Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.

X

Community Applauds New Lanes on 500 West

People who bicycle are praising the new bike lanes on 500 West, which were installed early this month. The lanes run from 300 South to the new Lakeview Parkway (road and more importantly, trail), a distance of 1.6 miles. They provide folks in the southwest neighborhoods a safe route into central Provo (though not quite to downtown) for the first time.

Going the other direction, they give recreational riders, including families out for a spin, access to the trail that opens up stunning views of the mountain, lake, marsh and farmland as heads west to the airport. They also connect bicyclists to East Bay workplaces via the trail in the opposite (easterly) direction and the bridge over 1-15. In short, the 500 West lanes are a significant step toward the creation of a robust network of bikeways in Provo and a boost to quality of life.

The lanes at their southern edge at the Lakeview Parkway. The trail runs on the south side.

Becky Hunt, a resident of Lakewood Neighborhood who uses 500 West to get her job at city hall, said “I love the new bike lanes. My commute to work is much safer.” Curtis Thacker, who commutes from south Provo to BYU and uses it for recreational rides to get to Provo Canyon, commented, “The new bike lanes on south 500 West are great. Before this change there were no lines on the road. Adding bike lanes makes the road much safer for cyclists. These new lines on the road effectively narrow the road through a school zone, naturally slowing traffic through that area. 500 West also provides great access to Lakeside Parkway which is great for cyclists. The changes are an all around great thing. I only wish the bike lane went further north on 500 West.” Another resident of the neighborhood and fellow city employee, Phil Uhl, upon hearing the news that the lanes would be installed exclaimed on Facebook, “My commute (4x per day on this segment) just got safer.” He must go home for lunch.

The lanes looking running north from the 1-15 underpass.

Bike commuters headed to work in the opposite direction at companies in East Bay are happy about the lanes too. A resident of the Dixon Neighborhood who had just started a new job in that area and was unfamiliar with 500 West without bike lanes said that he was sure glad they had been installed. He could not imagine riding safely on the road without them. Brandon Taylor, who lives in Grandview North Neighborhood and works in the old Novell building, said “the new lanes are pretty cool. They are very obvious as opposed to most bike lanes that can easily be looked over.” Perhaps it is the newly painted lines on a road that was completely devoid of any lines before.

Looking south at the lane just north of the train tracks.

In the near future, the new lanes on 500 West will connect to the wider network of lanes that is emerging in Provo. UDOT has indicated that next year they will be installing bike lanes on the part of 500 West that they control: State Street. Although they have not revealed their final plans, those lanes will likely run north from 300 South to Bulldog Boulevard, which will be endowed with protected bike lanes next year. Those two projects will connect people on bikes to the lanes on 500 North (going in this year); those going east and west on 800/820 North; the bike lanes on University Avenue, both those installed by UDOT north of 700 North to the mouth of the Canyon last fall and those that will be installed south of 700 North to 500 South as a part of the BRT project; to the Provo River Trail and College Connector Trail; and so on. The goal is an interconnected web of bikeways (absent of any gaps!) that people of all ages can navigate safely and conveniently making bicycling not an alternative form of transformation, but at least for short trips around town, a safe, convenient, and preferable mode of getting to work, to school, and to run errands. That will greatly improve resident’s quality of life.

A bike marker moments after it was painted in the lane on July 6th.

Thanks to Mayor Curtis and his Public Works team for understanding that and for their dogged efforts to ensure that bike lanes were installed on 500 West, despite the legitimate demand for on-street parking on the road. It’s now time to officially install bike lanes on another important north-south corridor, one with negligible on-street parking: Canyon Road.

Headed north on the new lanes from the Lakeview Parkway Trail.

by Aaron Skabelund

Complete Street Celebration: Sneak Peek

What do raised intersections, painted crosswalks, buffered bicycle lanes, signage, and bulb outs have to do with creating a safer street?

Find out for yourself by taking a look at the temporary 500 North Pilot Project, organized by neighborhood volunteers. The project will be up for a couple weeks (although the paint is freshest now!) until the city is ready to re-pave the street and will give the public a chance to try out potential new road features.

Come to the Complete Street Celebration and BBQ on Saturday, July 29th from 7-8:30 in front of the Rec Center. Also, stop by any time with your family and friends to take a look, snap some photos, and give the street a try.

