By Melissa Porter, Health Promotions Division, Utah County Health Department
The League of American Bicyclists has designated the Utah County Health Department as a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Business. The application is very well put together and easy to fill out. The employees at the League of American Bicyclist were very helpful. Per my request they sent me an example of another county health office application from a previous year. The application example was helpful when filling out the application. The League employees are more than willing to answer my questions.
When we were named a BFB, the League provided us with feedback that is very detailed and specific to our organization. The Health Department is proud to be Provo’s second BFB, and our goal is become a Silver-level BFB within the next four years.
Being a bicycle friendly business means that we are working toward a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers and other residents of Provo. It also means helping our communities be safer, happier, healthier and more sustainable through bicycling. For more information please visit the League of American Bicyclist website: http://bikeleague.org/business
In my work at Bicycle Collective, I’ve met fellow bicycle advocates throughout the state and heard their experiences biking in their respective cities.
Just in the past month I’ve heard horror stories from a friend in Ogden about having glass bottles thrown at her from a vehicle whizzing past. I’ve heard from dozens of mountain biking enthusiasts in the Salt Lake area who have had their $3,000+ bikes stolen from their garages.
No, Provo is not immune to these sorts of problems; it has its fair share, but I’d like to offer a positive outlook from personal experience. Though we have much to improve, Provo is a bike-friendly city.
I’ve bike commuted since 2012 and have seen the worst of it; cyclists speeding toward me head-on riding the wrong way in the bike lane, inattentive drivers swerving into my travel area, and that guy in the lifted pickup who laughs as he drives past you, rolling coal all the way. We’ve all had one too many encounter with that guy.
But while completing my annual post-finals century ride around Utah Lake last week, I was more than pleasantly surprise to not have even one negative encounter with a motorist. Keep in mind this includes suburban sprawl like Eagle Mountain and tiny farming towns like Elberta, typically seen as bicycle un-friendly.
While riding, I reflected on my past two years of bike commuting in Provo and tried to recall any sour memories, but I couldn’t! In fact, since returning from my mission in 2015, I haven’t had a single negative experience with a motorist that was caused intentionally.
Some may think it’s just luck, but I believe that our presence, as normal people who choose to transport ourselves bike, is noticed and respected. Thanks to the incredible support from local agencies like Provo City, Provo Bicycle Committee, and my fellow staff and all our 400+ volunteers at Provo Bicycle Collective who jointly push for bike safety and even dedicate a whole month to celebrating cycling, biking to and fro has never been safer or more fun.
Take a ride around the city today and realize what a great place we live in. Yes, Provo has shortcomings to overcome before becoming a model city, but it is a bicycle-friendly city and becoming more so each day.
As the final touches of landscaping and paint our applied along 300 South the past few weeks, Provo’s first bicycle-friendly intersection at 200 East/300 South is getting rave reviews. Here is one from from Tony Dittmer of the Maeser Neighborhood, who lives just north of 300 South:
“I work up in Lehi and take the FrontRunner when I bike to work. In the past crossing 300 South has been such a pain. Recently UDOT installed a new bicycle signal at 300 South and 200 East. I love this intersection. I have often looked for paths that were less busy for biking. I prefer not to ride close to heavy traffic. In the past I would have to ride on the shoulder or University Avenue until I passed 300 South, but now thanks to this signal I have a very mellow commute home.
Photos courtesy of Karen Tapahe
200 East has very light traffic and there are signs when you get to the intersection to take the lane. When approaching the intersection you pull into two curbs in the middle of the intersection where there is a friendly sensor and bicycle traffic signal and you don’t have to wait long before it changes and let’s you go right through and across 300 South. Crossing 300 South used to so dangerous, but not now thanks to this signal. The new bike lanes along around 300 South are also very welcome. I love Provo and the steps we are taking to make it better.”
The Utah County Health Department now has covered bike racks!! The bike racks were donated by Utah Transit Authority (UTA). They are being used by department employees and visitors to the county offices.
When Melissa Porter, a department health educator and member of the Provo Bicycle Committee, noticed the current bike racks were only available outside, with nothing protecting them from rain, snow and ice, she began her quest to install bike racks in the parking garage located east of the Health Department building.
