What is your vision for cycling (both road and mountain biking) in Salt Lake County?
As Salt Lake County Mayor, what will I do improve the future of bicycling in Salt Lake County (planning, budget, infrastructure, education, safety, economy, etc.)?
My vision for cycling in Salt Lake County and the surrounding area is balanced, far-reaching, and visionary.
The Salt Lake County Mayor must smartly promote the needs of the growing number of urban daily bike enthusiasts to safely ride to work, school and play. Plus, the tremendous growth and recreation potential in our treasured surrounding foothills and canyons must be recognized. For these rare, natural attractions are a resource that many voters believe are under-utilized.
Look at Galena and Sun Valley, Idaho, as fine examples of trail and mountain bike riding that respect the mix of the environment and local economic growth. They show us all that as a County, City and State, we can provide year-round, diverse recreation to the benefit of all citizens and visitors.
Cycling is a tremendous sport and valuable partner in our environmental and economic future. But there are governmental obstacles that must be confronted to make it possible.
Ownership of the bike recreation areas is split between the US Forest Service, Salt Lake City Municipality, Salt Lake County and numerous private property residents who legally have rights to our surrounding mountain lands. All of them need to be allied in a common cause for the benefit of all our citizens.
The Forest Service plan desperately needs to be updated to include stronger bike and hiking components. New trails on Forest Service lands will require lengthy NEPA studies and permits. The hiking and cycling community will need to come together to work out differing trail systems. Ski resorts and environmental groups must also be included to intelligently improve year-round, non-motorized and dispersed recreation.
Salt Lake County and City must take a critical look at the straining demands for recreation bike components versus future “watershed” protection and a critical look at their objections and restrictions. A sober discussion and re-examination what “watershed” means is crucial.
We must face the truth that most of the water from the surrounding canyons ends up flowing into the Great Salt Lake. This means most of our Salt Lake County’s drinking water comes from Deer Creek and Jordanelle. And those areas find it practical to allow and welcome the smart multi-type of recreational uses I believe in.
Private landowners must also cooperate and wisely participate for a better future. Agreements will be needed to allow cyclists and others to cross private lands on existing roads and trails, much like the Cardiff Canyon Special Use Permit.
Transportation is also a dynamic element critical to solving the coming recreational demands that face us. I propose a strongly increased, extended hours, daily bus service in our canyons, year-round to accommodate cyclists, hikers and skiers.
What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake County and what will you do to address it?
Safety! This means new education for beginner riders and motorists alike. Novice cyclists will benefit from public education campaigns highlighting bike helmets, proper lighting, rules of the road and smart biking. Also create a “shared road partnership” campaign that educates motorists on the 3 feet law and other important safety points.
These educational campaigns can be promoted through a bike safety blitz each spring. Funding for the campaigns can come from private foundations and health institutions that have a natural interest in partnering for more safety on our roads.
What will you do to grow the cycling economy of Salt Lake County (i.e. bicycle based business and industry, as well as communities that benefit from bike improvements)?
Years ago I lived in Ohio and interned with a successful equestrian show barn. The owners of the barn were included in a few visionary local horsemen and women. They created a horse show, the All American Quarter Horse Congress, in Columbus, Ohio in the off-season month of October. Many thought it a crazy idea. But it has become the equestrian industry’s premier show and convention. Annually, it now draws over 600,000 show attendees and boosts the economy of Columbus and the whole state of Ohio by a whopping $110,000,000.00.
A single cycling event in Salt Lake County might not attract those numbers. But my story shows what a single idea and committed people can generate for a community and state. Creating and promoting new, attractive cycling and recreation events unique to our canyons and valleys can powerfully stimulate our economy. In turn, it is one more way to entice business start-ups, industry relocations, investments, and economic growth. Just look at the extraordinary benefit the twice-yearly Outdoor Retailers trade show has brought to our County, City and State.
UDOT Roads are important corridors for bikes as well as cars. What would you do to ensure that UDOT and Salt Lake County support cyclists on these roads?
Salt Lake County, Cities and UDOT must all work together as they jointly manage roads and streets within our municipality. I believe it is crucial to also include UTA. For as Salt Lake County, the Cities and UDOT need to ensure safe bike routes, UTA must also be a partner to provide more bike racks on buses, light rail and Front Runner. Many times I have seen cyclists declined ridership because bus bike racks are already packed to full capacity. Plus UTA drivers must be trained to always set an example of conscientious driver/bicyclist safety for every one on the road.
We also need to do a better job of connecting our trails infrastructure to mass transit. For example, TRAX crosses the Jordan River Parkway and other trails in several locations, but the stations are not accessible for cyclists unless they go onto the road. A good example is the TRAX station at Gardner Village. There is a bridge across the river that takes cyclist near the station. If they had access, a person could use the parkway to commute to TRAX to commute to work or school. This would increase safety, and better utilize our recreational infrastructure. Right now, the TRAX station is near the Parkway, but it is difficult for a cyclist to access from the Parkway. You can see it, and hear it, but you can’ t get there from here. I will work with UTA, the Jordan River Commission and others to improve the connections between our trails and our mass transit system.
What will you do to work towards Zero Fatalities (i.e. Vision Zero) for cyclists and pedestrians in Salt Lake County?
My brother, who is one year and ten days older than me was killed in an auto/pedestrian accident, leaving behind a young wife and four little kids. Such an event is life altering and tragic and a constant reminder that the vehicle will most always win. Everyone can feel bad, but the human body is still dead or maimed. We need to do everything we can to protect our pedestrians and riders.
Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I mostly walk, take public transportation and I swim for exercise. I feel much more safe on the sidewalk or bus. (See answer above)