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A Brief History of the Provo Bicycle Committee

The reorganization of the committee (see post below) and the beginning of a new mayoral administration seem like a good time to pause and reflect on the past before we continue to accelerate our momentum in making Provo a more bicycle-friendly community, so as a historian (my day job) I decided to write up this brief history.

The committee was first established in the early 2000s and first led by Travis Jensen, a civil (traffic) engineering student at BYU. (Travis is now a bicycle infrastructure planner in SLC.) The committee worked with city engineers to make some important initial infrastructural improvements but after Travis graduated the committee entered a several-year hiatus. In late 2009, Zac Whitmore, Jamie Littlefield, and I revived the committee, and reached out to newly elected Mayor John Curtis, who recognized it, as he put it in our first meeting with him, as the “Mayor’s Provo Bicycle Committee.” That summer, Jamie had created this blog, bikeprovo.org, which along with social media became an important tool to spread word of our work. The blog also serves as an excellent record of our efforts and achievements. (If you would like to know more about some of the projects and initiatives mentioned below, please scroll down and back through time for more information.)

The committee, while not an official city body, enjoyed the support of the mayor and worked collaboratively with several city departments. This quasi-official status enabled us to collaborate city officials, both elected and non-elected, but take a more activist role at times. In 2009, we began to meet monthly, first in the offices of Economic Development, then in a Council conference room, for a while in the Community Oriented Policing Building, and since last year in the Community Development building.  We have been regularly joined by representatives from Public Works, Community Development, Police, Parks, and Economic Development, as well as the County Health department. We have hosted presenters from UDOT, UTA, MAG, Bike Utah, and many other organizations. Our average attendance during these last few years has ranged between 15 to 25 participants, but early on sometimes we only had only a few people show up. Although we would like Provo to undergo a bicycle revolution and become overnight a platinum-level bicycle friendly city, we have been pleased with the progress that Provo had made in becoming, physically and culturally, a great bike town.

In the last eight years, some of the accomplishments of the committee include:

  • Made tremendous progress, most importantly, toward the creation of a robust integrated network of bikeways throughout Provo. These include both major and minor improvements. Building support for a number of major and minor infrastructural improvements, including bike lanes and a multi-use pathway on 300 South and Utah’s second bike-signal at 200 East, the Lakeshore Drive multi-use trail, buffered bike lanes on North University Avenue, and bike lanes all across the city including on south 500 West.
  • Helped put several projects solidly in the pipeline that will happen in 2018 and 2019: protected bike lanes on Bulldog Blvd, a neighborhood bikeway on 200 East including Utah’s third bike-signal at 700 North as part of the BRT project, buffered bike lanes on 500 West between Center Street and Bulldog, another neighborhood bikeway on 800 East and 450 North linked by a cross-block path from 900 East to 800 East, and bike lanes on Canyon Road in the North Timpview and Edgemont Neighborhoods.
  • Achieved recognition for Provo from the League of American Bicyclists as a silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community status. We had applied and been awarded bronze-level status in 2012. Gold and platinum are to come.
  • Established a sense of community among bicyclists by holding a variety of rides (including the ongoing Monday Night Night Rides) and events (such as periodic Provelo picnics that included bike jousting). The Provo Bicycle Committee FB group now boasts nearly 500 members.
  • Helped create the Provo Bicycle Collective. Zac and Krysta Whitmore and other committee members incubated the collective (which we are sometimes confused with), which after a few lean years became a thriving branch of the Salt Lake Bike Collective with an ideal location just south of the BYU campus at 200 North/400 East. It is now open five days a week, managed by Austin Taylor, and has helped thousands of people obtain refurbished bikes and learn to fix and maintain their bikes.
  • Organized three tactical urbanism projects—first in 2014 on University Avenue to call for pedestrian and bicycle improvements as part of the BRT project, then in 2015 on 200 East to build support for it becoming a neighborhood bikeway, and last year (2017) on 500 North in front of the Rec Center to pilot buffered bike lanes (which were implemented) and pedestrian improvements (which have yet to be realized).
  • Worked with UTA and then the city to organized Bike to Work Day in May, and transformed it from into Bike to Work Week, and for the last three years Bike Month, that has included among other events a Bike to Work Day where local business sponsor breakfast stations, a Ride of Silence, a Bike Prom, bike-in-movies, a Ghost Ride, a family bike event sponsored by Downtown Provo, and participation in the National Bike Challenge. The committee also recognizes both summer and winter dedicated bicycle commuters at a city council presentation.
  • Successfully encouraged the City Council to adopt the Provo Bicycle Master Plan in 2013.
  • Supported the city’s plans to improve the Provo River Trail in 2018 and 2019.
  • Supported the construction of a mountain bike skills park at Slate Canyon Park. One element—a downhill course—was completed in 2017. A pump-track is planned.
  • Hosted the Utah Bicycle Summit (and Gary Fisher) in Provo in 2016.
  • Represented the bicycling community on UTA BRT stakeholder committee to ensure that bicycling and pedestrian improvements are a part of the construction of this massive transit project. This had led to improvements of the College Connector Trail, the Provo River Trail tunnel under University Parkway, the aforementioned bike-signal at 700 W/200 E, and most importantly bike lanes on University Avenue from 700 North to 600 South along the BRT route (thanks to the efforts of then Mayor Curtis). (We have also provided support for the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the tracks at the Provo Frontrunner Station.)
  • Organized since 2011 an annual Bike to School Week in the Provo School District, which involves almost all K-12 schools and local bike shops to encourage hundreds of students to ride.
  • Arranged for consulting for Provo High School and several elementary school to be rebuilt in a more bicycle friendly manner.
  • Supported BYU to become a Bicycle Friendly University (now at the bronze-level) through infrastructural improvements and programming.
  • In 2016, Bike Utah recognized the Provo Bicycle Committee with the 2016 Local Advocacy Award.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the committee over the years. History is moving in our direction. Let’s move it forward even faster.

