Provo Bicycle Committee Member Writes Senior Thesis on Bicycle Advocacy

Hey all,

Austin Taylor here.

I’ve written something I think you all will enjoy.

This week, I graduate from BYU. Since my senior thesis is about bicycle advocacy, I thought I would share it with you all. It focuses on how the quality of our communication makes all the difference in advocacy. My paper contains thoughts from my own experience and from urbanists like Jane Jacobs, Janette Sadik-Khan, and Mikael Colville-Anderson. Because of the type of person you, as a reader of, probably are–engaged, involved, maybe even WOKE–the paper will contain strategies that you can immediately apply in your own activism.

After 193 college credits, two majors, and two minors, I’ve finally graduated. I’m surprised it only took four years. Thank you to my mentors along the way like Dr. Aaron Skabelund of the history department, Dr. Brough and Dr. Coleman of the percussion studio, and Dr. Shumway of Latin American Studies. Thanks also to my wife who has let me be a workaholic for the duration of our marriage so far.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this paper!

Benefits of the Bulldog Boulevard Improvement Project and More Info

The following are a few excerpts from the Project Concept Report, which the Regional Planning Committee used to approve $3 million of MAG funds for the project.  If the project deviates significantly from the Project Scope it will have to go back through the Technical Advisory Committee and be re-approved by the Regional Planning Committee, which consists of all the mayors and county commissioners in Utah County.  If they do not accept changes made to the project the $3 million will be allocated to the next eligible project (Springville 1200 W or Mapleton Lateral Canal Trail).

The Purpose of the Project
“The purpose of the project is to construct a raised center median to eliminate left turn movements along the Bulldog Blvd corridor which has a crash rate that is 3 times higher than the state average for roadways of similar functional class and traffic volumes.  The corridor has a severe crash rate that is 7.5 times higher than the statewide average for roadways of similar functional class and traffic volume.  The project will also eliminate one travel lane in each direction in favor of a protected bicycle lane.  There is a significant number of bicycle crashes on the corridor given the lack of adequate bicycle facilities on this important gateway into the BYU campus.  The project will provide an important bicycle/pedestrian connection from the Provo River Parkway Trail to the BYU campus.”
First Responders Access
“The project will include traffic cameras, and emergency vehicle preemption which will provide maximum benefit to emergency vehicles and traffic operations along the corridor.
Decreased Auto Crashes
The project will reduce accident severity by eliminating high occurence left turn angle crashes and by separating bikes and peds from vehicle traffic.  UDOT Traffic and Safety has evaluated the project and has determined that the project improvements have a total cost/benefit of $4.4 million dollars based on the crash reduction potential of the proposed improvements.
Decreased Congestion
By minimizing the number of driveway accesses, traffic flow along the corridor will improve.
Beautification and Noise Reduction
The project will minimize noise impacts along the corridor adding landscaping features to soften the noise.  The project also provides opportunities for landscaping and other treatments that can be incorporated into the drainage system that will improve water quality of storm runoff”

For more information, see this detailed report from Mountainlands Association of Governments

The Decision to Fund Bulldog Boulevard Improvements is Down to the Wire!

A month or two ago, we told you about the major improvements that were being planned for Bulldog Boulevard. These improvements would dramatically improve safety for a road that is seven times more deadly than average, beautify this ugly street, and, as council member Dave Sewell put it, save lives. However, those improvements may not happen without your voice.

Sadly, many residents intend to keep this street the high-speed, wide-open road is now is. This would maintain the high level of traffic crashes–more than seven times the state average–and continue to discourage cycling. These people have already blasted the city council with messaging in opposition of the project. What do they oppose? An increased car travel time of only four seconds in one direction and forty seconds in the other during peak traffic hours. That’s a small price to pay for safety.

Because of that opposition, the council is split on the decision to fund the project. Currently, three of the seven council members are opposed to the project and one is still undecided. This is too close to call.

We need your voice!

Tomorrow, the city council will be discussing this project and potentially making a decision on wether it should go through or not. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Attend the City Council Work Meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, June 19) and voice your support. We estimate the City Council will begin talking about Bulldog Boulevard at 2:20pm.
  2. Email the City Council to voice your support of the project if you cannot attend. Send your message to Key talking points in support of the project include safety improvements and city beautification. If you drive a car on that road, please mention how unsafe it feels in a car currently.

