ST. GEORGE — More than 100 cyclists hit the streets for the Blaze the Bike Trail event March 24. The event was part of a trial run, as the event’s organizers wanted to show what would happen if bike lanes replaced street-side parking spaces on University Avenue near Dixie State University.
A number of organizations collaborated on the project, including: The city of St. George, Dixie State University, The St. George Bicycle Collective, the South Utah Bicycle Alliance, Spin Scooters and Southwest Utah Public Health Department.
Council member Dannielle Larkin, a cyclist who is on the board of the Bicycle Collective, spoke at the event.
“This project is especially useful to provide connectivity for the areas in and around the university,” Larkin told St. George News. “Our goal with bike lanes and tunnels is to provide opportunities for safe travel around St. George sans a motor vehicle.”
Marc Mortensen, director of support services for the city of St. George, was at the event, too.
“This is part of our Active Transportation Plan,” Mortensen said, a plan that outlines St. George’s intentions to make the city more safe and accessible for people who choose to ride bikes or scooters or walk throughout the city.
“Research shows that when people feel safe when riding their bikes, they’re more likely to do so,” Mortensen said. “So we want to improve safety to encourage more people to find other ways to get around.”
A recent accident involving former Dallas Mavericks center Shawn Bradley shows that there’s still work to be done. Following spinal fusion surgery, Bradley released a statement that called for “greater public awareness to the importance of bicycle safety.”
While the event lasted for two days, it gave citizens, as well as officials at Dixie State University and the city of St. George, an opportunity to see how the bike lanes would function on a busy stretch of road on the east side of the university.
“If we decide to make those bike lanes permanent, it would remove 80 street-side parking spaces along that corridor,” Mortensen said. “We’re going to resurface that road this summer, and we could re-stripe the road to include bike lanes in lieu of parking spaces. We want to look at all potential impacts to make sure this is a good thing for all involved.”
Larkin said she’s always looking for ways to lessen the city’s impact upon the environment and added that there are many benefits associated with encouraging more people to ride bikes to get to work and school.
“This will ultimately help with our traffic congestion, air quality, health and overall quality of life,” she said.
Mortensen said that the Active Transportation program will be discussed at an upcoming St. George City Council meeting on April 8 at 5 p.m.
Video courtesy of St. George City Director of Communications, David Cordero.
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