 

Provo Bicycle Collective Invites Women to Volunteer

From BicycleCollective.org

“Bike mechanics has traditionally been a male-dominated trade. Let’s change that.

Women’s volunteer hours are designed to create a safe and inclusive space for learning bike mechanics. All bicycles repaired by volunteers are given away to people who couldn’t otherwise afford one, giving independent transportation to those who need it most. Our goal in creating this program will be reached if women feel included in our volunteer program.

We invite all women and other female-identifying people to join us during these volunteer hours to repair bikes for those in need. We need your help!

Provo Bicycle Collective gave away 408 bikes in 2017 and with your help, we will give away many more in the years to come.”

Current volunteer hours for this program are Mondays from 4pm to 7pm.   Drop in anytime during those hours to join.

Let’s Talk About Parking

Parking was a hot topic in local politics during 2017.  Some citizens feel they can never park their cars close enough to their destination.  Frustrated residents of dense neighborhoods feel they don’t have enough on-street space to park their cars.  Small business owners feel that they need more parking to attract clients.  Provo has taken a step in the right direction by hiring Matthew Taylor as the city’s parking administrator to help solve these issues.

Instead of debating these points, we’d like to point out that bicycle parking costs much less than car parking.

By choosing to ride, we decrease the need for more car parking spaces.  This means businesses and governments can spend less on parking.  What does this mean for you?  Lower prices at the grocery store, lower tuition cost, lower taxes; etc.

As demand for bike parking increases, organizations will have to invest in quality bike parking.  What makes ideal bike parking?

Along with a trusted lock, good bike parking keeps your bike safe.

A good bike racks will have the following characteristics:

Let’s all resolve to do the following to advocate for good bike parking throughout Provo:

  1. Ask for bike parking where you shop.
  2. Ask for bike parking where you work.
  3. Ask for bike parking where you live.
  4. Draw attention to businesses with attractive bike parking.

Provo Bicycle Committee Reorganized

At the Committee’s first meeting of 2018 on January 4, we reorganized the structure and elected and appointed new leadership. The most impressive ingredient of the meeting was the energy and enthusiasm. We may have had a record turn-out with no fewer than 27 attendees.

Based on the charter we adopted late last year, we elected Chris Wiltsie as the new chair and Christina Catron as secretary with Rachel Whipple as assistant secretary. Equally as important, over twenty members of the committee agreed to act as coordinators for three different kinds of projects: bikeways, events and special, and other initiatives.