Don’t wait!Your inaction could cause this project to fail. Join us in voicing your support today!

Looking for BYU Students who Cycle on Bulldog Boulevard

As you are probably aware, the Bulldog project, which will improve safety for all users on this important corridor, is slated to be completed next spring. Yesterday the Campus Bicycle Committee participated in a meeting between Provo City Public Works and BYU’s Physical Facilities about how to make sure there is a safe and seamless transition across Canyon Road and onto campus. To do that will probably require BYU to widen the road slightly at the entrance to campus at 1230 North.

The administration has asked our committee to gather some bike usage data and we agreed that complementing that with some anecdotal evidence, specifically student voices sharing their experiences riding on Bulldog and up 1230 North would help us better make the case to the BYU Campus Planning Committee.

Could you please by next Monday share a paragraph or two about your experience as a bicyclist on Bulldog and 1230 North? (Did you, for example, feel safe riding on the shoulder began before the bike lane began near the entrance to the RB?) Also, if you know of any other students or former students who took that route, despite how dangerous it is, could you please ask them to share their experiences with me by next Monday?

BTW, some opposition to the project has emerged within Provo among those who can’t countenance the thought of an auto lane becoming a protected bike lane so if you could please complete this four-question, one-minute city survey I’d be very appreciative. (Please use your Provo address and please share with others.)

Many thanks,

Aaron Skabelund
Associate Professor
Department of History
Brigham Young University

Advocacy Alert: Provo Needs Your Voice!

Bulldog Boulevard and 500 West Redesigns

Provo is considering plans for Bulldog Boulevard and 500 West that are designed to slow car traffic and add bike lanes.

Sadly, many residents intend to keep these streets the high-speed, wide-open roads they currently are. This would maintain the high level of traffic crashes–more than seven times the state average–and continue to discourage cycling along those routes. These people have already blasted the city government with messaging in opposition of the project.

We need your voice now to encourage our city government to install bicycle-friendly infrastructure so all road users can be safe.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Public Comment on Bulldog Boulevard: Provo City and UDOT want to hear your thoughts on the initial project design. Submit comments to the project team. Contact 888-966-6624 or
  2. Online Comment on Bulldog Boulevard: Follow the link to comment on the proposed design.
  3. 500 West Design Open House: June 13 from 5-7pm at the Provo Recreation Center. Learn more about the project design.
  4. Contact your city council representative and voice your support for bicycle-friendly roads. Call (801) 852-6000 or email

2018 National Bike Summit

This is report on the 2018 National Bike Summit by Elias Flores, who participating in the gathering in early March. My apologies for the delay in posting his report. -Aaron Skabelund

“The National Bike Summit sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists was fascinating. The summit took place in Washington D.C., which is surprisingly bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The capital’s investments in bike-share, bike lanes, and a trail system are paying off. Not only does the district have the second-highest percentage of bike commuters among major U.S. cities, it was awarded gold status as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. The summit featured presentations and workshops about how to make communities more bicycle friendly. I had the opportunity to participate in a mobile workshop on how a large regional university–the University of Maryland in College Park–partnered with city and county partners to establish a bike share system that is open to everyone and is connected to all major destinations. Establishing such a system was not easy. Multiple agencies and organizations wanted their voices to be heard. From this case study, I learned how a travel demand management tool can be implemented in a regional area that spans several different jurisdictions. About 2,500 trips a day are now completed at the university and in the city of College Park. Provo is an ideal place for bike share to be implemented. Doing so will improve our community’s quality of life.”

Bike Racks Make it Convenient to Ride Daily

It’s about 8 am. I walk outside and hop on my bike to head to work. There’s a few kids on bikes headed toward school along with a few adults going to school too. There’s a few others that are on their way to work, like me. Refreshed from my commute to and from work, I roll in to the condominium complex around 5:15 pm. I see some other people coming back from work or school and tons of kids out on bikes. What I don’t see are bike racks. Instead bikes are being locked to trees, stairwells, and light posts or they sit on the grass. You find them on balconies and in stairwells, which makes it inconvenience and difficult to use them daily. We need bike racks!

