Monday, November 06, 2006


A few nights ago was Meet the Candidate night at the local high school. There are some interesting local races including those for my district's state Senator and Representative. So I packed up the kids and off we went.

I got to talk to several candidates and made up my mind about a few races. The best thing was the chance to talk to policy and lawmakers about the concerns of a commuting cyclist.

I asked several candidates, "A legislator once told me that he was sensitive to the needs of cyclists. What do you think the needs of cyclists are?" The answers tended to flow around the idea of a recreational cyclist. The focus was on parks, trails and the like.

I was really pleased when two candidates seemed to really grasp the idea of cycling as transportation. They each talked about wider streets, better enforcement of the Josie Johnson Law. It gave me a chance to talk about Complete Streets and Safe Routes to School.

I was also able to share the major frustration of the commuting cyclist in western Salt Lake County - crossing.

On my typical routes to work I have to cross two high speed divided highway (SR 201 and Bangerter Highway), two or three interstate highways (I-15 and I-215 at least, and sometimes I-80), a river, and multiple sets of grade-level train tracks. At one set of tracks that crosses the 800 South bike route it seems like once I week I am blocked by a stopped or veeerrrrryyyy slow moving train working it's way through downtown.

I moved to my current home about 10 years ago, and since then the population has at least doubled in this area. The development has made nearly unridable three of the roads I used to ride frequently. One of the roads I have switched to is fairly good, but also has the old-style, wheel-swallowing sewer grates every few hundred feet. There is a parkway next to the river that now has an underpass below SR 201 (thank you SL County), but it suffers from an infestation of southwest thorns.

I recognize that I live in the 'wide open west' and that people out here have a love affair with their cars, especially the gas-guzzling, huge-family carrying SUV's. But I want to get the message across - I am only trying to get to work on time, just like you. I'd like to be able to get there more or less in a straight shot, similar to what I could do if I drove. And I'd like a little patience from motorists when on rare occasions I am forced to take the lane. Remember, I'm not blocking traffic, I am traffic.

So - I am going to vote bicycling as much as I can. There are a lot of other things important to my vote as well, but I only get one and commuting coupled with open space preservation are touchstones to me. It may not be much, but thats how I plan to contribute on election day.

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