St. George continues talk of protected bike lanes after successful test run on Main Street

This 2019 file photo shows the effects of a partnership between the city of St. George, Southwest Utah Public Health and Spin to set up a temporary protected bicycle lane on South Main Street to evaluate the potential for a permanent lane, St. George, Utah, Oct. 22, 2019 | Photo by David Louis St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As part of its Active Transportation Plan, the city of St. George has considered many ways to make the community more bike-friendly, including the implementation of protected bicycle lanes along key travel corridors.

The plan, developed in 2017, envisions St. George as a place where visitors and residents of all ages and abilities can easily and confidently walk or ride a bicycle for transportation and recreation.

A demonstration project conducted on South Main Street in October proved the viability of a bicycle lane running from the Black Bear Diner and ending just past the Megaplex Theater.

Mayor Jon Pike said the reality of protected bicycle lanes may come down to money.

“We can talk about this as we get into the budget,” Pike said. “We have talked about a couple of these like one on Tabernacle. I’d like to see what would work there, but to have a north/south bike lane would be really helpful.”

The city has identified other potential locations that could warrant bicycle lanes.

Part of a two-day long demonstration project that analyzed the potential for a protected bicycle lane on South Main Street. St. George, Utah, Oct. 22-23, 2019 | Photo courtesy the city of St. George

“On Main Street, I would like to talk about in terms of we are planning some major general planning for that area. I’d like to rope the bike lane into that. It may take us more than a minute to figure that one out,” Pike said. “On 400 East, I’d love to see us improve that and see if we can do something there. We have to determine what would work best.”

Kye Nordfelt, director of health promotions with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, said an active lifestyle not only promotes good health but has many other benefits as well, including economic stimulus.

“Studies show that if you put bike lanes in that encourage use, it improves the economy,” Nordfelt said. “Business and job growth increase, tax revenue increases, there is less traffic, safety improves and environmental concerns are improved. We see less depression and stress from riding bicycles and walking. … Getting people out and becoming more active people will be healthier, both mentally and physically.”

In conjunction with the demonstration bicycle lane, the city conducted a survey in which more than 175 people responded.

Of those surveyed, 29% said they travel along Main Street on a bicycle and nearly 60% said they really like the idea of a protected bike lane. More than 63% of those surveyed felt the protected bike lane was safer.

If protected bike lanes do become permanent, in order to create separation from the traffic lane the city would install a curb, vertical post or a combination of both.

Based on a traffic study conducted by the city last spring, approximately 10,000 vehicles travel southbound on Main Street per day, and 6,000 travel northbound.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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