Utah recently jumped to No. 5 on the list of most bicycle friendly states in the nation. According to the 2015 rankings by League of American Bicyclists, Utah moved up from its 8th place ranking in 2014. 

Utah has Bike sharing station in Salt Lake City.shot up the list in recent years, climbing all the way from 31st place in 2011. Recent projects, especially Salt Lake City’s new Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, adopted in 2014, contributed to Utah’s continued rise on the list.

With additional projects underway, Utah is becoming even friendlier for bicycles. With this continued progress,, Utah will likely move even further up the list next year.

Recent Improvements

On its report card from the League of American Bicyclists, Utah showed marked improvement in three of five categories. These improved scores are all due to various recent or ongoing projects. Utah and Garfield Counties are currently extending bike paths to connect more cities with safe transportation for bicycles.

Utah County’s projects are part of bigger plans. The ultimate goal is to allow cyclists to ride from Ogden to Provo exclusively on paved trails.

Another notable bike path is the Jordan River Parkway, which follows the riverfront for 40 miles. The Master Plan includes many more planned bike path extensions in the Salt Lake Valley.

Salt Lake City also boasts a bike sharing program, GREENbike. This program started in 2012, but has seen rapid expansion in the past year with more stations and bikes. GREENbike allows users to pick up a bike at any of the many stations, and drop it off when they are done at the station closest to them. The bikes are one size fits all and are designed for short convenient trips in the city.

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has also become more bicycle friendly. UDOT is working to make highway interchanges safer for cyclists. The department is also adding radar detectors to traffic signals. These detectors are able to detect bikes and respond to them accordingly.

Of course, the biggest factor in Utah’s success is likely the update of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which was just completed in March and is now available online. View the whole plan here.

In the past, Utah Bicycle Lawyers attorneys Russ Hymas and Kenneth Christensen have been responsible for writing in and introducing new laws to make roads safer for cyclists.

Future Goals

Utah’s Report Card also includes suggestions for continued improvement. They suggest adopting a Complete Streets policy, aimed at making Utah’s streets safe and usable for all forms of transportation.

All four of the states that ranked higher than Utah in this years rankings have this kind of policy. Luckily, the new Master Plan includes Complete Streets goals for the future.

The League of American Bicyclists also recommends creating an in-school bicycle education program. They further suggest that a system for evaluating progress needs to be implemented to evaluate the progress of new programs and hold them accountable.

As Utah continues to implement these kinds of improvements, it is likely that the state will continue its meteoric rise, and perhaps even threaten Washington’s eight-year hold on the #1 spot.

Photo by Rudi Riet via Flickr under Creative Commons License.