Longhorn Drive Repaving Ends With Two New Bike Lanes

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Town Councilor Andy Romance and Vice Mayor Tim Fruth's goals would like Payson to become a more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly community.

"A lot of our streets are unsafe and unfriendly," Fruth said. "We'd like to change that."

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Vice Mayor Tim Fruth and Town Councilor Andy Romance examine the freshly painted bike lane on Longhorn Drive.

The first step in attaining Fruth and Romance's aspiration was taken early this week, when bike paths were added to both sides of Longhorn during a street resurfacing project.

One of the reasons Longhorn was chosen for a two-way bike path is the road's close proximity to Rim Country Middle School and Payson High School.

"A lot of students use that street," said Fruth, who is also the assistant principal at PHS.

Romance and Fruth agree that a commonly held notion of simply having students ride their bikes on sidewalks is not an option.

"Paved bike paths create a fun, healthy and safe way to travel for children and adults alike," Fruth said.

Romance bristles when he talks about witnessing drivers on Longhorn and other streets refusing to yield or give way to cyclists and pedestrians.

"That bothers me," he said. "People need to learn to share the road and bike paths will help them do that."

Although a portion of McLane Road now has a bike path on one side, Longhorn is only the second Payson street to feature paths on both sides. The other is a new portion of Airport Road.

Fruth and Romance said they eventually would like two-way paths built to connect all the Payson schools with Rumsey and Green Valley parks.

"It would make our streets much safer," Romance said.

An added benefit of building more bike paths is that they would encourage residents to ride bicycles.

That, in turn, would help ease traffic congestion, save energy, improve air quality and boost physical fitness, especially in children.

Both Fruth and Romance are convinced that cycling and walking represent a wave of the future and soon people around the country will be clamoring for more cycling/walking paths.

"If you travel around the country, you'll see signs that say ‘This is a cycling friendly town'," Fruth said. "Right now, we couldn't have that sign in Payson.

"But we can change that in the near future."

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