In response to criticism, Summit County widens bike lanes in spots along Kilby Road
Jeremy Ranch resident Michael Conti cycled across the U.S. last year, riding on countless roads throughout the country. But, he said one of the most dangerous roads he’s encountered for cyclists is in his own community, the redesigned Kilby Road.
Construction crews spent the last several months widening Kilby Road to add turning lanes, bike lanes and medians as part of an effort to help traffic flow better and reduce speeding along the frontage road. A 450-space remote parking lot has also been constructed.
Conti was riding on Kilby Road in one of the new bike lanes last month when he was nearly struck by a Park City bus. He filmed the encounter from cameras mounted on his bike.
Conti filed a formal complaint with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office as a result of the near collision because the bus did not maintain the 3-foot clearance vehicles are required to give cyclists.
“These medians now force the driver into the bike lane,” he said. “I’m not trying to be that pain-in-the-neck neighbor, but the county has a problem.”
Summit County has been inundated with feedback about the newly designed road, with most complaining about the snake-like design created by the medians. Like Conti, many say the design makes it difficult for vehicles to stay in their lanes.
The county over the last week added more pavement to widen the westbound bike lanes in certain locations to provide an additional buffer for cyclists.
Krachel Murdock, the county’s spokeswoman, said the original lanes met engineering standards set by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. But, the work was done in response to the feedback the county received.
Tom Fisher, county manager, said widening the pavement will hopefully prevent vehicles from swerving into the bike lanes. He said it was unnecessary to widen the entire section of roadway.
“Our whole attempt here is to not only make the road safer and able to hand the additional traffic that we project, but also to slow some of that driving traffic so it is a little more comfortable for biking,” he said.
Suggestions from the community in response to the redesigned road have included removing the medians or straightening the road.
“It all goes back to the original purposes of the design: The community wanted a way for the traffic to be slowed down, and we are already seeing that speeds are lower,” he said. “But, we wanted to be responsive and if we’ve got the ability and it’s not an incredibly costly change, we felt it was prudent to try and react to that. We are also getting very positive feedback from some in the biking community because we were willing to put in bike lanes in the first place.”
Conti, while grateful for the bike lanes, doesn’t think widening the pavement in certain sections is enough. He has maintained that the bike lanes do not meet federal standards.
Conti said he has tried to communicate with county staffers to address his concerns, but his questions have gone unanswered.
“There are places where the bike lane is four feet,” he said. “The road wasn’t wide enough to begin with and this widening is like putting lipstick on a pig. It’s not going to solve the problem. This sets precedent that they put bike lanes in. But, they need to do it correctly. Unfortunately, the community is not happy.”
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.