Yesterday marked the first day of the first annual Utah Bicycle Summit. There is a lot to go over so lets jump right in.
We took Trax into Salt Lake and the bicycle advocacy issues arose before we even got to the summit. We loaded our bicycles onto the train and began to read the rules of having your bicycle on the train, they are as follows,
As you can see not only are these rules not very bicycle friendly they are also impractical for more than one cyclist to have a bicycle on the train at a time (as this violates rule 2). We found the bicycle facilities on the train to be uncomfortable and very un-accommodating to cyclist and their bikes. This however will have to be a topic for another post, as I said we have a lot of ground to cover. (Sorry for some stock images I did not get any good pictures of some of the speakers.)
We showed up early got signed in and helped a bit with set up. Once things got started we all sat down to hear a welcome from the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker who we know to be very bicycle friendly.
Mayor Becker kicked things off with some thank you’s and some awesome statistics. Since his time as Mayor he has increased bicycle spending by 10 fold, implemented 38 miles of bicycle trails just last year, and is shooting for that same growth this coming year. He said that Salt Lake now has two full time people looking at places for bike lanes, and evaluating bikeability in the city. He said that bicycles are “…critical and integral part of our transportation plans…”. His reasons for this were pretty clear bicycles help with three major concerns for any cityâ€ air quality, congestion, and individual health…”, as well as bicycles being an “integral part to having high quality communities.” He then went on to say that Utah especially Salt Lake area and Utah Valley are relatively flat and calm weather areas that could see a lot more growth. He then challenged us all to ride more by stating that Minneapolis, which has notoriously nasty winters, has a higher rider percentage that Utah does. His closing comments said that there are people who are worried about the spending that it is going on so it is our duty as riders and advocates to make our voice heard and to be able to back that voice up with action and information.
All and all he had a lot of great things to say mainly focusing around Salt Lake however, Salt Lake is kind of a big brother to Provo. What we can all take away is that there is a lot of movement happening for bicycles in Utah and if Provo wants to take part in that in only takes our interaction and interest to make things happen. Which we will get to a little later.
Next up was Council Member Luke Garrott. He is the one that is responsible for the summit taking form and becoming a reality. He encouraged all of us cyclists to find a strong voice and to put in to action anything that we may find useful for th m the summit. Short on time he exited stage left and on came Jeff Miller.
Jeff Miller is President and CEO of Alliance for Bicycling and Walking (this is a link worth checking out). He said most of his experience prior to the Alliance was organizing cyclists and cycling advocates in Maine. He does have some roots in Utah however, one of his ancestors actually put up the first hospital in Provo. Jeff was an awesome speaker. Full of information, inspiration, and a good measure of humor. He made a lot of statistical points about cycling in Utah. Such as, 10% of all trips to work in Utah are made by bike or foot, for cycling this is a 96% increase over the last 20 years. He also shared with us a despairing statistic, 16% of all pedestrian fatalities occur with minors 16 and under, this is the highest in the nation. There was a ton more and I have the book on it so if any one wants all the interesting information on cycling from around the U.S. you can contact me and I will let you borrow it. Next he gave Utah some suggestions. I am going to bullet point the ones that caught my eye the most.
1.Sate funding for Safe Routes to School. This is a project that our very own Provo Bicycle Committee will be tackling soon.
2.Working for Distracted Driving legislation. He stated that you are 23 times more likely to get in an accident if you are using your cell phone while driving. I know there is some mixed number on this issue. Anecdotally, I also know that almost every time I have a close call, and every time a car has hit me, the driver has been on their phone not paying attention. If you happen to be some one who does drive while using the phone I would ask you to please reconsider, not only am I on the roads every day with my bicycle but so is my family and many other of our fellow citizens.
3.Adopt Secretary Ray LaHoodâ€™s new policy for the Transportation Department. Basically, bicycling and bicycle infrastructure need to receive the same attention and funding that cars do.
4.Promote Share the Road license plates. If you have a car get one of these if your mom has a car have her get one of these, if your grandpa has a car have him get one of these, you get the point. The above link leads me to the next point as well.
5.Band together as a state. In Provo we have the Bicycle Committee which is an important and essential link in the chain of banding together. In Utah we have the Utah Bicycle Coalition which is now taking memberships. These memberships will help Utah in general and Provo when needed. Pretty much everyone at this conference (some 150 people), saw the importance and pledged to become members by the end of the weekend.
While lengthy this sums up what Jeff had to say and add to our discussion.
After this awesome talk there was a panel discussion which spoke on Safe Routes, and local efforts being made with bicycling. Provo made it into the discussion which was awesome! I actually noticed that Provo was getting noticed all over the place many people are excited to see the movement that we are making. Remember you are all part of that movement make sure you are out riding and getting your voices heard. After the panel discussion we took a break and picked topics for break out sessions.
The break out sessions were participant run and really informative. I took part part in a discussion on the B-Cycle bicycle sharingÂ program which is launching in Denver this coming Thursday. This is something we will be keeping our eye on here at BikeProvo. There is a lot of buzz about getting something like this going in Salt Lake and Provo in the coming future. The other session I went to was on Transportation and Cycling. Mainly a lot of interest in the Complete Streets model, and Parkway days.
After all of this we were invited over to the Gallivan Center for a meet and greet with some of the State Politicians. Did some talking got some names and numbers, and ate a lot of food it was really nice. To end the evening we went to catch the train.
It arrived right when we did and Tod got his bike on just fine as I went to get mine on the doors closed on me and would not re-open, then the train started to pull away. I knew there was nothing I could do but strap my helmet back on and race that train to the next stop. As I did there was a guy sitting at the station that saw everything and said “you’ll never catch it”, the race was on! I jumped on my steed and started blowing through downtown Salt Lake jumping curbs, cutting through parking lots and pedaling my lungs out (riding fast not recklessly). I was defiantly regretting the full third plate of food I had about 15 minutes earlier. After about a mile or so I was at the station getting on the train feeling really cool and laughing with Tod. It was an exciting end to an awesome day.
The overarching message of the day was that things are happening in Utah and Nationally that are really beneficial for cyclists. Bicycles are becoming more and more noticed as a viable form of transportation, and a critical link in livable communities. Provo is sitting in a really good place but has a long way to go still. We need you the riders to be involved. We need you the riders to get in touch with the Bicycle Committee and let them know what you want to see happen in the city. We need you the readers to send us information on bicycle events and happenings, to organize bicycle events and happenings. The message of the day is action, action, and action. More to come tomorrow.