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May is Provo Bike Month 2017

May is National Bike Month and Provo is celebrating the many benefits of bicycling!

Whether you bike to work or school, ride to save money or time, pump those pedals to preserve your health or the environment, or simply to explore your community – you’re going to love the events and activities we’ve got planned. The city has put together a month full of events and activities to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride! We look forward to seeing you at:

  • Bike-to-Work Day
  • The Monday Night Ride
  • Bike-In Movie
  • The Tune-Up Clinic at the Library
  • Cyclofemme Ride
  • Overnight Ride
  • Worldwide Ride of Silence
  • Provo Bicycle Picnic
  • Fun Fun Underground Forrest Race & BBQ
  • Get-Yourself-a-Bike Sale at the Collective
  • And More!

Check out the full list of events and details on the Mayor’s blog.

Utah Valley Hospital Named Provo’s First Bicycle Friendly Business

Brad Johnson

Provo Bicycle Committee Member and UVH Employee

The League of American Bicyclists has recognized Utah Valley Hospital, Provo’s second largest employer, as a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly workplace. This award honors employers who have a strong commitment and dedication to bicycling. In order to achieve this designation, UVR was measured according to the following criteria:

  • Support local, state, and national bike advocacy
  • Offer classes on bicycle safety and maintenance
  • Share bicycling information and resources with employees and guests
  • Track data related to bicycling
  • Have dedicated staff focused on bicycle-friendly improvements
  • Be easily accessible by bike
  • Offer convenient, secure bike parking
  • Foster a positive internal bike culture
  • Celebrate Bike-to-Work Day and Bike Month

UVH’s new Employee LiVe Well Bike Locker Room is just one of ways that the hospital shows its commitment to being a bicycle-friendly employer

About the achievement, UVH administrator Scott Walker observed, “This designation and our future commitment to promoting bicycle is in perfect alignment with all of our LiVe Well efforts. In 2017, Utah Valley Hospital will actively support Provo’s Bike-To-Work Day and Bike Month. We are just laying a foundation here. As the new Utah Valley Hospital, which is currently under construction, takes shape, watch for other changes that will help us align our facilities and our culture with a two-wheeled lifestyle.”

Among these changes will be improved bicycle parking for employees and visitors, accommodating pedestrians and bicyclist through its enlarged campus, and support for the city and UDOT making the surrounding streets more bicycle-friendly.

The blue lines indicate existing bike lanes, the pink lines show planned bikeways. In the near future, UVH will be surrounded by bike lanes allowing employees, visitors, and others to safely and conveniently bike to and through the hospital campus.

UVH’s willingness to make accommodations for those who opt to bicycle make it a better employer, health care provider, and member of the community.

Do You Love Your Commute?

A 634 Mile, 5 & ½ Hour, Door-to-Door, LA to Provo Weekly Trek

by Plane, Train, and (Best of All) by Bike

Usually folks exclaim, “And you think your commute is bad!” and then explain how theirs is even worse. Rarely do they talk about how they enjoy their commute. Jenny Pulsipher, a history professor at Brigham Young University, does. She loves her commute. Well, that may an exaggeration. She loves the part of it on her 13” teal Trek FX3 commuter bicycle, which make the other modes—on a train and plane, which are more much more productive than if she were behind a steering wheel—bearable.

About five years ago, Jenny, who lived in Salt Lake at the time, began to commute daily to work by bike-train-bike. Instead of driving the 45 miles, she bicycled about a half hour from her home in Sugar House to the Salt Lake Central Station, took the Frontrunner commuter rail line to Provo, and then rode about 15 minutes up to BYU. In the afternoon, she did the reverse. (You can see scenes from that commute in this video produced by the BYU Theatre and Media Arts Department.)

Jenny explains why she started to make that commute from SLC to BYU by bike and train:

“First, wasting time drives me absolutely crazy. I was losing two hours a day to the commute to and from Salt Lake City. When I arrived at home, I was frazzled and behind in my work and still hadn’t exercised. By biking to and from the train station, I got good exercise, and I found that my time on the train was some of the most productive time of the day. It’s comfortable and quiet, and I quickly developed a pattern of spending the whole hour intently writing. I look forward to it, and I enjoy biking on either end.

