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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.

ACTION ALERT: Take This Survey About Provo River Trail Improvements

Help improve the Provo River Trail by taking this short online survey.

Thanks to the RAP tax, some major (and greatly needed) improvements are coming to our beloved trail. The Provo Parks Department is committed to doing it right and have funds to do some amazing things so please share your ideas, big or small.

Resident feedback plays a HUGE role in projects like this, so please take the survey and share it with your like-minded friends.

Fourth Best Trail In The West!

Finally some happy news coming from our wonderful Provo River Trail. Sunset Magazine just named the PRT the fourth best trail for biking in the West (thanks for the link Provocation). We only came in after big hitters like Portland, Redmond, and Concord. Here is what they had to say;

Meander along the Provo River in Utah Lake State Park to the mouth of Provo Canyon on this path that picks up a slight gradual incline. Some short, steep climbs make it challenging at times, but its well-worth it. The reward: Bridal Veil Falls. The rushing water, which drops 600+ feet through a double cascade, is the perfect escape.

I would place a bet that with our almost complete master plan Provo, in the near future, will be able to lay claim to fourth best place (or better) to bike in the Nation. That is if you and me keep getting out there and pedaling. Speaking of which it is a great day I am headed out for a ride. See you out there.

Join Us This Saturday (April 28th) for the Provo River Trail Grand Opening

Gather your family, friends and neighbors and  join Mayor John Curtis for a spring bike ride to celebrate the re-opening of the Provo River Trail. Experience the reconstructed, lighted tunnel under the freeway, completed six months ahead of schedule as part of UDOT’s I-15 Corridor Expansion (I-15 CORE). All riders are welcome. Refreshments provided.

Come for the whole ride, or choose the ride length that best works for you and your family. We’ll start at 11:00 a.m at the mouth of Provo Canyon, will ride by 2230 N. and University Ave at 11:15 a.m. and will be at Paul Ream Park on the trail for the Grand Opening Event at 11:30 a.m. Come out to support bikes and projects like this in Provo! Can’t wait to see you there!

Provo Police Department Reactivates Their Bicycle Team

Officers on bicycles are a huge benefit to any community: they are more accessible, can easily identify problems that can’t be seen from a car, and can better patrol areas like trails. The Provo bicycle community is so excited to note that several officers in our community are moving to two-wheels. Here’s the official scoop:

 On March 28th, 2012, at 3:00 pm, the Provo Police Department will reactivate their Bike Team, in an effort to pro-actively enforce the City of Provo.

This nine person Bike Team is a perfect fit for our Community Based Policing philosophy. Officers on this team will focus on pro-active enforcement in our neighborhoods. They will focus on quality of life issues that degrade our city and its citizens.

During officer’s proactive times, they will get out of their patrol car and hop on their police bicycle. An officer on a bicycle can have a different perspective then an officer in a patrol vehicle. Moving around a neighborhood can provide them more opportunities to meet the public face to face.

The Bike-Team is just one more piece of the puzzle that fits into the Community Based Policing program. Each piece helps us to reinforce our vision and bring us closer to our citizens. This program will enhance the officer’s ability to be assertive in their policing, problem solving, and partnership efforts.” Rick Gregory, chief of police.

Officers will also focus on high incident areas that are inaccessible to officers in patrol cars, like the Provo River Trail. The Fourth of July Parade, bike rodeos, and pedestrian safety fairs will also be part of their special enforcement responsibilities.

Hurrah for Provo Bicycle Officers! We’re glad to have you keeping our streets safe!

Making the Provo River Trail a Safer Place for Cyclists and Pedestrians


After the devastating sexual assault on the Provo River Trail last month, a lot of dedicated people have come together to help make the trail a safer place to walk or ride a bike.

At a recent Bicycle Committee Meeting Officer Crosby made it very clear that the blame for rape is 100% with the perpetrator and that women should feel safe using the trail.

At the same time, there’s a lot that the community can do to encourage use of the trail and make it a safer place for everyone. The Provo River Trail is such an amazing resource in our community (what other city has a scenic, car-free trail that can take people all over the city – from the Lake, to the airport, up into the canyon). We think the trail is worth fighting for.  Read more

Cyclists Ride the Provo River Trail for Safety Awareness on Women’s Day

Yesterday, a friendly group met at the Provo Bicycle Collective for a safety awareness ride on the Provo River Trail. Rather than avoiding the trail, we’re encouraging cyclists to use the trail as often as possible (with a friend or two, of course). The more of us that use the trail, the safer it will be for all of us.

The group packed the house at Coffee Pod for the International Women’s Day Poetry Reading.

Thanks to Kate Chandler and everyone else that spent time organizing and advertising the ride. And, thanks to everyone that came to participate and make the safety ride such a success.

Keep watching the blog for some big updates on what is being done to make the Provo River Trail a safer place to ride.

Safety Awareness Provo River Trail Ride Today

Don’t forget to come to the Safety Awareness ride tonight, for a chance to spend some time with the Provo cycling community and fight back against the sexual assaults that have happened on the trail.

Here’s the essential info from the Safety Awareness Ride event on Facebook:

We will be riding the River Trail towards Coffee Pod in honor of the people and families that have been affected by incidents on the River Trail in Provo. This ride is to raise awareness of safety on the trail and to prevent issues like rape and accidents from happening there in the future. We will start the ride at 7pm SHARP! So please be there between 630 and 645. We will then hop on the trail and ride it towards Coffee Pod for their women’s poetry night! This is a very important ride and it will really help us gather as a community in support of safety. Please invite everyone to this! See you there!

The address for the Provo Bicycle Collective is: 1100 W.

photo credit: ferligabue