City unveils new trail signs as part of active transportation plan

Marc Mortensen, assistant to the City Manager of St. George, during a presentation to the City Council related to new trail system signage and the activities of the Active Transportation Committee, Feb. 11, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Those who use the city’s extensive trail system and bicycle paths will begin to notice new signage displaying more than just a trail or street name. The new signs were presented to the St. George City Council Thursday as a part of presentation by the city’s Active Transportation Committee. However, the new signage is just one part of this relatively new committee’s plans to integrate active transportation into the overall city planning.

“We have a pretty robust trail system in St. George, with 40-plus miles of trails in St. George alone,” said Marc Mortenson, assistant to the city manager of St. George and member of the committee. “Our only deficiency there is we have a hodgepodge of trails where we’ve had different groups willing to put in signage over the two decades where some of the signs have disappeared and some are inconsistent. You have a hodgepodge of different signage.”

Examples of new signs that will appear along St. George's bike routes and trail system, Feb. 11, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Examples of new signs that will appear along St. George’s bike routes and trail system, Feb. 11, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Mortensen said the various signs have proven confusing for people using the trails, adding that the city would rather have signs that are helpful and informative and get people to where they need to be.

Through grants from the Southwest Utah Public Heath Department and Utah State Recreational Trails, new signs have been created for the city’s trail system and bike routes.

The new signs will not only feature the names of whatever trail or bike route someone is on but also information on the trails ahead, how long the trail is, and how long it will take to complete the trail on foot or by bike. Bike route signs that will be posted along city streets will also direct riders to nearby destinations on the trail system, including distances to the destinations.

While installation of the signs around St. George will begin in March, Mortensen said the committee ultimately wants them to go countywide.

“We don’t intend to have these erected just in St. George,” Mortensen said. “We want to go countywide with them. We want every community to have the same signage, the same experience.”

As the city moves forward with plans to promote its trail system and bike routes for transportation purposes and not just recreational use, Mortensen said the signs will likely begin to include information on the locations of commercial and professional services accessible from the trail system.

“We want (the signs) to be informative so people know what’s ahead,” Mortensen said.

Other Active Transportation Committee current and future projects

Cyclists using the city's trail system, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Cyclists using the city’s trail system, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Mortensen and other members of the Active Transportation Committee also gave the City Council a review of the projects and initiatives undertaken during the previous year, while also giving a preview of what lies ahead for 2016.

Highlights from 2015 included the committee’s coordination with various Boy Scouts to install 24 bike racks around the city, working to repeal a city ordinance banning bicycles on sidewalks, increasing the number of bike routes on city streets, and starting work on an active transportation plan for the city, among other items.

Projects for 2016 include rolling out the new trail signs, installing more bike racks, creating a bike skills park, promoting use of the SunTran transit system as a part of active transportation, and educating both motorists and cyclists about the rules of the road.

The Active Transportation Committee, which was formed just over a year ago, is composed of 17 individuals representing various interests, including bicycle enthusiasts, business owners, law enforcement officials, public health and healthcare workers, professional athletes and city employees.

As active transportation continues to be a growing trend, the city will continue moving toward accommodations for those who favor walking and biking over cars.

Section of a path along the Santa Clara River, near the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Section of a path along the Santa Clara River, near the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Nov. 24, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“It’s true the millennial generation prefers one car and other alternative transportation,” Mortensen said. He added that those who work in the technology industry – which the city is hoping to recruit as the technology park at the Ridge Top Complex develops – also favor active transportation. Mortensen said the city needs to cater to those individuals in order to attract them.

An ultimate goal is to integrate active transportation into the overall future planning of the city through the inter-connectivity of trails, routes and streets and associated infrastructure

“St. George will be a place where residents and visitors of all ages and abilities can easily and confidently walk or ride a bike for transportation or recreation,” Mortensen said, citing the stated vision of the Active Transportation Committee.

Get involved in the process

As a part of the city’s current active transportation study, the city has created an online survey and an inactive map through Alta Planning and Design where the public can enter their own concerns and recommendations. On the map, community members can designate where they would like to see new routes, trail connections and other aspects of active transportation.

The survey and interactive many can be accessed though the main page of the City of St. George website.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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