Here’s a quick glimpse and what you’ll find:

Thanks to Christopher Wiltsie for snapping these early morning shots!

What were Provo Police, Neighbors, the Bicycle Committee, and People From All Over Provo Doing with Dozens of Cans of Paint at 2 a.m. on Friday?

You may have noticed something unusual on 500 North this Friday night.

Neighbors, police officers, city employees, the Provo Bicycle Committee, and people from all over the city joined together to paint the town. Literally.

What’s the deal with all the fresh paint (and bales of hay)? We’re running a pilot project to make 500 North a safer street for neighbors and residents headed to the Rec Center and North Park.

Come to the family-friendly 500 North Celebration (7pm on 500 N by the Rec Center) tomorrow (July 29th) for free KirbyQ BBQ and the chance to see the pilot and share your own ideas.

In the mean time, here’s a tiny sneak-peak of the fun we had in the middle of the night:

Photo credit: the good ones were taken by Christopher Wiltsie and I took the not-so-great ones.

Help Us Re-Imagine 500 N!

500 N will look different on the morning of Saturday, July 29th. That transformation will be the result of a neighborhood experiment, funded by a state grant and supported by the city, to model a street safer for people to get to the Recreation Center, North Park, Timpanogos Elementary School, the Library, and other destinations. This means making the street friendly and safe for neighborhood residents, pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers (for EVERYONE!) who would like to use 500 N.

Please join us this Friday night (July 28th) as we make temporary changes to 500 N to make it safer for people who walk and bike. After a quick BBQ at 10:00 pm (prepared by the North Park Neighborhood chair), we will begin our work at 10:30 pm. We will be simulating a raised tabletop intersection at 300 W and and raised crosswalk at 400 W with paint. We will be installing buffered bike lanes between 200 and 500 W.

The City’s Street Division has already started the poject by painting in two parallel buffered bike lanes on both sides for the Street from 200 to 500 W. On Friday, one group will paint in the cross-hatching between these lines and bike markers on the right side of them.

Provo Police will be closing down the road from 200 W to 400 W so that we can safely implement the pilot. (Please wear bright clothing.) We will work in the cover of night but with the blessing of the city. This pilot is funded primarily by a $1,000 grant from the Utah Department of Health, sponsored by Bike Utah and supported by the Utah County Health Department. Please come prepared to have fun and make a difference.

Please RSVP so we can get an idea of how much food to prepare for the BBQ and how many worker bees we will have to execute the pilot from 10:30 pm. We hope to be finished by midnight.

Complete the Street Celebration

The following evening, Saturday, July 29th, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm we will host a public event to introduce the project to elected officials and the general public. Please join us on 500 N between 200 W and 500 W to re-imagine what our streets can be. The project will demonstrate possible changes to the street (that might be implemented soon or in the future) and start a conversation about our public streets. Most importantly, the pilot project requires… A GOOD IMAGINATION! Keep in mind that what you’re seeing is just a mockup of how permanent street changes might look. See beyond temporary items like chalk and cones to imagine how the street could look in the future.

Bring your neighbors, friends and family and come celebrate a completed street! There will be food trucks, information booths, activities, and lots of people. Hope to see you there!

For more information visit the Facebook Event Page.

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.

Bike Lanes on University Ave?!

Let me tell you a story. About six years ago, a group of Provo neighbors and bicyclists got together. They wanted to a safe way to ride to downtown restaurants and retail. They wanted a north-south connection that brought them to the places they actually wanted to go. They wanted bicycle lanes on University Ave.

Real bad.

So began a multi-year adventure of trying to get those dang lanes. Dozens of people spoke up at city council meetings. Hundreds of comments were left at public meetings and online forums about the street. Meetings were arranged with group after group after group. There was a friendly rally. We did all but beg (okay, maybe we sort of begged too).

But, the state wouldn’t sign off the Provo Bicycle Plan if they had to commit to something they felt was premature. So, to avoid killing the plan altogether, the lanes were left out. And, for a while, hope was kind of lost.

Until today.

Folks, at today’s TMAC (Transportation and Mobility Advisory Committee), they gave us a sneak-peak of the new plan for University Ave. Guess what was four feet wide and off to each side of the street: beautiful, downtown bike lanes.

