College Connector Trail Event Report

On Saturday, April 13, UTA hosted an event to celebrate the reopening and improvements of the College Connector trail.

UTA was well-prepared with swag, donuts (covered in green and blue frosting for UVU and BYU, of course!), and gift cards for those who biked the farthest to get to the event, took transit the farthest, etc. BYU’s Cosmo the Cougar and UVU’s Willie the Wolverine also showed up!

Jim Price of Mountainlands Association of Governments and Aaron Skabelund of BikeWalk Provo gave short speeches about the history of the trail and its new improvements. The trail was completed in partnership with UDOT, Provo, Orem, and MAG in the early 2000’s. It now gets about 10,000 riders per month using it, many for commuting purposes. And thanks to UTA’s UVX project, the trail will be even more pleasant for those riders to use. The College Connector trail has been resurfaced in many areas and has improved lighting. If you haven’t ridden it yet, get out there!

April BikeWalk Provo Meeting

Meeting Agenda
Thursday, April 4, 5pm
Provo City Community Development Conference Room

  • Bike month (Austin Taylor)
  • 2019 bike infrastructure improvements (Jared Penrod, Provo City Engineering) Final list of projects?
  • Bike share (Austin Taylor)
  • College Connector event: Saturday, April 13, 11 am at Carterville Park, celebration of trail improvements (Aaron Skabelund)
  • Save Dixon Middle School (Mary Wade)
  • Tactical urbanism project idea for Provo? (Chris Wiltsie)
  • Resuming Babes with Babes on Bikes (Mary Wade)

Two Major Road Redesigns This Summer: 500 West and Bulldog Boulevard

500 West Redesign
Construction starts in March! 500 West (from 300 S to Bulldog Blvd) will be made safer by controlling left turns, adding bike lanes, and making the curb and gutter less dramatic.

See the full project here.

Bulldog Boulevard Redesign
Construction starts in March! Bulldog Boulevard (From Columbia Lane to Canyon Road) will be made safer by controlling left turns and adding protected bike lanes.

For project updates, please see this page and subscribe to email updates.

Join Us! 800 East Sign Placement Ride

800 East in Joaquin, Provo has been designated a neighborhood bikeway. It’s an ideal north-south connector between Center Street and BYU.

BikeProvo volunteers have created a pathway that connects this route to the King Henry/Centennial/Belmont housing areas. Provo City has painted sharrows along the street. Now it’s time to put up signs to encourage cyclists and drivers to share the road.

Join us as we place “share the road” signage along the new 800 E bikeway in Joaquin, Provo.

We expect the project to take less than an hour, and we’ll ride to a local coffee shop–probably Peace on Earth–for a warm drink afterward.

Meet at the Utah County Historic Courthouse this Saturday, January 26 at 10am and we’ll head over to the 800 E stretch.

5 Strategies for Planning for Walking, Biking, & Transit

A friend recently pointed out that while we often talk about culture in making walking, biking, or transit more viable options for our transportation, an equally important component may be planning.

This statement especially resonates when traveling with kids. If I don’t make a solid plan, weather, time constraints, and just plain life are more likely to sweep us back into our car. So here are a few ways planning helps us in our resolve.

#1: Plan for secure, convenient storage: I have been absolutely loving our garage for the past few years (see below for how we hang our bikes in a convenient place near the doors for easy grab-and-go) and I recognize what a privilege it is.

But we also spent 7 years in a 3rd floor condo, during which we kept our bikes locked to the bike racks outside. Sometimes, we did have to deal with unfortunate bike part theft, but we learned that a u-lock/cable combo did the trick in keeping it safe. I kept my daughter’s bike seat in a closet so I could easily grab it on our way down for a ride.

Planning for as much convenience for ourselves as possible in the way we store our gear makes a big difference in our active transportation goals.

#2: Plan for gear: As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just wrong gear.” I used to think that in order to ride in the winter, I would need a ton of crazy gear. Now I know that if I keep a few simple items on hand, it’s more doable than I realized.

My super fancy gear. U-lock in all weather, gloves, lights for the early evenings, a couple of running jackets layered, a stretchy infinity scarf I use to keep my face warm (sometimes 2), my high-top Converse from high school to keep my ankles warm. Also, I own two bike bags which I have loved for library books, groceries (inexpensive thermal bag helps in the summer), and diaper bag.

I also like having flexible choices available for our active transportation. Sometimes, I want to walk to the bus station, in which case our folding wagon is fabulous to hold the kids and fold away on the bus or at our destination.

