Open Letter to West Valley City: A Bike Trail going East and West

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My last post was regarding my adventures trying to commute from the west side of West Valley City to the east side, and from there to Downtown Salt Lake City. Well, as there are no real bike trails going East and West, I thought I would start the ball rolling by contacting my City Councilman regarding the need. Unfortunately, the Mayor doesn't have an email for contact, so I will be writing a snail mail letter to him.

In addition, for any of you who are interested in adding your vote to an open letter, I will be posting mine here in this blog entry:

Open Letter to West Valley City Council
Dear West Valley City Council,

The needs of cyclists within your fair city is indeed dire. In a city that has been dedicated to it's citizenry, the protection of those using alternative transportation has been sadly neglected.

How so? By excluding bike lanes from your roads, or by excluding multi-use trails through the city, cyclists have been forced to risk their lives on roads with little or no safety zones behind white lines. Sharing the road with cars is becoming more hazardous as the city expands with new construction.

Because alternative transportation presents a unique and healthy way to combat greenhouse gases, and can also boost the economy within local areas, I respectfully request that you consider multi-use trails and/or bike lanes within your fair city. Those that cycle to work will be more likely to continue to do so, and those that have been less inclined to cycle will be more likely to do so if safe avenues are provided.

Now, I made two claims regarding the benefits of cycling lanes and multi-use trails. Let me go into more detail regarding those benefits.

Greenhouse Gases and Bike Lanes or Trails
Several cities across the nation have plans to expand their bicycle infrastructure specifically to address the need for reducing greenhouse gases. Their plans and rationale can be found at these links:

Plans from Marin County, California
Missoula, Montana plans
Plans from the City of Seattle, Washington
Plans from the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The list could continue on. As you can see, each of these government entities have recognized the need for expanded, save commutes for cyclists through their cities as an essential part of their commitment to reducing the production of greenhouse gases. My argument is the same. Reduce greenhouse gases by allowing people to safely travel the streets and paths through the city on their own power.

Boost to Local Economy
One thing that most "modern" cities lack is a truly local economy. Many cities, like West Valley, are a collection of suburban lots with a central shopping district that is generally too far of a walk to safely visit without driving. The only alternative would be using a bicycle to increase the range of those suburban dwellers that desire to shop. On the surface, this is an excellent example of why we should be looking to local economies when building bicycle lanes.

Another benefit would be the use of cycling lanes and trails by visitors to the city. West Valley can be the first west-side city to take advantage of regular bicycle tours, and those visiting are definitely going to use their dollars along the trails to be sure those trails remain for future tours.

While West Valley doesn't have scenic avenues going East to West, it is necessary to connect the Jordan River Parkway to the Oquirrh Mountain paths along the old Bacchus Highway, which is a frequented bicycle tour road. An investment of bike lanes within the City would provide an excellent travel opportunity for anyone touring along that road.

For more information on the economic benefits of bike trails and lanes, feel free to check out the following links:

From Darlington, United Kingdom
Greensboro, North Carolina
Study by the National Trails Training organization

There are many more points that I would like to make, but I hope that this at least gives the City some reasons for discussion, and more importantly reasons for action. This project would save thousands of dollars in gas money for the City residents, provide thousands more in increase economic spending by both residents and visitors, and will give West Valley City a place among the cyclists favored spots.

Please consider this much needed expansion.

Yours respectfully,

Jeremy Robb