Second, I hate driving. It’s either stressful, which makes me tense, or boring, which makes me fall asleep. I’d rather not die on the road (or kill someone else), so commuting seemed like a really good idea.

And third, I wanted my commute to be more green, particularly in the winter, when the inversion sets in.”

A couple of years ago, Jenny’s husband’s job took them to the City of Angels and she adapted and added a plane ride to her commute. Her commute, since last fall, is now:

  • Sunday night: Leave for Burbank airport at 3:30 PM (just 20 minutes away). Plane departs at 4:35. Arrive SLC airport at 7:30 PM, daughter or son-in-law (who live in her SLC house) pick her up and take her to her home, and then she does the bike-train-bike commute beginning Monday morning.

OR

  • Monday morning: Leave LA home between 4:30 and 4:40 AM, catch ride to Union Station, take 5:00 Flyaway Bus to LAX, catch 6:15 AM flight to SLC airport, arriving at 8:45. Take TRAX Green Line to North Temple Station, take Frontrunner to Provo, fetch bike from storage locker, bike to campus.

Each week on Tuesday and Wednesday, when she teaches or has meetings, she completes her usual commute to campus and …

… at the end of her work week on Thursday afternoon, she leaves campus, bikes to Provo Frontrunner station…

…stows her Trek in the storage locker…

 

…takes Frontrunner to the North Temple station, takes TRAX green line to airport, takes the 8:30 PM flight to the Burbank airport, takes Lyft home, arriving about 9:30 PM.

OR

…flies to LAX, takes the Flyaway Bus to Union Station, and takes Lyft home.

Door to door her commute from her home in LA to her BYU office or vice-versa isabout 634 Miles, 5 & ½ hours.

About her long(er) distance commute, Jenny observes:

“When we moved to LA, I decided to continue doing the commute to BYU. Certainly, it’s longer, but it’s still active work time for me, so long as I have my trusty foldable step stool with me. (It allows me to sit and work comfortably on the plane and train, by raising the angle of my extra-short legs to a good laptop level.) We got rid of one of our two cars when we moved to LA, which more than balances the expense of Frontrunner, bike maintenance, and even my weekly flights. We rely on bikes, walking and public transit in LA too. Living in LA is great as long as you stay off the freeway, so our one car mostly stays in the garage. My husband bikes to work, and we walk or take the Metro most places we go. It’s good exercise, and it saves us the hassle of trying to find parking (another challenge of living in LA).”

About her bike commute in Provo, Jenny says she appreciates the new bicycle-friendly intersection on 200 East across 300 South. Her previous route from the Frontrunner zigzagged through Provo using 200 West, Center Street, and University Avenue, and it had some gaps in bicycle facilities and safety. With the opening of the new intersection, Jenny has switched to a route using the much safer L-shaped route up and down 600 South and 200 East, which is being transformed into a bicycle boulevard and provides a great route between the Frontrunner Station and BYU and destinations in between.

Jenny said her favorite segment of her commute is definitely the bicycling portions. She gets some exercise, enjoys the fresh and sometimes frigid air, and relishes the more intimate interaction with her surroundings.

Jenny is not alone. Researchers at McGill University in Montreal (another place with frigid air!) found that bicycle commuters to campus were more likely to arrive on time AND be energized than people who used other modes of transportation. Many bicycle commuters will willingly share plenty of personal experiences that support such research.

So wherever you live, far or near, warm or cold, why don’t you try it? Like green eggs and ham, if you but try it, you will surely like it—anywhere and anytime.

Highlights from the 2017 Utah Bicycle Summit

On March 14, over a half dozen bicycle enthusiasts and city officials from Provo attended this year’s summit at the Marriott Ogden Courtyard, a short ride from the Ogden Frontrunner Station. The highlight of the summit was without question hearing from our own one and only Mayor John Curtis, a true bicycle enthusiast. Here are what some of the Provo participants learned:

Christopher Blinzinger

(Photo: Chris and Kendra Blinzinger on a bicycle tour of the Pacific Coast)

I attended a breakout session for the county I live in. I was impressed that UDOT is more than happy to hear and assist with enhancements for bike friendly roads. While funding is limited, UDOT asks local governments to include them in their planning because when they work together, they can incorporate enhancements into planned projects. When they are not involved with community planning, the community will either not receive assistance with their projects and have to fund 100% of that project or they will not complete that project because of lack of funding.