Here is a list of project coordinator appointments.  If you would like to know more about or help out with a particular project, please contact the coordinator. If you are interested in serving in some capacity, please let us know.

bikeway projects

  •      Bulldog/1230 North (protected bike lanes): Aaron Skabelund
  •      BRT-related lanes and College Connector Trail: Chris Blinzinger
  •      (North) 500 West: David Harding, Shannon Bingham, Kirby Snideman, Aaron
  •      (South) 500 W (bike lanes south of I-15): Becky Hunt
  •      500 N (pedestrian issues, extension to University in 2018): Shannon Bingham
  •      Canyon Road (bike lanes in Edgemont): Stuart Withers
  •      200 E (neighborhood bikeway): Josh Cordon, Celeste Kennard, Hugh Van Wagenen
  •      800 E/450 N (neighborhood bikeway): Wayne Leavitt
  •      Tree Streets (bike route): Jamin Rowan
  •      Provo River Trail improvements: Eric Chase
  •      Dirt trails (Slate Canyon/Bonneville Shoreline Trail):
  •      Others:

events and special projects

  •      Representative to mayor’s budget review committee: Christina Catron
  •      Active Transportation Pilot: Heather Skabelund, Miles Miller
  •      Bikeway Tour (spring ride for city officials): Ted Lyon, Grant Skabelund
  •      Bike to School Week (September): Rachel Whipple
  •      Bike Month (working with Whitney Booth): Ben Mcmurry, Aaron, Austin Taylor
  •      Ride of Silence (May): Lucy Ordaz
  •      Bike map (working with City’s Phil Uhl): Sabrina Huyett, Stuart Withers
  •      Wayfinding (working with City’s Matt Taylor): Shauna Mecham, Kira Johnson, Daniel Jensen
  •      Bikeshare (working with City’s Chad Thomas): Naomi Lemoyne, Stuart Withers
  •     Golden Spoke (Winter and Summer) Bicycle Commuter Award:
  •     Freedom Festival parade:
  •     Provo Birthday Historic Homes Ride (March):
  •     Other events and special projects:

other Initiatives

  •   bikeprovo: Jamie Littlefield
  •   public relations: Austin Taylor, Kira Johnson
  •   committee traffic engineering consultant: Clancy Black
  •   committee planning consultant: Hugh Van Wagenen
  •   education: Elias Flores and Kai Cox
  •   walkability: Tinesha Zandemela, Susan Krueger-Barber
  •   bike parking: Mary Wade
  •   Bicycle Friendly Business outreach:
  •   Transportation & Mobility Advisory Committee: Grant Skabelund (will apply)
  •   Sustainability Committee: Sabrina Huyett
  •   Transit: Jacob Johnson
  •   Safe Routes to School
  •   Other initiatives:

We are confident that the committee’s new leadership and organization will help us accelerate the momentum we have to make Provo even more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Provo Bicycle Committee Charter

Here is the charter the committee adopted in late 2017 that went into effect beginning in 2018.

Provo Bicycle Committee

We are group of volunteers seeking to make bicycling an everyday part of people’s lives in our community. Recognized as the Mayor’s Provo Bicycle Committee, we work closely with representatives of city departments to accomplish this objective.

PURPOSE

The purpose of the Provo Bicycle Committee is to advance the creation of infrastructure, programs, events, and performance evaluation across Provo that enable and encourage residents of all ages and abilities to get around safely using active transportation modes (primarily bicycling and walking), as well as mass transit.

PROJECTS

This purpose will be pursued through the development and implementation of action-oriented projects that encourage local governments to increase and improve conditions for active transportation. Projects are primarily driven by needs identified by group members and may include working with resident stakeholders and reaching out to partner organizations, meetings with officials, and other coalition building exercises. The group will also monitor upcoming opportunities within Provo such as city, state, and UTA initiatives. Projects that lead to widespread citizen engagement and use tactical urbanism as a tool for effecting change are encouraged.

MEETINGS

Regular monthly meetings will be held the first Thursday of the month from 5-6 pm. (Currently we meet in the Community Development second floor conference room at 330 W. 100 S.)

At each meeting, we will have a brief handout on active projects so new participants can fit their energy into existing efforts. If members would like information about their project included, they need to send a one-paragraph update by the Monday prior to the meeting. Include a brief overview of the project, its current status, and where support is needed.

