UDOT upgrades signal detection for bicyclists at priority intersections

New bicycle road marking at Main Street and St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Motorists in St. George, Hurricane and Cedar City may notice new pavement markings at select intersections this week featuring a 2-foot-tall bicycle rider with a helmet. The Utah Department of Transportation is painting the symbols in conjunction with upgraded signal systems that detect not only motorized vehicles but also bicycles.

“Cyclists tend to be all over the place” in an intersection, said Mark Taylor, UDOT traffic signal operations engineer. A purpose of the new marking is to give cyclists a centralized spot they can gather – and motorists can better notice – in an intersection waiting for a light to change.

New bicycle road marking at Main Street and St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 |  Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
New bicycle road marking at Main Street and St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We’re also helping to educate the motorists that they need to share the road,” Taylor said.

“A big factor is safety and visibility to motorists,” said Craig Shanklin, president of the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance. Along with giving cyclists more visibility and a consistent, single spot where they can be readily seen, it also gives cyclists a stop where they don’t interfere with vehicles wanting to turn right on red.

It should be noted that if cyclists stop in the crosswalk, the radar used to trigger a signal change will not detect them. They must stop by the painted symbol.

UDOT consulted with SUBA to identify “priority cycling intersections” where the new markings will benefit cyclists in the region. They ultimately chose the six following intersections to aid cyclists crossing some of the busier east-west corridors:

  • St. George Boulevard & Main Street
  • St. George Boulevard & 200 East
  • State Route 9 & 700 West in Hurricane
  • State Route 9 & Sand Hollow Road in Hurricane
  • State Route 56 & Lund in Cedar City

A new pavement marking will also be applied on St. George Boulevard and 1000 East where signal work was recently completed in conjunction with the remodeled St. George Boulevard Interchange.

“We’re pleased UDOT is helping bikers be aware,” said Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George.

Mark Taylor (right) showing a cyclist how the traffic signal radar system works, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 |  Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Mark Taylor (right) showing a cyclist how the traffic signal radar system works, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Though only two intersections were announced to be marked with the new cyclist symbol by UDOT in St. George, Mortensen said, “We hope to take that way beyond that.”

Currently over a dozen signaled intersections in St. George are outfitted with the radar system UDOT is using in conjunction with the bicycle road symbol.

The radar used at these intersections has been in use by the City of St. George and UDOT since 2009, and picks up vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and people. UDOT uses the radar at 503 intersections statewide.

“What we’re witnessing is an unusually close and cooperative relationship between UDOT and SUBA,” Shanklin said, adding that relationships between government entities and bicycle advocacy groups is “kind of adversarial.”

(Left-to-right) Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George; Craig Shanklin, SUBA president; and Mark Taylor, UDOT representative,  St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 |  Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
(Left-to-right) Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager of St. George; Craig Shanklin, SUBA president; and Mark Taylor, UDOT representative, St. George, Utah, May 14, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Cycling groups tend to demand a lot and government agencies tend to balk due to funding issues, Shanklin said. However, SUBA, UDOT and the City of St. George haven’t experienced such troubles. Instead, each works together for mutually beneficial results.

“It’s not just vehicles and it’s not just cyclists,” Taylor said. He said UDOT is working to better integrate traffic for everyone involved – motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

“They all have a right to the roadway,” he said.

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  • Richard May 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    Now if we could just get the rest of the signals to recognize motorcycles.

    • Ewe Taw May 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

      I think bikers should at least be required to license their bikes if they plan to ride on roadways over 25 mph. What if a bicycle causes an accident or is not obeying the traffic signals and other roadway signs (yes it happens all the time), then at least a motorist would have some way to identify the offending party. Just sayin . . . .

  • Doug Ence May 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    I hate taxes but wish these bike riders had to pay their tax share of roadway improvements then maybe they could lower the taxes on the registration plate fees and fuel tax that those of us pay that don’t ride bikes. These markings and signs that UDOT puts up cost money from somewhere. Yes most of the bike riders pay taxes too but that’s for their vehicle not bike.

    • Mark Vinclio May 14, 2014 at 6:16 pm

      I agree with you Doug.

    • Bossman May 14, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      ummmm, Doug, when they’re riding their bikes, they’re NOT driving their cars that they paid their full share of taxes on.

