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Salt Lake City intersection gets makeover sponsored by e-scooter company

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Mark Manzanares, a crew member with Peck Striping, throws reflective beading on a newly painted crosswalk at the intersection of 300 East and 700 South in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. The Salt Lake City Mayor’s Office, Spin and Bike Utah are partnering to turn the intersection into a multimodal community space.

Kristin Murphy

SALT LAKE CITY — Access to the intersection of 300 East and 700 South will be closed to vehicle traffic through Saturday to allow for a new and colorful makeover.

Spin, the latest e-scooter company to enter the Salt Lake market, has contracted with Team Better Block, an urban design company based in Dallas and Oklahoma City, to transform the intersection into what the e-scooter company is dubbing a “Spin Space.”

“We are essentially taking this whole block and making it more visible, making it easier for bikers, people on scooters or just pedestrians in general,” said Devin Youngblood, a Spin team lead supervising work at the intersection on Wednesday.

Over the next few days, contractors and Better Block employees will work with community volunteers to paint the crosswalk and the barrier lines between the bike and parking lanes on a portion of 300 East.

Youngblood said the vibrant blues, greens and yellows are meant to “make (the intersection) more visible” and “user-friendly.”

A 2012 Bike Utah pilot design placed parking spots in between the road and bike lanes on 300 East to create a kind of safety barrier for cyclists. However, Tom Millar, a planner at Salt Lake City’s division of transportation, said that ever since the parking spots went in, “we’ve gotten requests from the people who live nearby and they’ve wanted something that is a little bit nicer looking than just (white) paint and those plastic sticks.”

Millar said Spin originally approached the city hoping to sponsor creation of a new bike lane, but the more “feasible” project was to “freshen up” the existing lane on 300 East. Though physical barriers placed in the intersection over the next few days, such as planter boxes and a Spin scooter docking station, will be removed after the event, the colorful paint will remain until it fades.

Millar said the city hopes the initiative will spark community feedback and a testing ground for what future planning for the intersection might look like.

The project is part of Spin’s “Safe, Livable and Just Streets” initiative, which funds urban design projects that help render streets accessible to bikes, scooters and pedestrians.

“The e-scooter boom and demand for micromobility in cities presents an unprecedented and long-awaited opportunity to redesign our streets for people,” wrote Beaudry Kock, Spin’s head of policy initiatives, in a news release.

Over the course of the weekend, Spin has invited residents to come out and help paint the intersection, ride Spin scooters and plant flowers in the planter boxes. The news release emphasizes the company’s hope that the salt lake initiative will be a demonstration of “how easy it is to redesign streets for all people.”

Alexis Athens, who participated as a community volunteer on Wednesday, said, “I am a big cyclist myself and so I really support the initiative in making this a safe infrastructure for other bikers.”