They are true planning partners for bike friendly communities and communities who want to become bike friendly. Additionally I saw a planner from the US Forest Service in attendance. This suggests that the USFS is may be a potential partner for bicycle accommodations in and around Forest Service properties. It is obvious that it is in the bike community’s best interest to involved. Partners in their ideas and projects to get the most bang for the buck. Great conference.

Naomi Johnson

Whether you are an engineer, a health specialist, or a bicycling enthusiast, the Utah Bike Summit has something for you! I enjoyed both the breadth of the discussions and presentations. The two things that will stick with me the most were the Mayor John Curtis’ presentation about working with elected officials and a presentation about tactical urbanism by Mike Lydon.

Mayor Curtis focused on the importance of becoming friends with public officials. Before you approach them with an idea, conduct research to find out what has been tried before. You don’t want to recommend something that was already attempted unsuccessfully! Start the conversation off by complimenting the elected and city officials for the things that they have done to help the bicycling community instead of demanding to see the changes you want. Then, clearly state the things you would like to see happen. Mayor Curtis also suggested thinking outside of the box: it’s quite likely they haven’t regularly ridden a bike since they were a teenager. Invite them to go on a bike ride or test ride a new bike from a local shop. Emphasize quality of life issues and how safer roads will strengthen the community.

Mike Lydon was the summit’s keynote speaker. He is an urban planner from New York City who specializes in “Tactical Urbanism.” This was a subject I knew very little about before the summit. Essentially, it’s a technique to make cities more people-friendly! They’ve done everything from widening bike lanes to turning parking into park space. He also talked about how typical people can get started doing projects like this. As a matter of fact, the Utah Department of Health has opened applications for a mini-grant! Is anyone else ready to apply? Let’s keep changing Provo! Bike on!

Austin Taylor

The Utah Bike Summit 2017 was a great reminder of why we advocate for cycling. It’s always reassuring to see changemakers come together to share strategies and partner up to make Utah a more bikeable state. My favorite part was hearing from Carlos Braceras, Director of UDOT. He shared with us a story of retrieving the bike he had as a kid at his mother’s house when she passed away not long ago. He shipped it home and restored it because of how much it meant to him; he even tried to convince his wife to let him hang it on the living room wall – to no avail.

He then proceeded to update us on some UDOT projects and told us how now 9 out of 10 people in Utah live in an urban environment, making biking, walking, and transit ideal modes of transportation. In 35 years, Utah’s population will likely double and Carlos assured us he’s not hoping our miles of road will.

Above all, I’m pleased to see that many are rallying for the cause. Mayor Curtis once told me that we have a winning cause, and I’m happy to be on the winning team fighting for active transportation.

Aaron Skabelund

Three things stood out for me:

  • UDOT, from its top echelons to its regional offices, is an agent of bicycle-friendly change. UDOT Director Braceras’ presentation and the breakout sessions in which each regional office met with its local partners amply illustrated that. Much of the talk the Region Three session was about how their team has very effectively worked with Provo officials and advocates on projects such as the North University buffered bike lanes and 300 South bike lanes and bike-friendly intersection. More projects like the Bulldog Blvd protected bike lanes (2018), the Provo River Trail extension (2019), and bikes lanes on 500 West/State Street (2019?) are in the pipeline thanks to this partnership.
  • Provo is regarded as a model. Braceras gave a shot out to Mayor Curtis as a “visionary” for his support of active transportation and transit. And the room was packed for Mayor Curtis’ presentation.

Photos courtesy of David Iltis/cyclingutah.com

  • Public outreach in the form of tactical urbanist demonstrations should be a part of very major active transportation project to educate and build support for change. After Mike Lydon’s keynote, the Utah Department of Health announced a mini-grant opportunity to engage the public with new active transportation ideas. The Provo Bicycle Committee plans on applying for one of these to use for a project already in the works or for another one we would like to see happen in the next few years.

