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The Provo Bicycle Community Welcomes Mayor Michelle Kaufusi

We’re starting off the new year by welcoming Provo’s new mayor, Michelle Kaufusi.

Last month (despite being extraordinarily busy after taking office early) Mayor Kaufusi took the time to sit down with representatives of the Provo Bicycle Committee. We’re delighted to report that she invited us to continue our role as the mayor’s official committee.

Mayor Kaufusi was particularly interested in listening to our stories and finding ways that she could best help Provo become a safer, more welcoming place to ride a bicycle or walk.

A few weeks later, we were tickled when one of the new mayor’s first videos featured her taking the lane on two wheels…

When Mayor Curtis first took office eight years ago, bicycling was almost never mentioned. Now, it’s taken seriously in Provo and throughout the state as a way to encourage quality of life, improve our air, and create great neighborhoods for our families. Mayor Curtis took bicycling into the Provo mainstream, and we have high hopes that Mayor Kaufusi will be able to make Provo one of the best cities for cycling in the West!

Welcome, Mayor Kaufusi!

Dear Mayor Curtis: We Remember

Dear Mayor Curtis,

Thank you for your (almost magical) advocacy for Provo residents who walk and ride bicycles in the city.

Eight years ago, a small group approached you and asked if they could work towards making Provo more bicycle-friendly. You invited us to become the mayor’s Provo Bicycle Committee.

Since then, you’ve worked in public and in private to make our streets safer for all road users, including kids headed to school, bicycle commuters, moms pushing strollers, and BYU students.

As you’re headed to Washington, we just wanted to let you know one thing. We remember.

Remember when you made it a priority to understand our concerns by riding your bicycle to work on Provo’s streets for 100 days in a year? We remember.

Remember when state agencies told us there was no way of getting bike lanes on University Ave? But, just before the project was finalized, the lanes showed up in the plan anyway? We remember.

Remember when you were willing to stand up (in spite of push-back) for trying new things? Like the city’s first bicycle-friendly intersection or the buffered bicycle lanes soon coming to Bulldog Boulevard? We remember.

Remember when your family rode a bicycle in the Independence Day Parade and invited community cyclists to join in the fun? We remember. 

Remember when you hosted Bike-to-School Week, Clear-the-Air Challenges, and all of the Bike-to-Work Weeks. We remember.

Remember when you always heard us out, even when we weren’t the most patient? We remember.

Remember when you took a Taco Crawl throughout downtown on a tandem? We remember.

Remember all the little and big risks you took to make streets safer for all of us? We won’t forget. 

Thank you, Mayor Curtis.

Sincerely,

So many families, students, children, seniors, and people who enjoy Provo’s streets.

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!

Massive Ride-the-Parkway Provo Celebration

Grab your bikes, trikes, boards, skates, and scooters and ride on down to the grand opening of Provo’s Lakeview Parkway! The new westside connector is about to open and to celebrate we’re hosting a non-motorized All-Wheels Festival! This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the open road and take advantage of the brand new corridor. Pedal on over to 1100 West and 1560 South on Wednesday, October 12 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm for a once-in-a-lifetime event!

  • Grant opening celebration with giant inflatable arch, candy cannon shooting off delicious treats, countdown from the crowd, and an official ribbon cutting.
  • Decorate your ride contest with prizes forthe most creative, craziest, cutest, and best decorated forms of transportation.
  • Free hot chocolate for the first 200 riders.
  • Food truck round-up… so come hungry!
  • Bounce house madness with a Challenge Obstacle Course, 25-foot Dual Lane Mega Slide, and Castle Bounce House.
  • Free bike tune-ups and registration. Everest Bike Repair, Provo’s newest bike repair shop will be offering free bike tune-ups to anyone who brings their bicycle to the event. Provo City will be offering free bicycle licensing (to help track down your bicycle should it get lost or stolen).
  • Lots more!

Whatever you ride, you won’t want to miss this massive Provo celebration. Find out more details on the Mayor’s blog and on the official Facebook event.

Imagine Riding the Provo River Trail to Deer Creek and Beyond: Imagine No Longer. This Will Soon be a Reality!

Besides funding for a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Union Pacific tracks at the Provo Frontrunner Station, the other major project related to Provo that the $20M Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant will help make possible is a 2.75 mile extension of Provo River Trail from Vivian Park to the Deer Creek Reservoir Trail. At the reservoir, the extension will connect to the Provo-Jordan River Parkway Trail that stretches around the west side of Deer Creek. Four million dollars (one-fifth of the total) of the grant is to be allocated to this project. The estimated cost of the trail is $4.6M. The expected completion date has not yet been determined.

This is what part of that area between Vivian Park and Deer Creek looks like now. From above, you can see the road, the railroad track, and the Provo River. Some roadies brave riding on the shoulder of US-189, but for less risk-adverse, more casual recreational bicyclists (and pedestrians), there is no safe route up Provo Canyon after Vivian Park.

This is what part of that area between Vivian Park and Deer Creek looks like now. From above, you can see the road, the railroad track, and the Provo River. Some roadies brave riding on the shoulder of US-189, but for less risk-adverse, more casual recreational bicyclists (and pedestrians), there is no safe route up Provo Canyon after Vivian Park.

This is what the area looks like from the ground.

