Cyclists and pedestrians propose changes to Center Street

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A rendering of the proposed raised crosswalk and sharrow on Center St. at 450 West. (BikeWalk Provo and Downtown Provo Inc.)

Provo community members are proposing design changes to Center Street in order to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians. 

The director of BikeWalk Provo, Mary Wade, and the director of Downtown Provo Inc., Quinn Peterson, co-wrote a letter directed to Mayor Michelle Kaufusi and the Provo City Council asking for safety changes to Center St. The letter is signed by a growing list of Provo residents, local business owners and bicycle commuters.

The group is proposing the changes now because of the ongoing city center construction and the almost-finished construction on the intersection of 100 North and 500 West. Wade said the construction has caused more drivers to use Center Street to get to I-15, which has only exacerbated the safety issues. She also said this is an opportunity to add small, cost-effective changes to those already happening on Center Street. 

The letter cites a video that the Provo Police shared this past January of a man on crutches trying to cross the crosswalk at 400 West and Center Street. The pedestrian in the video stops, waves his arms and yells at drivers passing by to try and get their attention. But cars continue to speed towards the crosswalk, not slowing down for the pedestrian. 

“Such near misses are not a rare occurrence on Center Street; they happen everyday. You may have experienced one yourself,” Wade and Peterson wrote in the letter. 

Wade, who is a cyclist, said she has been yelled at by drivers and experienced some dangerous situations on the road. 

While the speed limit on Center Street is 15 miles per hour, Wade and Peterson write that the street is designed for much higher speeds and most drivers go faster than the posted speed limit. They wrote that because of the design problems on Center Street, regular police enforcement is not enough to stop drivers from speeding and failing to stop for pedestrians.

The proposed design changes include installing raised crosswalks at every mid-block crossing between 200 East and 500 West in order to slow cars and enhance pedestrian visibility, replacing a missing speed limit sign and adding shared lane markings (sharrows) to make people on bikes and scooters feel more comfortable riding on the street instead of the sidewalk. 

The group also suggested adjusting light signal timing to discourage through-traffic and encourage faster drivers who want to get to the freeway to use 100 North or 300 South instead of Center Street. 

“Our goal here is not to remove all driving from Center Street; we just want to make sure that we are actually going the speed limit,” Wade said. “This is not an attack on drivers, nor an attack on the city. We really want to collaborate with the city to find good solutions.”

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