Melissa worked with Brady Christensen, Building and Grounds Division Manager, to identify a location and to install the bike racks. She also designed wayfinding signs. Melissa said, “Signs are key to letting people know you have bike racks available. We hope this will encourage employees to bike to work.”
The bike racks are being promoted through the employee email system, the county newsletter, and through their Facebook page.
On February 23 , 2017, Melissa and her co-workers had a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the racks for use. “It was a lot of fun using the big scissors,” Melissa exclaimed.
Because of the popularity of PBC’s Earn-a-Bike program, they’ve decided to launch a new camp for youth ages 6-18.
“Provo Bicycle Collective is excited to announce a summer full of programs designed to help youth learn problem-solving, safe riding, and bicycle mechanic skills!
Bike School is a week-long day camp designed to teach youth safe bike riding and basic bike mechanics through hands-on experience. They experience everything from fixing a flat, to learning how to ride safely to school, to riding their bike on the Bonneville Shoreline mountain bike trail.
• Fix common mechanical issues, fixing a flat tire, adjusting brakes & gears
• Properly use hand brakes and shifters (for older riders)
• Ride courteously on paved trails
• Ride safely and confidently in the road, including using signals and lights
• Securely lock bicycle
• Ride confidently on beginner mountain bike trails
On April 5th, a half dozen Provo residents joined hundreds of other Utahns— everyday riders, bicycle and trail advocates, representatives from Utah’s bicycle industry, planners, engineers, representatives from Utah’s tourism industry and health fields, and local and state government officials—at the annual Utah Bike Summit held at Salt Palace. This year’s theme was Shifting into High Gear and focused on how to make Utah even more bicycle friendly. Here are the ideas that a few of them found the most interesting:
Austin Taylor, Joaquin Neighborhood
My biggest takeaway from the bike summit was the need to make cycling culture inclusive. Bicycle enthusiasts should not self-identify as “cyclists.” We’re normal people just like everyone else, we just happen to use cycling as our form of transport because it makes sense. If we reach out and make it easier to do what we do, more people will cycle with us.
Hugh Van Wagenen, Joaquin Neighborhood
Healthy Communities Through Active Transportation
Jordan Mathis of the Tri County Health Department gave a very insightful presentation about the correlation between people’s health and their modes of transportation. He began by pointing out what factors determine health status among individuals: medical care, human biology, environment, and lastly lifestyle. Lifestyle accounts for 50% of a person’s health status, which is the largest influencer of someone’s health. This is where active transportation, i.e. walking and biking, can play a major role in improving individual health in the United States. Walking and biking for daily transportation trips create an exercise routine that people don’t have to think about. But in order to increase active transportation trips, proper infrastructure must be built to protect vulnerable cyclists and pedestrians. “Remember, you are not only investing in infrastructure,” Mathis reminded the audience, “you are investing in human capital.”
Utah Department of Transportation
Shane Marshall of UDOT spoke about the culture change within the state’s transportation department. The DOT is now trying to actually be a department of transportation rather than a department of roads. Every project at UDOT is now considering active transportation improvements. Carolos Braceras, Director of UDOT, is really leading out on this change. UDOT, however, is a mighty large ship and it will take some time to fully bring her about. Mr. Marshall held a lengthy Q&A session where he was very open about UDOT’s policies. Personally, I think it is important to stay involved and influence UDOT as much as possible as they control major corridors through our communities. At the same time, our local jurisdictions probably have way more corridor miles that cyclists and pedestrians will be using. Influencing our local elected officials to make active transportation a priority will probably due far more to advance the cause than banging constantly on UDOT’s door.
Salt Lake City Projects
Staff members from Salt Lake City’s transportation department discussed several projects that have been recently implemented in the City. Among the most notable were the 300 South protected bike lanes, 200 West protected bike lanes, and protected intersection at 200 West 300 South. Salt Lake has done a ton of public outreach on these projects and collected a lot of data before and after construction. I had the chance to ride small sections of these projects and they rock. Hopefully, all the strides SLC has been making in the active transportation arena won’t come to a shrieking halt with the new administration. If you haven’t ridden these protected routes, jump on Frontrunner with your bike and check ‘em out.