  • Super Grover May 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    It all evens out somewhere. I’m a cyclist. My 3/4 inch tires don’t cause a lot of road damage. I do pay plenty of taxes on my 3 cars and my airplane. Also pay double tax because I’m self employed. Pay a lot of payroll tax for my employees. Also pay a lot of school tax in spite of the fact that I never had any kids. Just sayin’ that I easily pay my fair share and more. A tax on bicycles is, frankly, quite silly.

  • Greg May 14, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    A Bike Tax! Why don’t we just have all the walkers and joggers pay a shoe tax to go along with the bike tax. Those walkers need really expensive signs just to cross the street. I can’t imagine how much those bike stencils are costing tax payers. I’ve got a better idea, come on out and enjoy riding a bike it only costs you a few calories and it’s a whole lot of fun. 🙂

  • Brian May 14, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    I love the intersections that use the radar detection. Most intersections you can sit there for minutes on a side street waiting for the light to turn green, even though no one else is around. The radar enhanced intersections are smart enough to notice no one is coming in the other direction and turn the light red for that direction and let you through. It’s about time.

  • Applejack May 15, 2014 at 2:44 am

    Southernn Utah drivers need to learn how to share the road. I ride a bike sometimes in the summer in the street with traffic flow. I would ride my bike on the sidewalk in areas where a dedicated bike lane does not exist but it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk. The code governing this is here: http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE41/HTML/41_06a110500.htm

    Thanks 🙂

  • Red Rocker May 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Cyclists contribute more than their share in numerous ways. Being healthier, using fewer resources, polluting less, etc.
    Making our community friendlier to cycling is beneficial to all.
    Kudos to St. George


  • G.S.H. May 15, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Bicyclists do not contribute their fair share period. In fact they contribute no share. The narrow self centered view of I contribute by being healthier using fewer resources is laughable and actually counters the argument that another commenter made about paying other taxes – in particular tax revenues on fuel.

    Now I know not every bicyclist is an aloof quasi-hipster that thinks by taking care of yourself your doing the rest of us a favor – and not all are idiots like the ones that cause dangerous situations by impeding to the flow of traffic or cutting off traffic as I have personally observed as though the bike has a magical 3 foot force field around it.

    And I am not so inflexible in my position that I would classify all of you a certain way other than you are bicyclists. I feel if its your thing you enjoy then great – good for you most of you are not hurting anyone so live and let live.

    However there are enough “bad apples” that I think a mandatory safety and road rules course should be required just as it is for ATV riders under the age of 18. I think the fees should be enough to support the program and pay back some of the expense of keep you guys safer on the roads.

    Second I think there should be a registration fee for every bicycle in the state that is owned by a person above the age of 18. there should be a road bike permit for street legal road bikes and a permit for trail use bikes – exactly the same as those of us who have both street legal and trail restricted ATV’s and motorcycles. There should be a fee and fine schedule for both. There should also be a periodic safety inspection and street legal equipment verification for bicycles.

    If you ride your bicycle on the roadway you should be required to insure yourself and your vehicle regardless of what it is. Otherwise use paved bicyclist trails that no bicyclist has made any direct contribution to because there is presently no registration or fee process to generate those funds.

    I have to deal with these regulation for all the vehicles I own and I do so willingly to keep my privileges. I have never even walked on one of the bike trails in the area paved or dirt but I contribute to the general fund that pays for them by way of taxes and license fees. I do use the trails I am allowed to use with my ATV and I enjoy it very much – enough to justify the costs for me but when I see a bicyclist on a trail I am restricted from or riding in the center of the lane left of the white line I get very frustrated because those people are not treated the same from a taxation standpoint.

    I will close with this – my point is not about who impacts the environment or resources more – I know and I pay for that willingly – my point is that I am an American citizen and as such should either not have to pay for my use of those resources because others dont or others should have to pay because I do.

    And the point about not having kids but pay for schools is nearly as laughable because lets face we are all paying into the general fund and most of that goes to support the illegal aliens kids ESL program, their school lunches and doctor bills.

    Why are you all so arrogant that you think you deserve a free lunch? Are all of you that way?

    Fair is fair and everyone should contribute. As for the actual users of these particular amenities they should pay a little more to help keep them and improve everyone’s experience.

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