OFFICERS

Each officer shall

  • Serve a two- to three-year term or until their successors are elected
  • Be elected by majority vote via ballot by those present
  • Not serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office

Chair/Co-Chairs – Responsible for facilitating meetings and keeping the group on task

Secretary – Responsible for taking meeting minutes

Project Coordinators – Responsible for supporting campaigns, including posting petitions and updating information on the website and/or BikeProvo.org

GROUP RULES

In order to ensure this group is making positive steps forward, we have set some basic rules for how the group and meetings will operate:

Be inclusive – We want more people in Provo to be able to bike and walk safely, and to use mass transit. The more people and partners working to make this a reality, the more quickly and effectively this future can be realized.

No complaining – This group is action- and solution-oriented. You probably came to the Provo Bicycle Committee regarding a lack of infrastructure, a safety concern, or some other issue related to bicycling and/or walking. Let’s determine what the problem is, identify a solution, create a plan, and get to work.

No acronyms – In order to be inclusive, we strive to use language that supports mutual understanding between all group members and those who attend meetings.

You are responsible for the fate of your project – If you are the lead on a project, your own effort will largely dictate its success or failure. People in the group are willing to support you with expertise, connections, and strategy, but you must take ownership of your campaign.

Make a plan – A goal without a plan is just a wish. Developing a plan will allow more people to rally around your cause and increase the likelihood of your campaign’s success. A sample plan can be found in the Transportation Alternatives Activist Guide on pages 22 and 23.

Work gets done between meetings – Most of what will get accomplished will take place outside of the scheduled meetings. Time in the meetings is reserved for short updates, requests for support/guidance, and presentation of new projects. Always leave meetings with a strategy or next steps for moving your project forward.

Healthy Tension – We strive for a healthy tension with all of our projects and our work in general. This type of approach ensures that we push local communities to improve active transportation while maintaining positive relationships and fostering mutual benefit. We practice persistence and patience.

Top 5 Situations to Avoid When Cycling

Cycling is one of the safest ways to get from A to B. Not only do you reduce your environmental footprint, but it’s also a great form of exercise. Unfortunately, even the safest cyclist could be involved in a crash.  There’s no way to prevent a careless motorist, but there are some techniques you can utilize to reduce your chances of getting involved in a crash.

Situation #1: Getting Doored

This is one of the most dangerous situations for any cyclist, as there is very little time to react quickly enough to get out of the way of the motorist, and if you do swerve out of the way of a door, you may go into oncoming traffic. How can you avoid this?

You must ride at least 4’ away from any parked cars that you think may be opening their doors. If you can touch the car’s mirror, you’re too close. Obvious culprits include a line of parked cars and taxis, but you should also be cautious around any cars parked in the middle of the street with their hazards on. It’s likely they’re stopping to pick up or drop off a passenger.

Don’t be tempted to ring your bike’s bell when approaching cars. It does nothing. If a motorist hears it (they won’t), they still won’t realize that you’re behind the car in time. Fortunately, the law is on your site: In nearly every state, motorists have an obligation to check to make sure the coast is clear before opening their car doors. If you break a bone due to their carelessness, it’ll be paid for by their insurance.

Situation #2: Busses & Trucks

This isn’t a situation per se, but it’s something to look out for.  So, what can you do to avoid an incident with a bus? Never ride to the right of busses. They often pull to the side and make stops, so it’s easy for you to be sideswiped or forced onto the sidewalk, if you’re lucky.

Trucks and busses also have the issue of blind spots: They won’t see you approaching from the side as a motorist would. Finally: It’s not like our odds are great against cars, but a mash-up between a cyclist and a truck is even worse. Give them their space and stay far behind them to stay out of their blind spot.

Situation #3: The Left Cross

This collision occurs when you’re riding straight and a car turns left at an intersection. A cyclist is significantly smaller than a car, so motorists may not be as apt to see you as they would another vehicle. There are a few ways you can make yourself more visible to motorists so they won’t turn into you:

Dress appropriately and have the required reflectors and headlights on your bicycle at the very least. You can also add reflective stickers and decals to your helmet, which you should wear at all times!

Don’t pass anyone on the right. If you’re to the right of a car, another vehicle turning left will have no hope of seeing you.

