ANTELOPE ISLAND — Adding 8-foot-wide bike lanes in each direction to the Antelope Island causeway and keeping the lanes free of gravel should create a much safer, smoother riding surface for the hundreds of bicyclists who ride the route each week.
Depending on the weather, 10 to 35 bicyclists ride the causeway each weekday. That number swells to about 50 bicyclists a day on Saturdays and Sundays, a state park official said.
The road is popular with bicyclists because it is straight and smooth.
The designated bicycle lanes are expected to be in place within a few weeks, Davis County Public Works Director Kirk Schmalz said.
In addition to adding designated bike lanes to the 7-mile causeway, county public works crews will establish a schedule for sweeping the lanes to keep loose gravel to a minimum, Schmalz said.
The Davis County Commission recently approved a $10,779 contract with All-Star Striping, of Ogden, to have the road striped.
The bike lanes and increased road maintenance are in response to the number of bicyclists riding in the vehicle travel lanes, posing a risk to riders and motorists.
Schmalz said the speed limit on the causeway is 50 mph, which means vehicles are traveling along that road at a pretty good clip.
With the road recently having been resurfaced, creating a smooth surface, officials fear the vehicles traveling on the causeway could be going even faster than the 50 mph posted speed limit.
“We are definitely concerned with bicycle safety out there,” County Commissioner Louenda Downs said.
A few years ago a bike rider crashed into the back end of a parked vehicle. The driver had pulled off to the side to sightsee and take some photos, a state official said. Apparently, the bike rider had his head down and did not see the parked vehicle.
There also was a recent verbal confrontation on the causeway between a motorist and a bike rider. The motorist claimed the bike rider was impeding traffic by riding in the vehicle travel lane, the official said.
County leaders are concerned that more bicyclists are riding in the vehicle travel lanes because of the amount of loose gravel that builds up along the shoulder of the road. To encourage riders to remain off to the side of the road, county work crews will regularly sweep the road.
“We don’t want to have a problem,” Schmalz said.
Speaking about the county recently resurfacing the causeway at a cost of about $1.1 million, Schmalz said:
“We smoothed it out for them. Now we have to keep it safe for them.”