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Provo Bicycle Committee Presents to Provo City Council

On January 19, the Provo Bicycle Committee presented to the city council during its work session.

In case you didn’t catch it, the highlights were:

– We thanked the council and administration for their support to make Provo more bicycle friendly.

– We offered to periodically have the committee report to the council and/or to TMAC.

– We emphasized that our efforts to make Provo bicycle friendly are fundamentally about improving the Provo’s quality of life.

– We noted the specific quality of life benefits of being bicycle friendly: reducing air pollution; reducing congestion and parking pressures; calming traffic; boosting economic vibrancy and making it easier for employers to recruit and retain highly educated, tech savvy employees, especially millennials, by providing residents with transportation options; and encouraging active lifestyles that improve the health and happiness of the community.

– We provided an overview of the accomplishments of the bicycle community last year, and encouraged Provo to send a delegation to Fort Collins, a platinum-level bicycle-friendly city that Provo could learn a lot from not just in terms of bicycling, but also in terms of parking, transit (BRT), and other quality of life issues.

– We also encouraged the city to support more tactical urbanist events like the one held in the Joaquin Neighborhood last June.

– Finally, we urged the council to do three specific things to more aggressively implement the Bicycle Master Plan and improve Provo’s quality of life.

1. Adopt complete streets as an official policy in the form of a intent statement.

2. Support the creation of a city bicycle coordinator position. (Fort Collins has had one since 1995, and Salt Lake and Ogden do as well.)

3. Support the allocation of dedicated funding for the construction of bicycling and pedestrian infrastructural improvements. This will help engineering go beyond making small incremental

2016 Canyon Bicycles’ Golden Spoke Winter Bicycle Commuter Award

For the last five years, the Provo Bicycle Committee has recognized a dedicated bicycle commuter with Golden Spoke Award at the annual Mayor’s Bike to Work Day in May. Starting last year, to remind folks that we can commute to work and school by bicycle all year round, even in the dead of winter, the Committee inaugurated the Golden Spoke Winter Bicycle Commuter Award, and Canyon Bicycles has kindly acted as the sponsor for the winter award.

Last year, the committee recognized Lexi Williamson, a BYU student who lives on the west side and commutes to campus year round by bicycle.

This year, we would again like to recognize another west-sider. To introduce his story take a look at this short clip from KSL news that was broadcast last April.

In the report, Stan says “I have fallen in love with bike riding. I ride a lot—good weather, bad weather.” You may have also noticed him wearing Adobe bike shorts.

His wife Becky shared with us the following:

“When he made the goal to lose 100 pounds, he was already in the habit of using Frontrunner to get to work at Adobe, but he started riding his bike to get to the Orem train station and then from the Lehi station up the hill to the Adobe building. At first he biked two or three times a week but before long it was every day. He didn’t commute that first winter but he has ever since. He’s pretty stubborn about riding regardless of the weather.

At first he always rode to the Orem station but after several months changed to the Provo station. It’s a little bit farther and but it’s a safer route because going to Orem he would be on Geneva Road. [BTW, the two roads Stan would like Provo to make safer for bicyclists are Geneva and 900 East.] At first he used the Lehi station exclusively but now he usually rides to the American Fork station at the end of his workday, just to get more miles in (and to lose more weight.) Through most of the summer, he would ride from Lehi all the way home (26 miles) every Friday. In 2015, Stan rode just shy of 7000 miles, both through commuting and recreationally.”

Becky continued by writing, “Adobe pays for their employee’s Frontrunner passes. This made all the difference in his decision to ride his bike to work. Otherwise, it would have been rather expensive, and it’s hard to say if he would’ve developed the habit of using Frontunner. Adobe’s commuter check program–the biking incentive program–pays him $20 per month which is very nice. Stan says he would commute anyway, even without that incentive, because he likes it. I think though, that this commuter check program has had an indirect effect as well: Adobe has a cycling community and that it makes a difference when you have buddies at work that you share bike riding stories with.

In conclusion, Becky wrote, “It is probably not exaggerating to say that bicycle commuting has saved Stan’s life. Losing weight has increased the quality of his life immeasurably. The key to his successful weight loss has been consistency, and that consistency has been facilitated by combining his exercise with his commute to work. He’s in the best shape of his adult life. He loves to get out in the fresh air every single day”—even in the dead of winter.