After working with the HOA board and the management company, we were able to have two bike racks installed at my complex. Don’t let their emptiness fool you. You see, everyone’s out cycling, but by dark the racks don’t seem so lonely.

-Ben McMurry

Impressions of the 2018 Utah Bike Summit

Provo was represented at annual Utah Bike Summit by nearly twenty people who live and/or work in Provo. The contingent rivaled the number of attendees even when the summit was held at the Provo Library back in 2015. Provo attendees included neighborhood chairs, city officials, public health experts, BYU representatives and BYU students, and local tourism officials.

This year’s summit was held at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City on Tuesday, March 13. Many of the Provo participants took Frontrunner to the Murray Station and then enjoyed a lovely ride on the Jordan River Pathway to the venue.

The conference featured keynote speaker, Guillermo Penalosa, the former Commissioner of Parks, Sports and Recreation in Bogotá and chair of 8 80 Cities that is dedicated to simple but powerful philosophy; if you create a great city for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for all people. In addition, officials from regional UDOT offices presented and took questions, and panels explored advocacy, planning & engineering, and health in three sessions of simultaneous presentations. In one of those, committee member and Timp Neighborhood Chair Shannon Bingham and Provo City traffic engineers Jared Penrod and Shane Winters presented on the 500 North active transportation project.

Here are some impressions of some of the Provo attendees:

“Hearing Gil Penalosa speak about healthy, vibrant, and sustainable communities for everyone regardless of age, gender, or social status [was great]. His focus on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles, taking public transit, and new uses of cars was the highlight of the summit for me.”

-Shannon Bingham, Timp Neighborhood Chair

“I went to the bike summit expecting to hear about many of the small details of cycling in Utah. I was so pleasantly surprised when most speakers focused on the broad social impacts that increased cycling can have in Utah. You did not have to be an engineer or planner to understand just how important all of this is.”

-Hayden Andersen, BYU Engineering Student

​”How would you feel walking your city’s streets as an 8 year-old? My biggest takeaway was the 8/80 Rule; the idea that a city should feel as comfortable as an 8 or 80 year-old as it does for a 30 year-old. We must ensure our cities are designed with these groups in mind.​”

-Austin Taylor, Director, Provo Bicycle Collective

“I attended the Bike Summit as a member of the Provo Bike Committee and also as a City Planner with Orem City. It was great opportunity to sit down with bike advocates from across the state and hear about the latest progress on multi-modal infrastructure. In addition, I was particularly inspired by the perspective and energy of Gil Penalosa. He emphasized that roughly 1/3 of our population in the US does not drive, and that when we design cities for the vehicle we in affect design to greatly exclude these members of our society–the young, the old, and the poor.”

-Kirby Snideman, North Park Neighborhood Chair

“I was more pleased and impressed with the process of attending the Bike Summit. The sessions and speakers were very informative and there are great things happening to facilitate active transportation across Utah. However, the experience of commuting from Provo to West Valley City on bike via surface streets, Front Runner, taking the Jordan River Parkway Trail, and the bike valet service at event really opened my eyes to the kinds of routes and amenities that make bicycling accessible, practical and convenient. Taking a bike instead of a car gave added perspective to the topics and appreciation for the presentations. For [many of my fellow Provo participants] it was no big deal to take your bike, but as a new convert, it helped me understand the reality and importance of a different way of being mobile.”

-John Kau, Chair, BYU Campus Bicycle Committee

“I loved the concept of building cities for 8 year olds and 80 year olds. A community safe and comfortable for people of those ages would be radically different environments, positively so, for all inhabitants. Imagine not having to worry about  your daughter or grandmother making their way across the city. Brilliant vision!”

-Hugh Van Wagenen, Joaquin resident and Lindon City Planner

“Once again, learning from people all across the state, the country, and the world about how make Provo an even better place to live by better accommodating and making safe all modes of transportation was invigorating. And it was great not only to think about these principles but to act on them as many of us rode through the streets of Provo, took Frontrunner, and the Jordan River Trail to get to the summit. Thanks to Bike Utah for hosting another great summit.”

-Aaron Skabelund, Rivergrove Neighborhood Co-chair