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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it’s biking, walking, driving or riding public transit, there are plenty of ways to get around Salt Lake City.
However, many people don’t feel safe with some of their travelling options, and the city’s transportation division plans to do something about that, according to Salt Lake City Transportation director Robin Hutcheson.
In a recent update of the Salt Lake City Pedestrian and Bike Master Plan, the transportation division outlines a plan to add miles of walking and biking paths in the city over the next 20 years.
“The purpose of the plan is to lay out for us as a city what we need to do to make safe and enjoyable environment for walking and bicycling,” Hutcheson said.
Although the city has been very focused on bicyclists, Hutcheson said equal emphasis on pedestrians will be focused by adding more safety signals, including nine signals installed this past year.
The city will continue adding amenities that cater to those who travel on foot, including mid-block signals and crosswalks, refuge islands and pavement markings, according to the plan.
“Often we take walking for granted and, unless we make investments, we may not be encouraging people to walk and people may not be comfortable,” Hutcheson said. “Yet, it’s such a fundamental piece of our transportation network.”
The city is adding biking amenities as well, including multi-use paths, protected and buffered bike lanes and neighborhood bicycle boulevards, according to the plan.
“There are over 1,000 comments on the master plan with the feeling among our residents that they would ride their bikes if they felt safer,” Hutcheson said. “That’s a great thing. We can make it safer.”
Some walking and biking paths won’t be available for a number of years, but several projects are under way now.
The transportation division recently received funding for the McClelland Trail, a multi-use bike path that roughly follows McClelland Street.
Construction on a protected bike lane will start on 200 West this summer.
“In every waking hour, we are thinking about safety,” Hutcheson said. “It’s such an essential part of what we do, pedestrian safety especially.”
Part of the master plan is to enhance the walking and biking experience so travelers don’t have to drive their cars all the time, which will improve air quality, Hutcheson said.
“Every time we can encourage someone to make a different choice than driving their own vehicle, that’s a major step toward improving our air,” Hutcheson said. “We have this environmental imperative to encourage some different choices. We hear on a consistent basis that people want these choices.”
The master plan can be viewed as a draft online, and it is available for public comments through Dec. 17.