Scott Shea, Franklin Neighborhood
The Utah Bike Summit really opened my eyes. I attended the breakout session, “Leveraging Bicycle Tourism in Utah.” The presentations sparked two realizations:
1) As a cyclist I realized the opportunity to take a cycle-cation, using my bike to travel around Utah and see some of the remote areas typically forgotten when using the freeways at 75 mph. These scenic locations are small towns with great personalities and lots to see and do. Cycle-cations can fit into any budget, either the shoe-string economy budget where you camp out in a local park with Top Ramen, to the credit card budget that includes a hotel room, hot shower, and going out to eat. I love to find little gems around Utah and biking through them would be an even bigger plus!
2) Provo has the potential to cater to touring bicyclists. We have all the amenities for all kinds of cyclists, including hotel rooms, camp grounds, restaurants, attractions, and a cycling culture. Provo can also be used as a hub for daily rides on a cycle-cation where visitorscan circle Utah Lake, climb Provo Canyon, or enjoy the Provo River Trail. We should work with the city and surrounding businesses to encourage cyclists to come visit Provo. We can utilize our Frontrunner station and invite everyone to come to the end of the line and go exploring!
Cycle-cations and increasing cycle tourism can also benefit Provo residents. We can benefit all cyclists by promoting the Bicycle Benefits program (http://www.bicyclebenefits.com/#/home). Local
business can offer discounts when you show up on your bike! Residents buy the $5 program helmet sticker at any of the participating businesses and then by showing your helmet at the business you get some determined discount. Salt Lake is actively participating in the
program, with grocery stores offering 10% off, restaurants offering free drinks, bicycle and other shops offering discounted services. We can capitalize on the bargain hunting nature of Utah County by promoting this program in our city which will encourage more bike riding in Provo. I know I would certainly ride my bike if it meant I got a discount!
Aaron Skabelund, Rivergrove Neighborhood
I appreciated the historical perspective that public health care expert Mathis took in his presentation. He argued that the United States puts far too much money into medical care rather than encouraging health lifestyles that would help prevent lifestyle diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. In 1900, the top three killers were communicable disease; now the top killers are chronic diseases that can be prevented through changes in lifestyle. Land use policies matter. Cities used form based zoning to separate residential areas from industrial areas. That was good in 1900, but is not good now. There is no reason for offices, stores to be entirely separated from residential areas. One of the legacies of such policies is that it has contributed to sprawl. Utah ranks second in the country in its rate of urban sprawl in the last ten years.
It is much for effective to address these challenges by creating organic opportunities that are built in people’s lives, like walking and bicycling to work, for people to be physically active rather than engineered exercise like a gym membership that people have to plan for and schedule into their lives. Utility cycling—using a bicycle to get to work and school and to run errands—Mathis concluded, can make a significant contribution to increased levels of physical activity and improving health.
During the QforA with UDOT’s Marshall, I asked him how we might persuade UDOT to narrow lane width to 10’ from 12’ and mentioned that on University and 300 South we were able to get them down to 11’. He said he was impressed that we were able to get UDOT regional officials to agree to 11’ and see that as a significant accomplishment.
The keynote speaker was urban designer and urban-mobility expert Mikeal Colville-Andersen, the founder and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Co. Team, which consults with cities on bicycle planning issues. He gave an extended and localized version of his fabulous TED talk, drawing on his experiences growing up in Calgary, living now in Copenhagen, and his observations of Utah. Here is a link to his TED talk and an interview with him the next day on KUER’s RadioWest. Definitely worth a listen!
Come make new friends and enjoy a slow paced 3 mile ride around Provo. Everyone is invited to participate – bring your kids, family and neighbors! The ride will end at Writ & Vision (274 Center St) just in time for the 7:00 pm Art Discussion.
You can choose to ride home from there or attend the Art Discussion featuring a roundtable panel commemorating the impact of women on the growth of Provo. Learn more about the Art Discussion here.
from Aaron Skabelund, Provo Bicycle Committee Chair
When the Provo Bicycle Committee came up with the slogan, “2015: The Best Year for Bicycling in Provo (Yet),” we had no idea it would be such a good year. Here is a look back (with links) of how 2015 exceeded all expectations and advanced the goal of making Provo a more bicycle-friendly community and great bike town.
After several years of presenting a Mad Dog Bicycle’s Cycles’ Bicycle Commuter Golden Spoke Award at the Mayor’s Bike to Work Ride in May, the Committee presented its first ever Canyon Bicycles’ Winter Bicycle Commuter Golden Spoke Award to Lexi Williamson at a city council meeting in January. Look for this 2016 honoree later this month.