Congratulations to Stan Paulson, the recipient of the 2016 Canyon Bicycles’ Golden Spoke Winter Commuter Award! I hope Provo residents will emulate Stan, and employers—including Provo City—will emulate Adobe by offering their employees incentives to use active transportation and improve their health and lives. It is a pleasure to present this award to Stan today, which happens to his and Becky’s 25th wedding anniversary. Congratulations!

Check out more about Stan from the Adobe blog.

A Look Back: “2015 The Best Year for Bicycling in Provo (Yet)”

from Aaron Skabelund, Provo Bicycle Committee Chair

When the Provo Bicycle Committee came up with the slogan, “2015: The Best Year for Bicycling in Provo (Yet),” we had no idea it would be such a good year. Here is a look back (with links) of how 2015 exceeded all expectations and advanced the goal of making Provo a more bicycle-friendly community and great bike town.

After several years of presenting a Mad Dog Bicycle’s Cycles’ Bicycle Commuter Golden Spoke Award at the Mayor’s Bike to Work Ride in May, the Committee presented its first ever Canyon Bicycles’ Winter Bicycle Commuter Golden Spoke Award to Lexi Williamson at a city council meeting in January. Look for this 2016 honoree later this month.

In the months that followed the Committee arranged for Provo School District to obtain Mountainland Association of Government funding to receive consulting from Alta Planning + Design of how to make the new schools it is building bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

In May, Provo hosted the Utah Bike Summit (and mountain bike pioneer and keynote speaker Gary Fisher) for the first time ever. The summit had its biggest turnout ever. Check out this news broadcast video and the mayor’s welcome video to summit attendees.

Early that month, Provo also hosted 50 transportation planners and engineers from along the Wasatch Front for a Bike Utah Mobility Active Transportation Tour and showed off Provo’s (and BYU’s) bikeways.

The Committee expanded what was once Bike to Work Day and Bike to Work Week into Bike Month for the first time in 2015. In addition to the Mayor’s Bike to Work Event, we helped organize multiple rides, the third-annual Bike Prom sponsored by the Department of Recreation, the Mayor’s Provo Bike Challenge, and the International Ride of Silence and Douglas Crow Memorial Dedication to honor bicyclists who have killed or injured including one of our own in 2013. (In November, Committee members played a central role in organizing a Ride of Silence for Stacy Bown, an Orem bicyclist who died after she and her husband were struck by a car while crossing University Parkway. That ride has led to formation of the Orem Bicycle Committee in 2016.)

Rainstorm after rainstorm delayed another event that was to be held in May–the Complete the Street 200 East Tactical Urbanism Party. But residents of the Joaquin Neighborhood who took the lead in organizing the event could not be denied. In early June, they made temporary changes to three blocks of the street, included bike sharrow markings and other traffic calming elements, to build support for its transformation into a Neighborhood Greenway that will run from 800 North to 600 South. Watch for another such event somewhere else in Provo in 2016.

On July 4th, the Committee was honored to bicycle with Mayor Curtis down University Avenue in the Freedom Festival Parade.

In August, Mayor Curtis made the epic announcement that protected bike lanes are coming to Bulldog Boulevard. The project–planned for 2017–will not only transform what is now one of the most dangerous streets for bicyclists (and pedestrians), but it will also build support for similar changes elsewhere in Provo.

Even more unexpected was the mayor’s announcement in September that bike lanes would be included on downtown University Avenue as part of the construction of Bus Rapid Transit, for which work will start this spring. Thanks to Mayor Curtis in his negotiations with UDOT for reviving a goal that the Committee had fought hard for years ago and given up on, and ensuring that this stretch of the downtown will become a complete, multi-modal street.

Also in September, the Committee organized the Fifth Annual Bike to School Week encouraging hundreds of K-12 students to get to and from school using the most efficient form of locomotion. This year Rock Canyon Elementary had the greatest number of bicyclists and received the Rad Rider’s Award from Mayor Curtis. Thanks to all of Provo’s bike shops for their support of Bike to School Week. We could not do it without them.

In October, the League of American Bicyclists recognized BYU as a bronze-level bicycle friendly university, which led the administration to turn what had been an ad hoc, unofficial Campus Bicycle Committee into an official university committee from 2016.

In November, Provo residents elected David Harding, a year-round bicycle commuter (from the Dixon Neighborhood to his workplace in Orem) whom the Mayor presented the Golden Spoke Award in 2014, and David Knecht and George Stewart, who have also indicated their support for a more bicycle-friendly community, to the city council, and passed a RAP tax, which will help fund dramatic improvements to the Provo River Trail, the city’s most popular park, starting this year.

