This is an archived article that was published on in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The proposed downtown streetcar plans are an example of how bicyclists' needs are often overlooked when transportation plans are developed. However, both modes of transportation will be improved if their needs are considered together.

Second South is the most attractive corridor for both transit and bicyclists because it is the only through east-west route. Putting a streetcar into the outside travel lanes as proposed on 200 South will be detrimental to the safety of bicyclists, who already face hazards from buses, as well as pose a risk to the boarding and departing streetcar passengers. Bicycle tires can easily get trapped between the rail and pavement and crossing a slippery, wet rail is dangerous.

Many bicyclists prefer using traffic-calmed 300 South as a downtown east-west bicycle route, avoiding the heavy bus traffic on 200 South. Second South presents other hazards for bicyclists such as road constrictions at Main Street and the climb to 1300 East, where they share a lane with cars.

The proposed streetcar route not only poses a hazard to bicyclists on 200 South, but 300 South as well, because the proposed route jogs south at 400 West to 300 South before continuing west to the Intermodal Hub. Consideration should be given to rerouting either the east-west streetcar route or the bike corridor.

Careful planning can solve many of these problems. One solution is locating the streetcar in the center of the roadway, as was done with TRAX. Another possibility is the creation of a center median-separated bike path on 200 South, which has the added advantage of separating streetcar passengers from the bicycle traffic. Where potential conflicts between streetcars, passengers and bicyclists exist, consideration should be given to incorporating separated bike paths into the plan.

The downtown streetcar project presents an opportunity for Salt Lake City to implement the recently adopted ordinance for a "Complete Streets" approach to downtown transportation planning. It is time for a comprehensive plan that improves downtown mobility for everyone: pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers and motorists.

Chad Mullins is chairman of the Salt Lake County Bicycle Advisory Committee.