Sometimes I want to bike with just one of our kids, in which case I like the seat; other times we use our trailer.

Our trailer has definitely seen better days, and according to the last owner via KSL Classifieds, it has had at least 3 owners. But it continues to serve us well!

#3: Plan for maintenance: Teach kids to get into the habit of checking their brakes and tires each time they go out. Fill tubes with high-quality sealant like Stans Sealant to help fight thorns. And keep a small pump and patch kit handy (consult Youtube if you aren’t sure how to patch your tube).

#4: Plan for distance: I often plan my entire day based on how long my biking, walking, or transit will take me. I start with the appointment time and work backward with the expected travel time, using Google Maps as a general guide.

Though it is true that this takes more time than just hopping in my car, I always see it as an investment because of all the exercise and family time that it builds into my day. Of course, there are times when jumping in our minivan just makes the most sense, but overall, if I’m in the habit of structuring our day to include walking, biking, or transit, it’s more likely to happen.

#5: Plan for making the most of when we do use the car: When I need to purchase bulk diapers, I try to think of other bulky items I’ll need soon and purchase them in the same trip. If there are several errands I need to run, I try grouping them together in one car trip (see Utah’s Clear the Air Challenge strategy of “trip-chaining.”)

During one of our recent trips to University Place via walking and the new UVX bus line, my kids and I got talking about why we walk, bike, and use transit so often when a car is faster. As we passed the holiday/rush-hour gridlock and packed parking lots, we contrasted that with how we were warmly snuggled along the back row of our bus. I told her that for me, holding my little ones’ hands and cuddling, reading, or snacking during a pleasant walk or ride fills my cup (whereas fighting stressful traffic drains it).

And that is worth planning for.

BikeProvo Instagram Update

Ever noticed how the bike lanes on 500 N end right here–a couple of blocks short of the @provolibrary?
@provocity is considering extending the bike lanes on 500 N from 200 W to 100 E. But we need your help! Please attend this public meeting to voice your support:
Tuesday, January 8, 6:30pm-8pm at the Provo Library

#blog via Instagram

Say Hello to Provo’s Newest Public Pathway and DIY Neighborhood Bikeway on 800 E

This project began with a thought in the middle of the night. The thought occurred after the BYU Campus Bicycle Committee discussed creating a back-streets bike route from Wymount student housing to campus through the Tree Streets as a safe(r) alternative route to 900 E, a narrow, 35 MPH fast but often faster, and dangerous four lane road with minimal shoulder space.

That got me thinking. What other student housing areas do not have safe way to campus? The area around 450 N just east of 900 E came to mind. The area, which includes such mega-apartment complexes as King Henry, Belmont, and Centennial is one of the most densely populated areas in Provo. Shouldn’t bicycling and walking to campus, which is less than a mile away, be an viable option for students and others who live there? But just like, actually even much more than for students who live at Wymount, 900 E acts as a barrier to bicycling and walking to campus for students there. At least from Wymount, there is now a new multi-use trail on the west side of the street that students and others can use. Nothing like that exists on 900 E to the southeast.

We knew from the Provo Bicycle Master Plan that 800 E, a quiet street that runs from Center Street up to 820 N and BYU, had been designated to become a Neighborhood Bikeway (like 200 E) as an alternative to 900 E as well as to narrow, busy 700 E. But how could we get students from that housing area over to 800 without subjecting them to treacherous 900 E?

One night, I woke up and had an epiphany, though admittedly a naive one. Perhaps some property owners would allow us to build a path between their lots to bridge the gap between 900 and 800 E. I decided to jog over there on my morning run and check things out. What I discovered was a dream come true. A pathway already existed. It connected the southwest corner of the bioplasma donation center on 900 E to 800 E. (For those that remember Provo in the 70s, the plasma center was once the Star Palace.) Further research revealed that it was an official city alleyway and therefore public right-of-way. It was once a path that grade school students and others regularly used to get to the Joaquin Elementary School that once stood near 700 E. This path was the key to providing students living in that area with a safe route to campus by foot or bike and could act as an alternative to driving or taking the Ryde student shuttle. All students needed to do was cross 900 at the signalized intersection at 450 N and walk through the block to 800 E and they would be on a quiet street that led them up to campus. Here is a map of the alleyway that was part of the Menlove Plat B Subdivision in 1943.

