Last weekend, many Provo cyclists, employees, and city officials headed down to the University of Utah for the 2014 Utah Bike Summit. We were inspired by the speakers and the collective enthusiasm of a talented group that is working to “make Utah the most bicycle-friendly state in the U.S.”
We have a long way to go, but there has been a palpable shift in attitudes towards biking and walking the state level…and a surprising number of projects are in the works. From Provo’s end, Deputy Mayor Dixon Holmes and Bike Committee Chair Aaron Skabelund manned a table about the shiny new Provo Bicycle Plan (woot!).
Here’s the low down of what happened during this all-day conference and what Provo cyclists can take away from this meeting of minds:
On the Need for Cyclists to Speak Up – Ralph Becker (Mayor of Salt Lake City)
Mayor Becker spoke about the many bicycling projects going on in Salt Lake. He particularly focused on the need for cyclists to SPEAK UP. When it comes to bike lanes, it’s hard for city council members to make a decision when there is opposition from people that are concerned about change. By coming to the table and weighing in on these issues, cyclists can make things happen. (We’ve seen this happen in Provo too…the more people that are talking to their council members about these issues, the more we’re able to accomplish).
Mayor Becker also commented on the huge success of the Salt Lake bikeshare program, GreenBike. So far, it is considered to be the most successful program for a city of that size and has been able to operate with 70% funding from the private sector. Way to go GreenBike!
The Power of the Pedal – Sarai Snyder (Founder of Cyclofemme Ride and the Girl Bike Love Website)
Provo cyclists were particularly excited to hear from Sarai, since Provo will be hosting its first Cyclofemme Ride on May 10th. Sarai focused on the transformative power of bicycling and her efforts to encourage more women to ride by creating the Cyclofemme event. In particular, she pointed out that we focus too much on the challenges of cycling and the potential dangers – in ways that scare off some beginning cyclists. Sarai encouraged us to tell “really great stories” about our own experiences cycling rather than focusing only on problems. The Cyclofemme ride will encourage bicyclists of all levels to “Come Ride with Us.”
Sarai gave a special shout out to the upcoming Provo Cyclofemme Ride and, after the presentation, several of the women from our group were able to meet her and talk about what is happening in Provo.
UDOT & MPO Updates – State and Regional Transportation Representatives
While cyclists have sometimes struggled with state agencies, there is a noticeable shift in attitudes towards complete streets. Andrew Gruber, Executive Director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council specifically noted that UDOT is “changing direction.” Both UDOT and regional representatives discussed an increased commitment to what they are calling “active transportation” (basically, walking or bicycling). And, they backed up their words by sharing recently completed projects and projects in-the-works.
UDOT has added over 500 bike signal detectors (those fantastic little systems that let traffic lights recognize waiting cyclists…so you don’t end up with a 20-minute red light during off-peak hours). They’ve also been changing the way they do chip seals and rumble strips to work with the way cyclists ride. The state is working on a number of projects that we will post about on the blog in the near future. UDOT representatives stressed that having a plan in place is the most important thing cities can do to help the state take action (good thing Provo’s Bike Plan just passed…)
The new UDOT Traffic App will allow us to check for bike routes and routes that have shoulders over 4-feet wide on any state-owned road. We can also use the UDOT See, Click, Fix App to report problems we encounter on the road.
Jim Price from the Mountainlands Association of Governments (the county representative over our area) discussed the grants that were awarded to help Provo and other valley cities complete their bicycle plans. Jim stressed that MAG has an “Aftercare Program” to help cities implement the plans they’ve created – something that Provo will likely benefit from. He also reported progress (more detail on these in later posts) on the Spanish Fork River Trail, the Mapleton Lateral Canal Trail, and the Murdock to Jordan River Trail. Most significantly, he announced the completion of the Provo River Trail to Murdock Canal Trail connection. Horary! Continue reading