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Ralph Becker backs boon for bicyclers, businesses

Published: Thursday, April 14 2011 2:49 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Mayor Ralph Becker bicycled to Squatters Pub Brewery Thursday to introduce a bike corral program that could soon dot the city.

"As biking is becoming increasingly popular and people need places to park their bikes, it's great to see us dedicate more and more space for the cyclers in our community," the Salt Lake City mayor said.

The inspiration for the bike corral program came after Squatters asked the city's division of transportation for more bike racks last fall. Their racks, which accommodate 10 to 12 bikes, were at capacity and bikers were tethering their bikes to parking meters, trees and signposts.

Rather than installing permanent bike racks at the site, the transportation division asked Squatters if it would like a bike corral, which would take a parking space in front of the building for a portable bike rack that could accommodate 10 bikes. The rack was placed in October.

"They reported that it got pretty good use given how late in the season it went in," said Becka Roolf, the division's bicycle/pedestrian coordinator. "They were definitely interested to pursue it this year."

Three other businesses will also have bike corrals installed in the next week and the city wants to install more at no cost to businesses. Each rack costs the city about $1,000, Roolf said. Racks will be up from April to November.

"Our goal in Salt Lake City is to make biking easy and accessible and safe for people to be able to get around," Becker said. "It should be an important part of our transportation system."

Businesses can call 801-535-6630 if they're interested in participating in the bike corral program. However it's a priority to install permanent bike racks on the sidewalk before using a parking space for temporary installations, Roolf said.

Kelli Robinson, who's commuted to work for the past seven years, said the corrals should help motivate more people to bike.

"As people that aren't commuting or aren't riding regularly see corrals, the may say, 'Hey, I can ride my bike instead of taking a taxi or driving,'" she said.

The biking corrals are another step toward a biker friendly community, Becker said. In recent years, the city has doubled its bike lanes and created a bike transit center. In the future, the city hopes to expand the bike corral program and create bike boulevards.

e-mail: sgarn@desnews.com

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