Mixed Reviews on Safety of New Paths

By Stephanie Graves

Mixed Reviews on Safety of New Paths

With the completion of the HPER bicycle path at the University of Utah, some students and faculty view this as a progressive step towards the future for transportation at the University.  Others believe that the hilly terrain of the University’s campus make these paths a recipe for disaster.

“I have never been hit by bikers, but I have seen a couple of close calls,” said Chris Bond, a business student at the University of Utah.

Bond frequently treks across campus and especially on the new bike path created along the HPER highway.

“I have noticed that the majority of the time when there is a close call, it is often due to lack of communication from the cyclist or reckless driving,” said Bond.

With the implementation of the new bicycle paths, there is an opportunity to reduce the number of cyclist/pedestrians accidents.

The new bike path, which is located along HPER Mall and University Street had been “in the works” for 3 years and was completed early last year.

“The HPER Mall bicycle path was the only path on campus constructed last year. Salt Lake City Transportation reduced University Street to one lane each way and installed bicycle lanes,” said Chad Larsen, University Commuter Services Manager.

The new bike path was constructed to ease campus traffic and create a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists to maneuver around campus. Many students are not observing the signs designating the paths as “bicycles only.”

After witnessing a cyclist skid to the ground on approaching the newly constructed path, architecture student Kaleb Larsen said, “You don’t realize there is a dangerous situation until something like this happens.”

Even though there was a campus-wide release informing students that the cyclist/boarder/scooter speed limit is 10 mph, there is rarely enough numbers among the campus police to constantly monitor these paths and cite offenders.

“Many bicycle incidents and crashes are underreported to the (campus) police department,” said Chad Larsen.

And while it is those involved in the accidents duty to report these incidents, they rarely do.

With the development of this new bike path, Chad Larsen believes that the path will reduce bicycle and pedestrian conflicts and allow the cyclists to ride to their destination more efficiently.

Even though this new bicycle path along the HPER highway is less than a year old, there are already plans to expand the bicycle network across campus.

“Currently the University is completing a Bicycle Master Plan. The bicycle network is organized in short term, medium term and long term projects,” said Chad Larsen.

With the addition of the new path along HPER highway and future plans for more bicycle paths, it is important for all students to be aware of their surroundings and each other.

Chad Larsen said, “Bicyclists and pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings on shared sidewalks and Trax stations. “

If students and faculties are more aware of their surroundings and each other on and near these paths, these paths will create a huge impact on the efficiency and traffic flow around campus.