ST. GEORGE – The newly appointed Active Transportation Committee – a 13-person committee appointed by St. George Mayor Jon Pike representing the city, the cycling community, business community and health community – held their first monthly meeting at St. George City Hall Thursday.
The committee consists of bicycle shop owners, race organizers, the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, representatives from Intermountain Healthcare and the Washington County School District as well as St. George City staff and the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Created in large part to represent the growing interests and needs of the city’s walkers, runners and cyclists, the committee advises city planners as they work toward maintaining existing, and creating new infrastructure that will conveniently and safely cater to those who use active means of transportation.
“Quite frankly we have the perfect environment for active transportation for people who want to walk, run, hike or bike to and from a destination,” Support Services Manager for the City of St. George Marc Mortensen said. “We are looking for ways to improve infrastructure within our city that will accommodate those modes of transportation.”
The committee will also serve to promote active transportation, including its health benefits, within the community, Engineering Associate for the City of St. George Monty Thurber said.
“We want to focus on promoting active transportation as well as planning and developing projects,” Thurber said, “and getting the word out for people to get exercise and to kind of help educate people on how to use bike lanes and bicycle and pedestrian facilities within the city.”
The first order of business for the committee was to come up with a plan to address the lack of bike racks in the city, particularly in shopping and dining areas, where cyclists can safely and properly lock their bikes.
“Often times we can provide all the infrastructure,” Mortensen said, “but if there is no way for a person to secure their bike once they get there … in St. George it is very obvious that there is a deficit in the number of bike racks. If you want to encourage more people to bike you need to provide places for them to lock up their bike.”
The committee established the downtown historical district as an area of high priority, Mortensen said. Because of its older infrastructure there are few bikes racks and shoppers and diners who commute by bike have had to resort to using trees and even garbage cans to lock their bike.
Or, like himself, Thurber said, they end up driving instead solely because there is no place to lock up a bike.
“Just having that opportunity to have bike rack at a business could make a difference,” Thurber said. “We want to do that downtown, a lot of people come into town and they want to cycle … a lot of people ride and it’s just gaining momentum.”
During the meeting committee members were shown a presentation of the history of trails in St. George, beginning with the first designated trail; Temple Quarry. The presentation also gave an overview of the different trails master plans beginning with the very first one which was created in the early 1980s.
Other key information contained in the presentation showed survey results throughout the years that indicated and continue to indicate a strong desire and need in the community for a connecting trail system.
One of the biggest concerns for city planners as well as the new committee is the high cost of creating the trails and finding the funding. Information in the slideshow stated that the average cost of a mile of paved trail is $209,000 which includes bridges but not trailheads.
The primary source of funding for the trails thus far has been grants, Mortensen said.
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