In short, the summit offered lots of ideas to put into practice to make Provo and Utah County an even better place to live.

UDOT Brings Buffered Bike Lanes to North University Avenue and Beyond

by Aaron Skabelund, Provo Bicycle Committee Chair

Late last fall, UDOT dramatically transformed North University Avenue by installing bike lanes—almost of all buffered—from 700 North to 5200 North, where they connect to the Provo River Trail on the north end of the Riverwoods near the mouth of Provo Canyon.

Here is what they look like from a drone.

A photo taken last November of the new buffered bicycle lanes across from the Riverwoods. UDOT soon thereafter installed “no parking” signs so bicyclists like the one pictured no longer have to go around cars parked in the lane.

In total, UDOT added 3.27 miles of buffered bike lanes in each direction, or 6.54 total miles. These are the first buffered bike lanes on a state route in Utah. They also added .88 miles in each direction, or 1.76 total miles of standard bike lanes on the south end from 700 North to University Parkway, where a lack of width and too many driveways did not allow for buffered bike lanes. They posted over 112 signs along the route—from “No Parking” to “Bike Lane” signs—and in addition to the lines, painted many bike markers on University and at every cross street with traffic lights on that section to signal to bicyclists that the overhead radar will detect them at those intersections.

Here are some of those markers:

And in more detail. The third marker is one of those as a cross street, in this case at Bulldog.

“The University Avenue project came about because we knew that many people use it to gain access to Provo Canyon,” observed UDOT’s Matt Parker. “We realized that there are different users and that many people do not want to mix with pedestrians on the Provo River Trail as it is dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists if the cyclists are moving very fast. Those who ride on the road are the ones that would not be comfortable on the trail and we saw many people riding on the road with no bike lanes. Obviously something needed to be done to ensure that all users could use the facility safely.”

What is even more exciting than these lanes on North University is that this is not a one-time move by UDOT but part of a trend and emblematic of a change in UDOT’s culture. Several years ago, UDOT Regional Offices began to form active transportation committees. The committee of the Region 3 Office, which oversees the 6 counties of Utah, Wasatch, Juab, Duchesne, Uintah and Daggett, is led by Parker. The committee referenced the Utah Collaborative Active Transportation Study (UCATS) map and coordinated with Mountainland Association of Governments (MAG) on the existing infrastructure. They looked at existing gaps in the infrastructure and tried to start filling those gaps with recommended projects. They validated that information by asking those who ride and are employed by UDOT, discussing the projects with MAG and cities in Utah County.

In short, as UDOT Deputy Director Shane Marshall emphatically declared at last year’s Utah Bike Summit last year, UDOT is transforming itself into a department of transportation rather than a department of roads. UDOT and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognize that transportation is moving people, not just vehicles/cars. Parker’s role in Region 3 is to ensure that UDOT spend its resources. “If we can get more people using other forms of transportation,” Parker recognizes, “we can move more people more efficiently. I am an avid cyclist and would—like many people—ride my bike more if we had better infrastructure that ensured our safety.”

Here is a big shout out to UDOT leadership—from Director Carlos Braceras and Marshall at the top to Region 3 Director Teri Newell, Parker, and their team in Orem. Thanks also to Mayor Curtis and Public Works for their support of this project.

We look forward to more projects in the near future. This summer, Parker reports, bike lanes will go down on Geneva Road between University Parkway and 400 North in Orem. And of course, as part of the BRT project, the lanes on University Avenue will be extended south from 700 North to 600 South. Elsewhere in Provo, UDOT is looking to put in lanes on State Street (500 West) and to close existing gaps in the bikeway network. UDOT’s dramatic transformation and bike-friendly policies almost have us wishing there were more state roads in Provo.

ACTION ALERT: Take This Survey About Provo River Trail Improvements

Help improve the Provo River Trail by taking this short online survey.

Thanks to the RAP tax, some major (and greatly needed) improvements are coming to our beloved trail. The Provo Parks Department is committed to doing it right and have funds to do some amazing things so please share your ideas, big or small.

