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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.

Breaking Celebration: Bulldog Blvd. Protected Lanes Just Funded!

Here’s something that should put a smile on your face: the Bulldog Boulevard project will be going through. The Regional Planning Committee just voted tonight to fund the project.

One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the protected bicycle lanes – the first in Provo! These lanes should help reduce the high number of bicycle / car collisions that are frequent through this corridor.

Funding is officially slated for 2019. However, it is possible that the project may begin sooner. Big thanks to the Regional Planning Committee, county commissioners, mayors, and (especially) our local engineering and planning professionals for their dedication on this visionary project.

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.

Provo Road Rally on Tuesday: Show up With Signs to Show Your Support of a Bicycle & Pedestrian Friendly Provo

We haven’t asked for major help in a long time, but next Tuesday it is essential that we have a significant presence at the Provo City Council meeting. If you support a bicycle and pedestrian friendly city, we need your help! Now is the time to stand up and make a difference!

We are concerned about delays in the passage of the Provo Bicycle Plan (currently held up in committee and over a year past the anticipated adoption date). We also believe it is unreasonable to ask Provo residents to pay a “transportation fee” that doesn’t give consideration to all forms of transportation on our public roads. Residents will be required to pay the fee that is being discussed at Tuesday’s Provo City Council Meeting, yet the entire discussion about this fee to fund maintenance of public roads has only focused on automobiles.

We will be gathering to hold a “Road Rally” in front of the city council building on Center Street (351 W. Center Street) on Tuesday November 19th at 4:00 p.m. Please feel free to walk or bring your bicycle. We are asking Mayor Curtis and the Council to:

  • Pass the Provo Bicycle Plan as quickly as possible and pass the plan in tact without watering it down or applying unreasonable standards that are not applied to similar general plans.
  • Allocate 2% of the transportation fee funds to bicycle projects (the current mode share for bicyclists in Provo is 2.38%). Adding this to the proposed fee schedule would equal six cents a residence.

We want to have a friendly, cordial presence while showing that this is a quality of life issue that the residents of Provo care deeply about and are not giving up on. WE NEED YOU!

Please bring your friends, family, and kids and feel free to drop by even if you can only stay for a short period. Signs are particularly appreciated. Here are a few idea, but feel free to let your creative juices flow!

  • I Support Complete Streets in Provo
  • Bikes Belong on the Road Too
  • Make Streets for Everyone
  • Bicyclists and Pedestrians are Road Users Too
  • Support Safer Streets in Provo

Following the rally, we invite you to stay for the city council meeting and express your desire for a bicycle / pedestrian friendly Provo to your local elected officials during the public comment period (each speaker is allowed two minutes to speak).

The weather forecast for Tuesday is low 50s and clear. Hot cocoa will be provided! Take a look at the Facebook Event.

FAQs About the Provo Bicycle Plan

By now, you’ve probably heard a lot about the Provo Bicycle Plan – a document developed over the last two years that has still not been passed. If you have questions, we have answers.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get about the plan:

What is the Provo Bicycle Plan?

The Provo Bicycle Plan is a document that identifies ways the city can design complete streets; connect our existing segment of bicycle lanes; and create a safer community for bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. Most communities that are known for having a high quality of life have already passed similar plans. This 204 page document was carefully crafted by major stakeholders during a two year period.

Who created the Provo Bicycle Plan?

The Provo Bicycle Plan was created by a steering committee made up of representatives from all major stakeholders: Provo City Engineering, UDOT, UTA, BYU, MAG, Parks and Rec, the Provo Bicycle Committee, the city council, and Alta Planning and Design – one of the top firms in the nation. It was the work of many groups that had not come together before for something like this in Provo. The Provo Bicycle Committee had only a single seat on the steering committee that created the plan. The entities that created it were those that have the power to make things happen and determine whether or not ideas were feasible and fiscally sound.

What kind of public outreach was involved with the Provo Bicycle Plan?

Extensive public outreach took place over the last two years. Neighborhood outreach for the plan has included: A notice about the plan and avenues for input in the utilities bill sent to every residence. A website created by the consultancy firm just for the plan with a copy of the plan and multiple avenues to provide feedback from home (a feedback form, an email address, etc). A banner across University Ave. and Freedom Blvd. with a URL that led to a website with additional info. Multiple posts on the front page of the Provo city website regarding the plan / meetings. Multiple articles in The Daily Herald, The Deseret News, and The Salt Lake Tribune. A private Provo bike blog with over 400 posts and continual updates on the status of the plan.  Multiple highly publicized public meetings with maps / plan overviews and representatives from city engineering, the city council, the administration, the state, and MAG. Opportunities to provide written feedback, discuss the plan with representatives, or give oral feedback to a transcriptionist available throughout the meetings. At the Planning Commission meeting, Casey Serr from engineering noted that the turnout rate at public meetings and the response rate for online surveys was high.

Was the bicycle plan rushed?

No. The plan was supposed to be completed in less than a year (prior to December 2012). It is now approaching two years and we are missing out on opportunities to compete for funding and complete projects.

During this period, there was extensive public outreach, multiple representatives worked to iron out potential issues, and there was considerable education regarding bicycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure provided to involved parties. During this period, the plan was extensively vetted by Provo engineering, UDOT, UTA, MAG, BYU, etc.

By comparison, Orem’s bicycle plan took 11 months from start to finish. They now qualify for funding that Provo still cannot receive. Read more