In the months that followed the Committee arranged for Provo School District to obtain Mountainland Association of Government funding to receive consulting from Alta Planning + Design of how to make the new schools it is building bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
In May, Provo hosted the Utah Bike Summit (and mountain bike pioneer and keynote speaker Gary Fisher) for the first time ever. The summit had its biggest turnout ever. Check out this news broadcast video and the mayor’s welcome video to summit attendees.
Early that month, Provo also hosted 50 transportation planners and engineers from along the Wasatch Front for a Bike Utah Mobility Active Transportation Tour and showed off Provo’s (and BYU’s) bikeways.
The Committee expanded what was once Bike to Work Day and Bike to Work Week into Bike Month for the first time in 2015. In addition to the Mayor’s Bike to Work Event, we helped organize multiple rides, the third-annual Bike Prom sponsored by the Department of Recreation, the Mayor’s Provo Bike Challenge, and the International Ride of Silence and Douglas Crow Memorial Dedication to honor bicyclists who have killed or injured including one of our own in 2013. (In November, Committee members played a central role in organizing a Ride of Silence for Stacy Bown, an Orem bicyclist who died after she and her husband were struck by a car while crossing University Parkway. That ride has led to formation of the Orem Bicycle Committee in 2016.)
Rainstorm after rainstorm delayed another event that was to be held in May–the Complete the Street 200 East Tactical Urbanism Party. But residents of the Joaquin Neighborhood who took the lead in organizing the event could not be denied. In early June, they made temporary changes to three blocks of the street, included bike sharrow markings and other traffic calming elements, to build support for its transformation into a Neighborhood Greenway that will run from 800 North to 600 South. Watch for another such event somewhere else in Provo in 2016.
On July 4th, the Committee was honored to bicycle with Mayor Curtis down University Avenue in the Freedom Festival Parade.
In August, Mayor Curtis made the epic announcement that protected bike lanes are coming to Bulldog Boulevard. The project–planned for 2017–will not only transform what is now one of the most dangerous streets for bicyclists (and pedestrians), but it will also build support for similar changes elsewhere in Provo.
Even more unexpected was the mayor’s announcement in September that bike lanes would be included on downtown University Avenue as part of the construction of Bus Rapid Transit, for which work will start this spring. Thanks to Mayor Curtis in his negotiations with UDOT for reviving a goal that the Committee had fought hard for years ago and given up on, and ensuring that this stretch of the downtown will become a complete, multi-modal street.
Also in September, the Committee organized the Fifth Annual Bike to School Week encouraging hundreds of K-12 students to get to and from school using the most efficient form of locomotion. This year Rock Canyon Elementary had the greatest number of bicyclists and received the Rad Rider’s Award from Mayor Curtis. Thanks to all of Provo’s bike shops for their support of Bike to School Week. We could not do it without them.
In October, the League of American Bicyclists recognized BYU as a bronze-level bicycle friendly university, which led the administration to turn what had been an ad hoc, unofficial Campus Bicycle Committee into an official university committee from 2016.
In November, Provo residents elected David Harding, a year-round bicycle commuter (from the Dixon Neighborhood to his workplace in Orem) whom the Mayor presented the Golden Spoke Award in 2014, and David Knecht and George Stewart, who have also indicated their support for a more bicycle-friendly community, to the city council, and passed a RAP tax, which will help fund dramatic improvements to the Provo River Trail, the city’s most popular park, starting this year.
And all year long, the Provo Bicycle Collective has served as an invaluable resource for the bicycling community. Thanks to the efforts of its new manager Austin Taylor and many volunteers, the Collective is thriving as never before.
Wow, what a great year! 2015 was the best year for bicycling yet. Even better things are to come. Please join us in helping them come to pass.
It’s the University Ave. plan unveiling we’ve been waiting for. Learn about –and have a role in shaping– the upcoming bus rapid transit system and bicycle and pedestrian improvements made possible by it at this open house on Thursday, November 12th from 5-7 at the Provo Library.
Come for a leisurely night time ride and discover all of Provo City’s ghost stories, haunted houses and local folklore.Both the believer and the skeptic will enjoy this eerie tour, but we are pretty sure you will be believing once you’re done. Find out more on their website.