integrate traffic for everyone involved – motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
“They all have a right to the roadway,” he said.
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