By Katie Laird
Some people think Superman only flies in the sky. They”re wrong.
Jacob Griffin has proved that it”s possible to fly on a bicycle.
“You”re riding along and you just stick your legs out so that your chest is almost horizontal on the seat,” said the sophomore from Pennsylvania majoring in biology teaching.
Griffin and his wife Heidi, a senior majoring in statistics, are among the many students who have found that bikes are a great solution to saving time, money, and keeping off those extra pounds. In weather like today”s, however, a car or bus suddenly becomes much more appealing.
“You try riding down a hill in the driving snow at 30 mph,” Heidi said. “You can”t see anything and the cold is blasting against your face. It”s really painful.”
Often overlooked for the convenience and comfort of cars, bicycles are proving to be a more popular mode of transportation with students and commuters alike.
Curt Thompson, manager of Provo”s Bingham Cyclery, has seen a large increase in the sale of bicycles over the last year.
“You can”t ride any significant amount without getting some sort of benefit out of it,” he said.
Historically, Provo has not been a biker-friendly city, with few bike racks and practically no bike lanes in the roads. But the bike committee at city hall is pushing for a change, and Thompson thinks more bike lanes will soon be springing up on the roads of Provo.
“But definitely now whenever Provo City builds a new road, there will be a bike lane. In the next couple years it”s going to be drastically different,” he said.
The city itself might not be very bicycle aware, but Utah County is world renowned for avid bike riders, said Thompson.
“The whole of Utah County is kind of a Mecca as far as cycling goes. There”s world class riding around here,” he said. “For mountain bikes there are canyons any direction you want to go. In American Fork canyon there are just plenty of trails up there, and that canyon is absolutely gorgeous.”
If one is looking for a lightweight bike with higher speed capabilities to ride around the city, Thompson recommends a road bike. An average road bike starts at about $600, and if that”s not in the yearly budget, a mountain bike starts at only $300 and has more durability, with thicker tires and a sturdier frame.
“For road bikes, some of the roads around here aren”t too good,” Griffin said. “I think Provo”s more of a car city.”
Contrary to popular belief, helmets are not required by the city, but licenses are, especially if one wants any chance of recovering their bike in the case of theft.
“Most people don”t know anything about their bikes, so it makes it very difficult to prove it was theirs,” said Lt. Greg Barber of the University Police.
Having a serial number stamped onto the bike greatly increases the chance of recovery of the bike, and even if the owner engraves his or her own distinctive marks onto the bike and can describe them in detail to the police, they can usually tell it belongs to that person.
In 2003 there were 33 bikes stolen on BYU campus. That number decreased by 12 the following year with only 21 being stolen, but went up again last year with 29 bikes taken.
“Honestly, there are hardly any bikes recovered after they”ve been stolen,” said Captain Harroun of the University Police. “Bikes are stolen for one of three reasons: they dissemble the bike to sell the parts, rearrange the parts so it”s not recognizable, or just ride the bike from point A to point B.”
Lt. Barber said that there are 20-30 bikes sitting in the impound lot at any given time until they are shipped over to the surplus sale and sold, having never been successfully identified by their original owner.
The rules about riding bikes on campus are posted at each bike rack, and each have a specific reason for being enforced. For example, police discourage students from riding their bikes through central campus, which is the reason no bike racks can be found anywhere besides on the edges of campus. There is no riding allowed during class breaks, and bike riders are required to go no faster than 3 mph. Some students find these rules a little difficult to follow.
“How are you supposed to know how fast you”re going?” Heidi Griffin said.
Her husband can see the principle behind the regulation, but it”s inconvenient.
“It”s an understandable rule, but it”s kind of frustrating not being able to ride between classes,” Jacob Griffin said.
Some students think it would be a good idea to have designated bike routes on campus in order to allow students a faster alternative to get to their next class.
Despite the drawbacks, with increases in bus fare, fewer parking spaces, rising pollution levels and obesity, pushing those pedals suddenly becomes much more appealing.