This is the view that most folks, including people on bicyclists, are most acquainted. It is the end the line. Here the immensely popular Provo River Trail, a 15-mile multi-use pathway starting at Utah Lake, dead ends at the start of the Heber Valley Historical Railway at Vivian Park.

Here is a map of the new trail as it will extend from Vivian Park to Deer Creek along “Heber Creeper” railway line. This project is made possible thanks to railway company opening up its right-of-way for the trail.

Here is an example of a rock and landscape separation between a trail and railroad.

And once you get to Deer Creek, bicyclists will be able to continue around the west side of the reservoir to Stringtown Road in Heber City, not far from Soldier Hollow.

Happy riding ahead! Please keep watching bikeprovo.org for updates as this project moves forward.

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.

Provo’s First Protected Bike Lanes Coming to Bulldog Blvd.

HOLY SMOKES!

Take a look at this visionary design coming to Bulldog Boulevard. We’ve been asking for this kind of design on Provo streets for years, and it’s finally happening.

Provo’s first protected bike lanes. Beautiful tree-lined median. Design that’s safer for everyone: people in cars, people in bikes, people on the sidewalk. There’s still a while to go in terms of getting public feedback and nailing down the minor design details. But, the design was approved unanimously by Provo’s Transportation and Mobility Committee. It’s happening, folks.

Check out the Mayor’s blog for details. And please, take a couple minutes to leave a comment of support.

This Tuesday: Help Save Our County Transportation System

If you’re in favor of complete streets (roads that are friendly to bicycles, pedestrians, cars, and transit), please help out by coming to the Utah County Commission meeting tomorrow and speaking in support of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for Provo and Orem. This project has been years in the making and will be the backbone for more reliable, connected public transportation throughout the entire county. But, the project is at risk due to a few vocal and last-minute opponents.

When: Tuesday, May 12th. 9:00 a.m. Ride with the mayor and pick up some sweet swag at Provo’s Bike-to-Work Day and then head over to the meeting. (I know, who schedules meetings at that time? But we really do need your voice!)

Where: Commission Chambers located in room 1400 of the Utah County Administration Building (100 East Center Street, Provo)

What: Please stand up during public hearing (first item on the agenda) and let the county commission know that you support complete streets – including the BRT system in our county. Just a short statement will go a long way. Also, please share this with your friends and family whether or not you can make it. The more voices we have, the better.

If you’d like to learn more, take a look at this write-up about having vision from Mayor John Curtis or today’s letter in the Herald from Bruce Hall.

Speaking up can feel a little scary, but your voice is needed. Keep in mind that the people at the meeting are just your fellow neighbors and you’ll be surrounded by a community that cares about transportation issues just as much as you do. What better way to celebrate bike month than to advocate for complete streets?

Provo Bicycle Action Alert: Take This UDOT Bicycle Survey By Friday

UDOT is taking Provo’s input on how to spend funds available for bicycle infrastructure and facilities in Utah Valley on state-owned roads. Please help them out (and help them see what Provo residents feel is important) by taking this online survey by Friday.

Please share this link with your family and friends…and fill it out yourself as soon as possible. Completing the survey is a quick way to make your voice heard and should only take 5-10 minutes.

University Ave. Guerrilla Urbanism Demonstrates Possibilities & Potential

Early this morning, Provo guerrilla urbanists descended on University Ave. to temporarily transform a block and help BRT decision-makers imagine what-could-be.

The group measured out the currently proposed BRT street plan, and placed flags where the new sidewalk will end. Flags were also used to demonstrate how bulb outs could potentially improve visibility and create safer intersections.

A colored shared-use lane was created with chalk near the side of the road. Currently, the large shoulder allows bicyclists and motorists to easily share the available space. However, the new plan will eliminate the large shoulder and push bicyclists into the lane. Bicycle lanes are not considered politically feasible for the entirety of University Ave. since they would eliminate parking – however, a colored shared-use lane (such as those used in Salt Lake) would be an effective way of promoting safety for those in cars and on bikes.

Potted flowers and trees were brought in to encourage the preservation of as many mature trees as possible and the use of green space throughout University Ave.

Businesses along the block participated by coming outside and having a more prominent on-street presence, creating a visual incentive for pedestrians to interact and enter storefronts. Signs, flags, and free samples enticed passerbys.

 

Zero Proof Mocktails set up an on-street gathering place with free (and delicious) drinks while conversations took place.

Meanwhile, around the corner, the use of inviting tables, umbrellas, and a mock bistro was so welcoming that people passing through the neighborhood naturally starting congregating and asking questions about the project.

In the end, the project hopefully gave decision-makers and Provo residents the chance to re-imagine what University Ave. might become.

The truth is that the BRT road construction process (like all major construction) is not going to be pleasant. People are going to get annoyed with the noise, the roadwork, and concerns about any potential changes. However, now is the time to make a thoroughfare that Provo can be proud of – a street that is bustling with business and inviting to all road users.

Rarely does a city have the opportunity (and the funding) to re-design a major street into a national example and a go-to destination. Provo has that opportunity right now…let’s encourage decision-makers to step outside of the status quo and take the lead on transforming University Ave.

A huge thanks to Bill Graff, Susan Krueger-Barber, and Aaron Skabelund – the dedicated urbanists that led out on this project.