This Friday, park your car and hand the keys to a responsible adult. It is Bike to Work and School Day in Park City and the Snyderville Basin.
The event is aimed at getting more residents off local roadways and onto the community's spectacular network of paths and trails and the timing couldn't be better. Next week the Utah Department of Transportation plans to begin a $2.2 million resurfacing project on State Road 224. The work will reduce traffic to one lane in each direction from Kimball Junction to Bear Hollow Drive for about a month.
That stretch of highway gets congested, even when it's not plagued with a slalom course of orange cones, and has the potential to be unbearable during the upcoming construction season. Why not avoid the situation altogether and get a little exercise at the same time?
Some local commuters may not know there is a paved bike trail that can take them from Kimball Junction all the way to the center of Park City without having to ride in traffic at all. Various connections also branch off to Quinn's Junction or Deer Valley. Cyclists can even ride to the county seat in Coalville via an old railroad easement if their schedules and fitness allow.
For those who are unfamiliar with the trail system, Friday's event offers a perfect opportunity to pedal along with more experienced bike commuters who may be able to suggest shortcuts or additional routes while also providing good company.
Bike to Work and School Day is also a good time for cyclists and drivers to think about sharing the road throughout the coming summer months. Judging by the number of colorfully clad cyclists already speeding along the shoulders of the highway, it will be especially important for everyone to be alert and courteous.
According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, there were six bicycle-motor vehicle fatalities in 2013. None of them occurred in Summit County, but with both more cars and more bikes on the road, the only way to avoid a tragedy is if everyone is more vigilant. Using bike trails instead of roadways is a step in the right direction. So is the state legislature's decision to crack down on drivers' use of cell phones.
Let's kick off a healthy and safe summer of cycling this Friday. The hosts of the event will be available at the Olympic Welcome Plaza near the intersection of Kearns Boulevard and State Road 224 (across the parking lot from The Market at Park City) from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m..
Those construction barrels, already lined up on S.R. 224, look ominous but for cyclists the outlook on local trails looks like smooth sailing.
For more information about Bike to Work and School Day go to: mountaintrails.org
For more information about bicycle safety, including state laws governing cyclists and motorists go to: publicsafety.utah.gov/highwaysafety/bicycle.html
For more information about Utah's new Road Respect initiative go to: roadrespect.utah.gov