Friday, October 16, 2015

News: Salt Lake City has launched the first protected intersection in the US

The development of cycling infrastructure is a constant struggle to balance the needs of cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. Many municipalities continue to turn to third party design firms for new ideas on how to strike the appropriate balance, and one such firm has adapted a concept that is increasingly popular in Europe and put in place a working example in downtown Salt Lake City. Alta Design + Planning, which specializes in active transit planning drew inspiration from similar intersections in the Netherlands and worked with SLC city planners to get it implemented at a heavily trafficked intersection of two cycle tracks.

Image courtesy of Alta Planning + Design
By adding some small concrete islands in strategic locations, the new protected intersection provides clearly demarcated paths for cars, bikes, and pedestrians, extending the separation and protection offered by the cycle tracks. Additionally, by using the concrete traffic islands, a space is created to shelter bikes that need to make a left turn, making it so that cyclists no longer need to maneuver across several car lanes in order to get over to the left turn lane. This makes the entire process of a left turn much less disruptive to the overall flow of traffic and helps to reduce the potential of crashes resulting from right of way violations. As an avid cyclist, I would welcome this kind of intersection anywhere there are protected cycle tracks. The good news is that several other cities are evaluating similar intersections or in various stages of implementation.

Alta is the former parent company of Alta Bike Share (now Motivate!) that provides bike share infrastructure and management in cities throughout the US, including New York City and Washington, DC. Since selling the bike share management side of the business, Alta has focused on design and engineering, working with municipalities to improve their transit planning to incorporate the needs of active transport users in addition to traditional motorized vehicles. It is these kinds of projects that make cities increasingly more enticing places for people to live, allowing for greater concentration of populations and jobs to help reduce our reliance on cars for personal transport. One of the biggest challenges for most projects that prioritize active transport over cars is the inevitable battle over things such as travel lanes and parking so creative solutions such as this one that improve safety without making car travel any more difficult are great compromises.

To learn more about the project and see more photos, visit the project page at the Alta website:

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