But this would not be a route unless we made it more appealing and safe and publicized its existence, so active transportation proponents took things into their own hands–literally. In late 2017, volunteers from bikeprovo worked with residents of the Joaquin Neighborhood (who all happened to be part of the bicycling community) to apply for a $5000 neighborhood grant from the city council and secured another $3000 from UTA to make a series of improvements, most of which have now been implemented. Thanks to Wayne Leavitt and others in the Joaquin Neighborhood for all their support. Here are the routes to campus we aimed to create.

This fall, volunteers led by bicycling advocate extraordinaire Marlo Jensen and Colony resident and urban planning major Miles Miller cleared vegetation that had overgrown the pathway and another one that continued westward connecting 800 to the Colony and 700 E as well as 500 N. Here are before and after photos of the latter pathway (looking from opposite directions) between 800 and the Colony.






Also group of residents of the Maeser Neighborhood, through which the 800 E Neighborhood Bikeway will extend via 850 E, supported the project by organizing a goathead weed elimination clean-up along 850 E by the Vista Ridge Apartments on the first Saturday of October. Not only did the project rid the area of thousands of tire-puncturing thorns, it also generated hours to help match the grant received by their neighbors in Joaquin. And it was a lot of fun.

The grant we received was used to pay for surveying work and excavation on the pathway between 900 and 800, which was narrow, asphalt, and in poor condition. Then over two weekends in late October, dozens of volunteers from the bicycling community, the Joaquin and Rivergrove Neighborhoods, and BYU, with invaluable help from the Parks Department (in the form of lending us concrete forms and tools), poured and finished 15 yards of concrete to create a beautiful public pathway. Project organizers thank Western Paving for their donation worth $430 and especially Geneva Rock for its donation of 9 yards of concrete worth around $1350. We are particularly appreciate concrete wizards Terry Smith, Bob Coleman and Zac Whitmore, who directed our efforts.

Meanwhile, the Public Works Department, drawing on the funds we received from UTA, painted bike markings on 800 E from Center Street to 700 N. Thanks to Jared Penrod of Public Works and the Streets Department for being great partners on this project.

To further beautify the pathway, volunteers led by the Provo Bicycle Collective’s Kira Johnson, drawing on a $250 grant from the Mayor’s Office, painted a mural inspired by street artist Leuven’s iconic “Bike Provo” design on a shed next to the pathway. It looks awesome.

The project is not yet quite complete. The city still needs to post “Neighborhood Bikeway” and “BIKES may take the lane” signs and add some more bike markers on the route, and do a curb cut on 820 N to ease bicycle access to the multi-use trail behind J-Dawgs that will take bicyclists and pedestrians up to the scramble intersection at 900 N and East Campus Drive (which is much safer than the 700 E/900 N/South Campus Drive intersection). Also, pedestrian access from 450 N to the intersection at 900 E is less than ideal. On the north side of the street along VASA Fitness, there is not a sidewalk and pedestrians must walk around parked cars. On the south side, there is not a sidewalk and usually space to walk along the parking lot but pedestrians have to deal with a trip hazards especially next to the Yoga studio (which was once a Mad Dog bike shop). It is sad that for decades such poor walking conditions have gone unaddressed, but we are hopeful that our efforts will lead to improvements being made there too.

To bring attention to this route, in the coming months we will post signs along this route (as well as along 200 E, another new Neighborhood Bikeway). We are thankful to the Utah County Health Department for a grant to pay for the signs.

We are confident that better bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure will keep residents (and in this case especially students) safe, encourage them to be more physically active, give them additional transportation options, and improve their quality of life. We are proud of this project, particularly the work of volunteers to construct a pathway for the public, but we urge the city to make improving walkability and bikeability a priority, particularly in areas around BYU, by allocating dedicated transportation funding to building sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure.  According to Census and Department of Transportation data, around 15% of Provo residents walk and bike to work and school, yet our city transportation budget and policies are almost entirely focused on encouraging and facilitating driving. Provo has achieved this 15% mode shares through circumstance (primarily by BYU requiring most of its single students to live within a 2 mile radius of campus) RATHER than city policies that fairly and wisely fund modes of transportation according to their actual current ratios and according to which ones are best for our quality of life and quality of air. We also urge the city and BYU to work collaboratively to reduce single-occupant auto commutes to campus and maximize those completed on transit, by bike, and on foot. Advocates of walking and bicycling are stepping up and acting. It is time for our elected leaders, city officials, and largest employers to do so as well.