Utah ranks 13th among bicycle friendly states

Published: Tuesday, May 22 2012 1:11 p.m. MDT

Ty Hopkins, shown here commuting to work on his bicycle, participated in six triathlons last year and a 206-mile bicycle race from Logan to Jackson, Wyo. He said he would like to see Utah become more protective of bicyclists.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

In celebration of National Bike Month, Salt Lake City hosted its National Bike to Work Day last Friday, and just a few days later the League of American Bicyclists announced that Utah is the 13th most friendly state for cycling in the nation.

Along with Utah, the West ranked high as a region, scoring a 5 out of 5.

In its rankings, the League lists 10 signs for success, and of those 10, Utah does well in six areas. Those areas include:

Safe passing/vulnerable road user law

Active state advocacy group

Share the road campaign

Bicycle education for police

Bicycle safety emphasis in strategic highway safety plan

Top 10 state for congestion mitigation and air quality spending.

Safety awareness programs like Road Respect: Car & Bike Rules to Live By help reduce bicycle-motor vehicle crashes, which according to the Utah Department of Public Safety, are almost all preventable. Road Respect is sponsored by the Utah Department of Transportation, Zero Fatalities and the Highway Safety Office, as bicycle safety is a high priority in Utah.

Bike Utah, which partnered with Salt lake City Transportation to host a new pit stop station during the May 18 event, works regularly to promote bicycle safety throughout Utah by representing cyclist at the Capitol and working to improve cycling conditions. One way they do so, is by holding, hosting and promoting events and connecting cyclists through their Facebook page.

And Bike Utah isn't the only organization working toward building a cycling community. Throughout Utah, there are several cycling clubs that fit the different interest levels that Utah cyclists may have. Whether it be for fitness, recreation, commuting or even touring, clubs like the Bonneville Cycling Club and the Utah Velo Club have created a gathering place and support group for cyclists in Utah. For a list of more clubs, visit HighAltitude2U.com.

And clubs aren't the only place cyclists receive support. Cycling Utah, Mountain West Cycling Magazine features articles on advocacy, commuting and an array of other topics related to cycling, that offer tips and insight to help Utah's cyclists.

As Utah is well-known for it's outdoor attractions, it's no surprise that biking trails are plentiful throughout the state. Sites like Utah.com and UtahMountainBiking.com can be a guide for cyclists who want to leave the blacktop and hit the dirt.

The League of American Bicyclists did offer a tip for improvement along with their ranking. They suggest that Utah "adopt a Complete Streets policy along with training and implementation guidance for engineers and planners." According to CompleteStreets.org the purpose of a complete street is to ensure the safety of all users of the road, not just motorists. And some complete streets projects are already in the works, like the 800 South/Sunnyside Avenue Complete Streets project proposed by Salt Lake City.

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