Now, keep in mind that this is just a preliminary mock-up. The final decisions haven’t been made. But, these bike lanes are a game changer. Here’s why:

– Bike lanes will make the street safer for car drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Without bike lanes, bicyclists would have to end up taking up a lane in the road. It’s not legal for drivers to pass a cyclist if they don’t have a clearance of 3-feet or more. And, since the speed limit is 35 MPH, if you were driving you may have been stuck behind a cyclist who had nowhere else to ride. Similarly, cyclists with a bit more anxiety would have ended up on the sidewalk…not the best place when it’s full of pedestrians. Especially as downtown becomes more of a destination.

– These lanes will be a game-changer for connectivity throughout the city. They’ll connect BYU with downtown Provo. They’ll connect the new lanes on Bulldog Blvd. and 300 South to University Ave. They’ll connect riders with the FrontRunner and the river trail. We don’t need bike lanes on lots of residential streets that are already safe to ride. We need them on streets that take people where they want to go. This does exactly that.

– We often kvetch about how great it would be if students ditched their cars. But, we didn’t back up our whining by providing them with the infrastructure that would make that possible. Now that they’ll have fast and reliable bus systems, the FrontRunner, AND a connected network of bike lanes taking them through the city, it will be much more reasonable to get around without a car.

– If we keep heading this direction and do it right, University Ave. is going to put Provo on the map. Talk about something we can be proud of: a real complete street that balances the needs of drivers, pedestrians, public transportation, and bicyclists in a way that makes sense, is aesthetically pleasing, and creates a sense of place.

Seriously, way to go Provo. Huge thank yous to everyone who took the time to listen and come up with a plan like this: the planning committees, Provo engineering, the TMAC, UDOT and UTA, the council, Mayor Curtis, our fantastic new Bike Czar Gary, Phil the map-maker whose long-term vision created something for Provo to work with, and (of course) Bike Committee chairs Zac Whitmore and Aaron Skabelund who pushed us to keep advocating for big goals even when we were completely exhausted. Thank you, thank you.

I’m so proud of our community for coming together for something like this.

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.

Reporting from Provo’s Mobile Active Trasportation Tour

By Aaron Skabelund, Provo Bicycle Committee Chair

Photo: Jim Price

What was the hottest ticket last month in Provo? It may have been the Mobile Active Transportation Tour (MATT), an introduction of Provo’s active transportation routes for city elected officials, transportation and planning administrator, and bicycle advocates. Though attendance was capped at 40 participants, over 50 riders from up and down the Wasatch Front joined the tour on May 20th, one of five MATTs this year held in the state which are coordinated by Bike Utah, Mountainland Association of Governments, the National Park Service, UTA, and the Wasatch Front Regional Council.

On a beautiful morning on one of the few days it did not rain in May, participants arrived by train at the Provo Frontrunner Station where they were greeted by Gary McGinn, Provo’s director of Community Development who under the mayor’s direction is coordinating the implementation of the Provo Bicycle Master Plan. Due to the many participants, cyclists broke into two groups for the ride. On Center Street, Bill Peperone told the group about the tremendous transformation of the downtown and how the city is working to make it more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. On 200 East, engineer Brad Jorgensen talked about plans for the street to become a Neighborhood Greenway and the groups saw 16 sharrow (shared lane) signs that neighborhood activists had painted on the street earlier that week in preparation for the Complete the Street 200 East block party. One city engineer from the Salt Lake Valley remarked that he loved such community involvement and interest in making streets complete.

At BYU, the group learned from Bob Ross about the administration’s ongoing efforts to make campus more accommodating and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. MAG’s Jim Price showed them the College Connector Trail, and Doug Robins of Parks met the group on the Provo River Trail as the traveled parallel to University Avenue and reported that Parks would intends to upgrade that trail to the “Murdoch Canal-standard.” That was a nice segue to the transition to that trail as the group entered Orem, and concluded the ride at MAG’s office on 800 North where they participated in an Active Transportation committee meeting. The tour highlighted Provo’s completion of, plans for, and process of integrating biking and walking with transit (most importantly BRT), housing, shopping, employment, and recreation destinations.

Thanks to Provo City and BYU (and Outdoors Unlimited which provided a few bikes for participants who were not able to bring one along), which were assisted by the Provo Bicycle Committee in hosting the event.