And all year long, the Provo Bicycle Collective has served as an invaluable resource for the bicycling community. Thanks to the efforts of its new manager Austin Taylor and many volunteers, the Collective is thriving as never before.

Wow, what a great year! 2015 was the best year for bicycling yet. Even better things are to come. Please join us in helping them come to pass.

Transportation and Community Planning Open House October 29th

Head on over to the Transportation and Community Open House on October 29th to learn about what county and state agencies are planning for Utah County – and share your own ideas.

Can’t make the meeting? Check out their Virtual Open House online right now at Mountainland.org/openhouse and be sure to check out their planned Bike / Ped projects.

Why UTA Needs to Do Something About the Provo FrontRunner Ped / Bike Overpass Now

Marooned at the Provo FrontRunner Station, People Are Climbing Over Freight Trains and Jumping Onto the Tracks…Here’s How This Dangerous Problem Can Be Fixed

Anyone that uses the Provo FrontRunner station regularly is aware of this problem: freight trains regularly sit on the tracks, blocking every North / South intersection that could be used to get to the FrontRunner Station.

Commuters often arrive early, watch their FrontRunner train pull into the station, wait for 15 minutes, and watch their train pull away without them. All while blocked by the freight trains.

Some Provo residents simply avoid taking the train because of the unpredictability of a blocked route to the station. Others have become frighteningly comfortable with climbing over the freight trains in business attire, hoisting their bicycles over the non-moving trains, and even passing young children in between train cars. What’s worse is that many times people are climbing over the freight trains and jumping onto active tracks – unaware that another freight train may be headed their way.

Why Hasn’t UTA Taken Care of This Before? How Can They Pay for It?

The big reason that UTA hasn’t taken care of this problem seems to be cost. A pedestrian / bicycle bridge to the station would be somewhat expensive.

However, precautions have been taken at many other stations to provide safe passage and Provo should be no different. Here’s a Farmington overpass, for example:

One way that UTA could fund an overpass would be to use Prop 1 funds if voters pass the initiative in November. At a recent meeting, UTA representatives said that their priority would likely be to spend the funds on extending service on bus routes unless they heard otherwise from Provo residents. And, as you’ll see below, Provo residents have been pretty loud and clear about the need for the overpass.

If Prop 1 passes, expenses could conceivably be shared between UTA, the city, and the county (each entity receiving a portion of the funds). However, this should be a UTA priority no matter how the vote goes.

Yeah, But Why Don’t People Just Cross at University Ave?

When freight trains are blocking the FrontRunner station, people who live one block from the station are actually living one block PLUS a half mile walk up a dangerous auto-bridge. Take a look at the route (and note how people have to make a long North-South loop just to get on the bridge):

When freight trains are stopped in front of the station, generally all other crossings on that stretch are also blocked. Getting to the University Ave. overpass may be a few minutes of annoyance in a car. But, on foot or by bike, it is too far. Trying to get to the station with kids or in business dress (heels…yikes) by walking an extra half mile is an obstacle that stops a lot of people from feeling that the FrontRunner is a consistent, reliable alternative.

One of UTA’s goals is to reduce the first mile / last mile problem – the problem that many people don’t use public transportation because they don’t have an accessible way to reach it without walking a mile there or walking a mile from transportation to their destination. Reducing the extra half mile that is added when people have to walk to the University Ave. overpass will be an excellent step towards that goal.

It’s also important to note that the sidewalks on the University Ave. auto-bridge are extremely narrow. Two people passing each other is awkward and even dangerous when one steps out into traffic, not to mention bikes or strollers trying to navigate the area. (Even getting on the bridge as a pedestrian takes an act of courage as its entrance is marooned in the middle of the street with road on both sides and no crosswalks).

Where Would a Provo FrontRunner Overpass Go?

UTA would have to work with the city to figure this out. An ideal location would be 600 South and 100 West. 600 South and Freedom Blvd. could also work.

Take a look at this awesome rendering of a Provo ped / bike bridge from Urban Design Associates working with the Giv Group:

Is There Public Support for a FrontRunner Overpass?