Situation #4: Pedestrians

Much like trucks or busses, this is not a “situation,” itself, but pedestrians can cause a lot of trouble, especially if you live in a busy city. My commute home from work involves passing around 5,000 people, all trying to get to the major train station in the city. Pedestrians will peek out around a parked car, see there’s no other cars approaching, and step directly in front of me.

You should ride in the center of your lane whenever you’re in an area with heavy foot traffic. This way, if they “peek out” in front of cars, you won’t crash into them. If you do see someone stroll in front of you: Bells are a solid idea, and investing in a loud bell (such as a SpurCycle) may help you get your point across.

Situation #5: Potholes and Loose Gravel

As dangerous as motorists are, many crashes are caused by poor terrain or simply falling off your bike. Be sure to take note of your environment as you ride, which includes the ground as well as the other cars. Only ride roads you know well at night if you can, as it’ll be much harder to navigate. Finally, and it seems obvious, but you should only ride at a speed that’s safe for your ability. It’s possible to stay loose and ride through a monster pothole, but only if you’re riding at a safe speed.

A wealth of information, tips, and videos related to Smart Cycling can be found on the Ride Smart page on the League of American Bicyclists’ website.

 

This article was provided by www.personalinjury-law.com, an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Be sure to review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safe and legally.

The Provo Bicycle Community Welcomes Mayor Michelle Kaufusi

We’re starting off the new year by welcoming Provo’s new mayor, Michelle Kaufusi.

Last month (despite being extraordinarily busy after taking office early) Mayor Kaufusi took the time to sit down with representatives of the Provo Bicycle Committee. We’re delighted to report that she invited us to continue our role as the mayor’s official committee.

Mayor Kaufusi was particularly interested in listening to our stories and finding ways that she could best help Provo become a safer, more welcoming place to ride a bicycle or walk.

A few weeks later, we were tickled when one of the new mayor’s first videos featured her taking the lane on two wheels…

When Mayor Curtis first took office eight years ago, bicycling was almost never mentioned. Now, it’s taken seriously in Provo and throughout the state as a way to encourage quality of life, improve our air, and create great neighborhoods for our families. Mayor Curtis took bicycling into the Provo mainstream, and we have high hopes that Mayor Kaufusi will be able to make Provo one of the best cities for cycling in the West!

Welcome, Mayor Kaufusi!

Dear Mayor Curtis: We Remember

Dear Mayor Curtis,

Thank you for your (almost magical) advocacy for Provo residents who walk and ride bicycles in the city.

Eight years ago, a small group approached you and asked if they could work towards making Provo more bicycle-friendly. You invited us to become the mayor’s Provo Bicycle Committee.

Since then, you’ve worked in public and in private to make our streets safer for all road users, including kids headed to school, bicycle commuters, moms pushing strollers, and BYU students.

As you’re headed to Washington, we just wanted to let you know one thing. We remember.

Remember when you made it a priority to understand our concerns by riding your bicycle to work on Provo’s streets for 100 days in a year? We remember.

Remember when state agencies told us there was no way of getting bike lanes on University Ave? But, just before the project was finalized, the lanes showed up in the plan anyway? We remember.

Remember when you were willing to stand up (in spite of push-back) for trying new things? Like the city’s first bicycle-friendly intersection or the buffered bicycle lanes soon coming to Bulldog Boulevard? We remember.

Remember when your family rode a bicycle in the Independence Day Parade and invited community cyclists to join in the fun? We remember. 

Remember when you hosted Bike-to-School Week, Clear-the-Air Challenges, and all of the Bike-to-Work Weeks. We remember.

Remember when you always heard us out, even when we weren’t the most patient? We remember.

Remember when you took a Taco Crawl throughout downtown on a tandem? We remember.

Remember all the little and big risks you took to make streets safer for all of us? We won’t forget. 

Thank you, Mayor Curtis.

Sincerely,

So many families, students, children, seniors, and people who enjoy Provo’s streets.

UDOT Opens Active Transportation Safety Manager Position

From Bike Utah:

“UDOT recently opened this position that is primarily focused on Safe Routes to School, SNAP, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. If you know of anyone who would be a great fit for this position, please send it along to them. This is one of only four statewide people in Utah focused on AT so a great person in this position would be a huge help in moving things forward more quickly. Please share the posting. Deadline is January 3rd.”

Check out the description and apply here.