What Happened to 200 East: Your Guide to This Weekend’s Tactical Urbanism Experiment

[EDIT: The party is being postponed until Monday. Please check the event for updates. From the event page: “The rain is letting up but it’s not clear enough for the sound equipment. We’re postponing to Monday and keeping our fingers crossed for good weather, but anyone can head over and see our parklets and the traffic calming measures that have been set up already. We apologize for any confusion!” They worked like crazy to set it up and it’s definitely worth checking out what is already there, even if the weather doesn’t allow for a party tonight.]

You might notice that 200 E. looks a little different on Saturday, June 6th. This is a part of a neighborhood project to model a complete street – a shared community space for everyone. That means making the street friendly and safe for neighborhood residents, pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers, and anyone else that might be using the streets.

Making these temporary changes to a street is called Tactical Urbanism. Tactical Urbanism can be any small, inexpensive, short-term action designed to start a conversation and engage neighbors in thinking about what they want their street to look like. Most importantly…

Tactical Urbanism Requires a Good Imagination!

Keep in mind that what you’re seeing is just a mock-up of how permanent street changes might look. See beyond temporary items like chalk lines and cones to imagine how the space could look in the future.

Here are a few things to look for as you tour the street during Saturday night’s Neighborhood Greenway Party:

Neighborhood Greenways

Neighborhood Greenways, also known as Complete Streets, are designed to enable safe access for everyone, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Neighborhood Greenways make it easy to cross the street; walk to campus; and bicycle to downtown, the new temple, and the Frontrunner Station.

Bulbouts

Curb extensions, sometimes referred to as bulbouts, increase the overall visibility of pedestrians by aligning them with the parking lane and reducing crossing distances. They also serve as a visual cue to drivers that they are entering a neighborhood street or area.

Parklets

Parklets are converted curbside parking spaces that create vibrant community spaces. Parklets incorporate seating, greenery, and accommodate unmet demand for usable public space.

Sharrows

Shared Lane Markings or “sharrows” are markings used to indicate a shared lane environment for bicycles and automobiles. Among other benefits, shared lane markings reinforce the legitimacy of bicycle traffic on the street and recommend proper bicyclist street positioning.

Bring your imagination to the Neighborhood Greenway Party and imagine the future of safer, more people-friendly Provo streets. There will be live entertainment, food trucks, a scavenger hunt, and a chance to win lots of awesome prizes (including pieces from local artists and Disneyland tickets)! See you there!

Action Alert from the League of American Cyclists: Support the Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Act

Here’s an important alert from our friends at the League of American Cyclists. You can make a difference by sending an auto email to Representative Chaffetz and Senators Hatch and Lee (feel free to add in some of your own experiences with un-safe streets too, if you feel so inclined). Remember, taking action at the national level can ultimately have a big impact on how new streets are designed in Provo:

Joy Covey helped catapult Amazon.com from a small company to the global powerhouse it is today. Earlier this year, on a bicycle ride in San Mateo County, Calif., she was struck by a delivery van and killed. She was 50 years old.

Joy is one of hundreds of men and women killed while bicycling or walking on our streets each year.

This has to change — and a one-sentence bill in Congress could do it. 

Please contact your members of Congress today to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 3494 / S. 1708, which requires the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) and state DOTs to account for and work to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.  Take Action Here.

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that biking and walking fatalities have continued to increase – now representing 16.3 percent of all traffic deaths and a total of 5,469 people killed.

Last year, Congress mandated the US DOT to set performance goals, including safety goals. We believe that those goals should include a plan to make biking safer. However, the US DOT has refused to set a safety goal for non-motorized transportation.

Congress doesn’t agree: Members of the House and Senate, from both sides of the aisle, have introduced identical bills specifically requiring US DOT to set a goal to reduce the deaths of those biking and walking.

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act states clearly that the lives of all roadway users are important — and creates accountability toward ending needless deaths.

It gives US DOT the flexibility to determine the best method to meet these safety measures, and calls on our leaders to reduce the number of people biking and walking who are killed or injured on our streets every year.            

It’s time that we all stand together to say that the deaths of bicyclists and pedestrians deserve to be counted and prevented, too. Please help us build the momentum for this important legislation by contacting your members of Congress to ask them to co-sponsor these bipartisan bills.

Without it, people who bike and walk, like Joy, will remain in the blindspot of our transportation system.

Join this effort, and tell your lawmakers to vote for these straightforward, bi-partisan bills. Take action. 

Thank you for your support!