Absolutely. Just about anyone that uses FrontRunner regularly will have stories about jumping over stagnant freight trains or seeing other people do so. Here are some of the write-in responses Provo residents gave to UTA regarding funding priorities:

“The main thing Provo needs is a way for people to get to the train at the University Avenue station. Regularly there are freight trains stopped for long periods of time and pedestrians sometimes jump between cars to get to the station. (Super dangerous) but the only alternative is to miss the train because there is no pedestrian bridge over the freight tracks.”

“I see a need for a pedestrian bridge at the FrontRunner stop @Provo station both for safety and practicality. My home overlooks the tracks. At least once a week I see some kid risk too much trying to beat the train on foot or bike. I am a big believer in public transportation, I specifically choose to live here so I can go without a car. The footbridge would make commuting much easier, not only for me, but also for the growing number of people I see drive their bikes to the station. A pedestrian overpath would allow people to ride or carry their bikes easily without having to wait in the elements at the crossroad where trains frequently block commuters.”

“I travel with my disabled, wheelchair bound son daily on the FrontRunner from Provo to Murray and I am often concerned about safety, especially surrounding the Provo station. Frequently we have issues of his wheelchair wheels getting caught in the tracks. We also encounter missing the train due to other lines long haul trains maneuvering and stopping on the tracks next to the FrontRunner line. It would be most useful to us and many others if some sort of wheelchair and pedestrian accessible bridge or tunnel could be built at the Provo station.”

“Please build a bridge at the Provo FrontRunner station so that people crossing the cargo train tracks don’t miss their FrontRunner train!”

“The Provo FrontRunner station is sometimes difficult to get to when blocked by freight, and this is causing both delays and a dangerous situation because people are climbing over the trains. Most of Provo lives north of the tracks, and people walking or driving are more likely to cross the tracks at Freedom Blvd. than University Avenue.”

“There NEEDS to be a pedestrian bridge put in place at the Provo stop. Too many times I have been stopped by the Pacific Union train and even though it stops, myself and many patrons have to climb up and over the train to get to the front runner. It’s absolutely absurd. This really isn’t something that is for convenience…it is a safety necessity. For those of us that ride daily and rely on this daily, we need a walkway or a bridge for bikes/ped crossing.”

LEFT: the train station people need to get to RIGHT: downtown Provo, where most people are headed CENTER: freight trains blocking the crossing
LEFT: the train station people need to get to RIGHT: downtown Provo, where most people are headed CENTER: freight trains blocking the crossing

“We need a pedestrian bridge over the tracks at 600 S in Provo so people can get to the bus station easier, a lot of times the road is blocked by Union Pacific trains.”

“I have missed the FrontRunner on my way to work multiple times because another train has been sitting on the tracks at the Provo station. I was waiting with about 8 other people. I left and came back hoping the train would have moved in half an hour, but it hadn’t and I missed the next train, too. I ended up being an hour late to work. There needs to be a pedestrian bridge over those tracks so people can get to the FrontRunner when other trains are in the way. I was tempted to climb over the connection between cars because the train blocking our way wasn’t even moving.”

“An overpass to the Provo Station for bikes and pedestrians when the tracks are blocked by Union Station trains. I’ve missed the train often, even when leaving early enough to get to the station ten to twenty minutes before the train is supposed to depart.”

“I love the Provo center station, but it is so hard to get to if you are not in a car. We desperately need a new pedestrian solution–a bridge/flyover or something that would make it possible to walk from the station to Center Street.”

“We desperately need a pedestrian/bike overpass to the Provo FrontRunner Station. It is incredibly dangerous with the Union Pacific tracks there and more could be done to make the station pedestrian accessible.”

“I think UTA should build pedestrian bridges at select FrontRunner stations (i.e. Provo) to pass over UP trains, it’s irritating missing a train when the Freedom Blvd crossing is blocked.”

What Can Provo Residents Do?

There’s clearly an outpouring of support for an overpass. You can check out their survey to read even more responses. Please help get the word out by sharing this info however you can. Please also consider submitting your own survey answers and help us work together with UTA, Provo City, and the county to take care of this long overdue problem.

Thanks to Chloe Jensen, Paige Marie Pitcher, and Karen Tapahe for the photos and videos of people stuck behind and climbing over trains. Thanks to Urban Design Associates working with the Giv Group for the artistic rendering of a potential ped / bike overpass.

Find Out What Provo City Council Candidates Think About Bicycles: Who Will You Vote for Nov. 3rd?

