Let’s be honest, if you were asked to guess which American city is getting the country’s most advanced piece of bike infrastructure, you would say San Francisco, Portland, or maybe even Pittsburgh. A handful of you might point to Chicago or New York, but very few—if any—of you would go with Salt Lake City, Utah.
But lo and behold that is exactly where America’s first protected bike intersection is set to take shape. The idea behind the protected bike intersection is to extend the security cyclists have in a protected bike lane all the way through an intersection where traffic buffers typically disappear. In a popular video about the bike-friendly intersection (above), Nick Falbo, a senior planner at the Portland-based Alta Planning + Design, explains, “a collection of design elements makes left turns simple and secure, right turns protected and fast, and provide straight through movements that minimize or illuminate conflicts from turning cars.”Salt Lake City’s planned protected bike intersection. (Courtesy SLC.GOV)
So, why is the first such intersection arriving in a city not typically known for innovative bike infrastructure? Well, the city was looking for a seamless way to connect an upcoming protected bike lane with one that already exists and the protected intersection was the best way to do that. “We looked at the entire range of possibilities, and this just made so much sense,” Salt Lake City’s transportation director Robin Hutcheson told CityLab. “We know that ‘protected’ is what people are asking for. It creates safety and comfort. We have the space. It solves some of our parking issues. We’re able to do so much with this one design.”
Construction is slated to start on the project this summer and last two months.