BikeWalk Provo members, we need you to speak up, either by email or during the Provo City Planning Commission meeting next Wednesday evening.
BYU has announced the construction of a new music building on the corner of 900 E and 1100 N, southeast of its law school. The building will be used primarily for instruction and student performances. It will also serve as a venue for concerts open to the public, which are held during the evening or on Saturdays and can therefore take advantage of the existing parking lots in the evening, when BYU students and employees are gone.
At a recent hearing, members of the Provo Planning Commission pressed BYU to build a parking garage as a part of this project. Not only do parking garages come at an incredible cost at $30,000 per parking space, but the construction of a parking structure will only induce more driving. It would undermine the progress BYU has achieved over the last several years to discourage driving and incentivize transit and active transportation. Rather than encouraging BYU to continue in this sustainable trajectory, the Planning Commission is asking for the opposite.
Please raise your voice in support of the BYU Music Building by emailing the Planning Commission at email@example.com by Tuesday evening or calling in your comments during the meeting, which will be available via an on-demand YouTube viewingnext Wednesday evening, starting at 6 pm soon. The item has been continued and will be heard again at a later date.
Talking points to use:
Only 40% of trips to BYU are by car
The peak use of BYU parking is in the day. Performances can take advantage of existing empty parking in the evening.
BYU already has the second-highest student-per-parking space ratio in the state; a rate above the national recommendation
Parking garages cost at least $30,000 per parking space and are an unwise long-term investment with shared autonomous vehicles coming
Increase transit accessibility with a 900 E Creamery UVX stop and BYU Ryde shuttles to BYU football parking
Place parking restrictions on the city streets across 900 East if you are worried about spillover—time limits, fees, or parking permit programs
We have a vision for a new 300 West: a low-stress bicycle boulevard that connects people on bike and foot with UTA’s Provo Central station, Amtrak, Franklin neighborhood, Provo City Hall, downtown, Timp neighborhood, Provo Rec Center, IHC’s Utah Valley Hospital, Provo River Trail, and so much more.
To bring it about, we will be making temporary changes to the street to show Provo City and its residents how safe and friendly this street can be. This is called tactical urbanism.
But we can’t do any of this without your help. Here’s what you can do:
The project will begin at 8pm on Friday, July 26 and we will paint through the night. Please attend and invite your friends! Together we can demonstrate a low-speed bikeway that safely connects people on bike and foot to major destinations and show the city how good it can be. Join us!
According to US Census Bureau, about 15% of all trips to work and school in Provo are done on foot or on bike–the highest percentage in the state by far (the average is 4%). However, our streets are designed primarily for the rapid flow of motor vehicles. Provo needs safe streets designed for people–adults and children, including those with disabilities–walking, biking, and rolling to their destinations.
Our ask is simple–that $100,000 of Provo City’s streets budget be dedicated to small street design changes that make it safer to bike and walk. With the new quarter-cent sales tax increase going to transportation, that will be less than 3% of the current streets budget.
These projects will literally save lives. After 14-year old Caleb Lane was killed walking to the Rec Center, Provo City installed a safe crosswalk that cost about $50,000. $100,000 will allow Provo to do two similar projects per year, this time beforetragedies happen.
A month or two ago, we told you about the major improvements that were being planned for Bulldog Boulevard. These improvements would dramatically improve safety for a road that is seven times more deadly than average, beautify this ugly street, and, as council member Dave Sewell put it, save lives. However, those improvements may not happen without your voice.
Sadly, many residents intend to keep this street the high-speed, wide-open road is now is. This would maintain the high level of traffic crashes–more than seven times the state average–and continue to discourage cycling. These people have already blasted the city council with messaging in opposition of the project. What do they oppose? An increased car travel time of only four seconds in one direction and forty seconds in the other during peak traffic hours. That’s a small price to pay for safety.
Because of that opposition, the council is split on the decision to fund the project. Currently, three of the seven council members are opposed to the project and one is still undecided. This is too close to call.
We need your voice!
Tomorrow, the city council will be discussing this project and potentially making a decision on wether it should go through or not. Here’s what you can do:
Attend the City Council Work Meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, June 19) and voice your support. We estimate the City Council will begin talking about Bulldog Boulevard at 2:20pm.
Email the City Council to voice your support of the project if you cannot attend. Send your message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Key talking points in support of the project include safety improvements and city beautification. If you drive a car on that road, please mention how unsafe it feels in a car currently.
Don’t wait!Your inaction could cause this project to fail. Join us in voicing your support today!
We need your help this week. Please come to the 500 W Public Hearing. Wednesday, October 11th. 5-7pm at Provo High School.
UDOT is currently planning a redesign for 500 West. We’re delighted about the new bicycle lanes that will go from Center St. to Bulldog Blvd. as well as the historic lighting, and the ten foot pedestrian path. *Happy Dance*
The concerning feature of this design is the new wider, rounded corners at intersections.
Neighbors are worried because the rounded intersections create longer, less reliable crossings for pedestrians. They also encourage cars to speed through right turns. This plan makes school crossings to Timp Elementary even more dangerous for students that will no longer have a pedestrian crossing tunnel.
If the hospital staff needs an entire ped overpass on this street, our kids should at least have ground-level intersections designed for safety.
What is the Neighbors’ Preferred Design?
A group of neighbors would like to see 500 West intersections designed with bulb-outs or pork chops, two features that would protect children walking to Timp and families crossing the street elsewhere.
The benefits of these design features include shorter intersection distances for people walking, pushing strollers, etc. Crossings are more obvious and right turns are taken at a less-accelerated speed. This is a more reasonable compromise for Timp students that will be losing the pedestrian crossing tunnel to their school.
Please Help Us This Week
There are two big ways you can encourage UDOT to create safer intersections as a part of the street redesign:
– Come to the 500 W Public Hearing. Wednesday, October 11th. 5-7pm. Provo High School (1125 N University Ave.) Be sure to leave a written comment about your pedestrian safety and intersection preferences. You can come for just a few minute to leave a comment; you do not need to stay the entire time. It is an informal walk-through open house.
Please take 3 minutes to complete this quick online survey. Your responses will help provide context as the League is making its award-level decision and will also provide data that will be used to make Provo even more bicycle friendly.
Don’t forget to share the link with your Provo friends and neighbors.
Even a quick action like this can make a difference; thanks for helping out!
Please take this survey (only about 15 mins) to help our local government know how passionately Provo feels about adequate bicycle and pedestrian access as roads are re-built.
The survey will ask you to rank concerns (including bike and ped safety) about several future road projects. You’ll also get to look at several renderings of how specific roads might be built in the future, including 800 North, 820 North, 620 North, and more.
Do you want to see more bike lanes? Should more pedestrian trails connect to the Provo River Trail? Should bike lanes be protected? Your answers to these questions actually have a pretty major impact on how our local roads get built.
If you see a design that could be improved (i.e. features painted bike lanes when there really should be protected bike lanes, you can also fill-in-the-blanks with your own suggestions. For example:
Please consider attending this public meeting to learn about the future of biking in cities to the South of Provo. Although they aren’t discussing Provo in general, this would be a good place to give input if you want to talk about connecting trails and lanes between our cities or any south projects you may be interested in.
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
“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.
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.
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.
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.