One of the best ways to make a difference for safe streets in Provo is to vote for city council candidates who are dedicated to neighborhoods that work for pedestrians and bicyclists. All registered voters in Provo will have a chance to vote for city council candidates on November 3rd, 2015. Not sure about voting? You can find out how to register here. Find your polling place here. And, watch more in-depth candidate videos here.

Huge kuddos to the candidates who responded to our four bicycle survey questions (posted here with a bit more context). Many of the candidates were also able to make it out to October’s Provo Bicycle Committee meeting, where they introduced themselves and saw a bit of what is happening with bikes in Provo. Please check out the survey questions below and share them with your Provo neighbors and friends interested in safer streets.

City-Wide Provo City Council Candidates

Everyone that votes in Provo can vote for one of these candidates, no matter where you live.

George Stewart

georgestewart.net

Carina Wytiaz

carinaforcouncil.com

Would you be willing to sponsor or support a “Complete Streets” bill for Provo? I am completely in favor of making Provo and its streets more bicycle friendly but I cannot commit to sponsor or support a bill I have not seen or reviewed. I would be willing to support the concepts you described that would be part of a *Complete Streets” policy. I would. My understanding is that the city is already doing this even without the legislation that requires it. I believe that it makes sense to consider the needs of all types of transportation as we design our infrastructure. That being said, I will always be reasonable about supporting changes. They need to make sense but I believe that more often than not, complete streets are wise investments.
Would you be in favor of including active transportation (infrastructure for biking / walking) as a line item in the city budget? I would be in favor of funding Items that would promote a more bicycle friendly Provo but not knowing what would be in an “Active Transportation” line item I cannot comment on that issue. I am in favor of including active transportation as a line item in the city budget. That does not mean that I am in favor of increasing the budget, but I would support moving funds from other transportation line items to a line item that supports active transportation. For example, I would take a hard look at the Utility Transportation Fund to see if it makes sense to reprogram some of those dollars to a line item for active transportation.
If you are elected, what can Provo bicycle advocates (including the Provo Bicycle Committee, the Provo Bicycle Collective, and bicyclists across the city) do to best help you jump in and feel confident in joining the ongoing discussion about making Provo more bicycle-friendly? As stated above I am in favor of making Provo more bicycle friendly and would be willing to join any discussion or help any group that would help achieve that goal. I love everything that is happening in Provo. I am running to keep the momentum that we have going. I love that we have a group of people in Provo who care so passionately about making it better and I consider myself one of those people. I can’t know everything, so I depend on citizens telling me what they find important. As a city-wide candidate, my job is to represent all the people of Provo so I am committed to listening with an open mind. What will be most helpful to me is if you and the other members of the community take me up on that. Tell me what you want to see in Provo. Share your great ideas with me. Let’s work together to keep things moving in the right direction.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you and your experiences or positions related to bicycling? As I told you while attending your meeting, my complete mobility as a youth and young teenager depended on my bicycle as my Mother did not drive and my Father traveled in his work as an attorney for the Veterans Adm. I also was a bicycle newspaper carrier. I’m committed to foresight in transportation, and that includes planning for a city that is friendly to more transportation alternatives, like bicycles. I’ve lived in different areas of the world, including in several European countries, where bicycles are more commonly used for every day errands. If we can plan now for a city that embraces bicycling through planning and commitment, it will mean better air, healthier transport, and options as we significantly grow our population.

Keep reading to find out about district-wide races… Read more

ACTION ALERT: Please Talk to UTA TODAY!

Here are three things we learned from  yesterday’s UTA open house regarding Prop 1:

  1. UTA reps were surprised that very few people from Provo showed up. (There was a lot going on politically that particular night, but they aren’t connected to that). They noted that, in contrast, Lehi packed the house.
  2. Reps said they hadn’t thought of using some of the Prop 1 funds for a ped / bike overpass to the FrontRunner station. In fact, while an overpass had been previously considered as a possibility for a past project, they seemed unaware of how many people in Provo are jumping over the Union Pacific trains to get to the station or go about their usual business.
  3. UTA reps said that if what Provo really wanted was an overpass to the station, we should prove it by encouraging people to fill out the online survey, noting this in the final fill-in-the-blank question. Otherwise, their priority for Provo is likely to be spending more on bus frequency.

If you want to help us get an overpass, now is the time to act. Please fill out this online survey today. And, if you didn’t go to the open house yesterday, please consider going to the open house tonight Thursday Oct. 8th from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Provo Station, 690 S. University Ave.