Resident feedback plays a HUGE role in projects like this, so please take the survey and share it with your like-minded friends.

Provo Awarded Silver Recognition from League of American Cyclists

by Aaron Skabelund, Provo Bicycle Committee Chair

This month, the League of American Bicyclists announced that Provo has improved its ranking as a Bicycle Friendly Community to silver up from bronze, which we achieved four years ago. Of the 103 communities recognized in this round, Provo was just one of four to move up in rank. Provo now ranks among around 100 communities ranked at the platinum (5), gold (25), and silver (about 70) level.

Notably the League highlighted the leadership of Mayor John Curtis and the advocacy of our committee in its press release:

“Several communities stood out for the on-bike examples of their mayors and for their recognition of how bicycling can bring people together. Provo, UT, moved from a Bronze to a Silver award. Mayor John Curtis has become an avid road cyclist and a regular bike commuter since he was elected mayor — committing to ride 100 days during the year. Through his commitment and the efforts of the Provo Bicycle Committee, there has been a sharp increase in political and community support of bicycling in Provo.”

In the coming weeks, I will share some of the feedback we received from the League about how we can continue to make Provo even more bicycle-friendly, but for now let’s celebrate this recognition and thank everyone who helped make Provo a better place to live, beginning with Mayor Curtis and the folks in Public Works, Community Development, Parks, and the Police Department, as well as you, the members of the Provo Bicycle Committee!

Big Improvements Coming to the Provo River Trail

Thanks to the passing of the RAP (recreation, arts, and parks) tax, Provo will soon be seeing some much-needed improvements to the southern portion of the Provo River Trail (headed towards Utah Lake).

Those of us who ride the trail regularly are likely to have a long list of trail wishes – improving safety, increasing visibility, reducing blind corners…

What would you like to see? Start thinking now so you can weigh in with the city when the time is right.

If you’re not sure, hop on your bicycle and ride the Provo River Parkway down to Utah Lake. It’s a GORGEOUS ride right now, with tunnels of shimmering golden leaves and even jack-o’-lanterns shining from the shore near the ropes course.

Image: Mariott

Introducing Provo’s New Bikeway: The Lakeview Parkway Trail

A short photo essay by Joli Hunt, who regularly bikes to school and work along 500 West and hopes the day it will be striped with bike lanes is not too far away.

Have you had a chance yet to bike on Provo newest trail? It’s all the rave for us who live near south 500 West and anyone else living in southwest Provo. It can be enjoyed, however, by those far and near. The 3.7 mile-long Lakeview Parkway and Trail that runs parallel to the road on its south side stretches from I-15 to the Provo Municipal Airport and has access points at 1860 South (via the walkway that crosses at I-15 from the East Bay Technology Park), 500 West, 1100 West, and 3110 West near the airport.

Exciting, right? The trail makes possible riding on the edge of southwest Provo and opens up some wonderful vistas of the surrounding fields, and as the name indicates, views of the lake, and mountains in the distance. On both sides you can see fields and pastures where ranchers and livestock, farmer and their crops have been contributing to Utah’s food supply for many generations.

Thanks to Mayor Curtis and other city officials who insisted that this separated multi-use trail be built as part of the road project. The trail is a wonderful amenity and helps to improve the quality of life of all Provo residents, especially those who live nearby in southwest Provo. I hope access to the trail is made safer with the creation of bike lanes on 500 West.

Looking west along the trail near 500 West. Notice the parking lot on the right side where you drive and then bike from if you live too far way to bicycle from. Parking is found in multiple places along the road where you can park your car and the bike or walk along the multi-use path.  Read more

Volunteer to Construct Slate Canyon Mountain Bike Skills Course

Hurrah! The new Slate Canyon Mountain Bike Course is starting to take shape.

And, your help is needed.

Be a part of Provo mountain biking history by volunteering to haul, dig, and help create the course. Email your name, phone number, and email address to jamielittlefield at gmail, and I’ll pass your info on to the organizers.

Big thanks to Parks & Rec and all the willing volunteers.