Provo plans to expand bike paths


With gasoline costs up and plenty of able cyclists ready to get their cruise on, Provo is jumping into a bike initiative that will advance the city to a new level of green.

Provo city and Mountainland Association of Governments will complete a number of connected bike trails between Orem and Springville within the coming months. These trails are following the Provo bike initiative for inter-connectivity between cities that aims to make Utah County one of the best places to ride in the state.

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New bike lanes on 100 South in Provo are just a few of the lanes that will be added throughout the city in the new Provo bicycle plan.
“This plan is really unique,” said Provo City Council member Sterling Beck, who is on the Provo Bike Committee. “We’re working so the bike paths don’t just end at a dead end, and the hope is eventually that all cities in Utah County will work together and you’ll be able to ride from one end of the county to the other.”



The Provo plan is modeled after the Orem plan that was completed last year, with Lehi and American Fork to follow soon.

“I would like to see the trails be done as quickly as possible,” Beck said, admitting it may take some patience to see the project completed because of the way the project is funded.

The city is not increasing taxes to complete the project. Instead, MAG is offering $100,000 for the study with Provo adding $7,500.

“I think the city could do a better job of promoting the work we’re doing,” Beck said.

According to the bike plan, the new travel system will not only make family bike rides enjoyable, but will also create an easier commute for cyclists.

“It’s really for both people, people who want to exercise and people who want to commute,” Beck said. “But I’m hoping more people will use the bike paths for trips under a mile that people could take by walking or biking, but haven’t done so before because it was a little unsafe without a path.”

Cutting back on traffic and keeping smog levels lower are just some of the reasons Beck believes locals will use the paths.

“This new plan will be huge for Provo and make it so that it will be easier to get anywhere in the city by bike, especially for students,” said Jamie Littlefield of

Beck said he isn’t confident the committee will be able to make the whole city bike friendly, but he hopes to make downtown Provo and other popular areas accessible to cyclists.

“We’d like to double the amount of bike lanes that we have,” he said. “So I’d like to see a 15.5 percent model shift, where people who normally take a car would instead take a bike or walk and that would have a huge, dramatic shift on our traffic patterns.”

According to the proposal, the project will create a comprehensive bicycle facilities master plan for Provo and detail ways to connect existing and planned facilities among Provo and its surrounding communities. One highlight is the plan will incorporate connections to multiple transportation modes, including buses and parking lots.

“I think one of the things we’re seeing is a dramatic change across the nation because a lot of cities are building bike paths to encourage transportation,” Beck said.

Although there are still some decisions that need to be made, the Provo Bike Committee  hopes to have a consultant selected by mid-August.

“We need to make sure we know where the bicycle lanes need to be and we don’t have a contract yet, so that’s going to take some time to acquire that information,” said Casey Serr, manager of planning and development for Provo city. “And then once we see a bike plan that has been put together, it will be implemented as budgets and projects will allow. There is not a set date as to when that will be yet, but once that happens we will begin work.”

Provo Bike Committee members, including MAG representative Jim Price, Bike Committee Chairman Zac Whitmore, GIS analyst Phil Uhl, Beck and many others, will help the city determine solutions to issues such as route feasibility, bike lane funding and more.

The goals of the project include obtaining community consensus, making improvements to bicycle safety, analyzing current conditions, identifying funding sources and developing standards for new facilities.

Matt Widmer, a teacher’s assistant for the BYU mountain biking class, said although the paths are a good idea, they most likely won’t motivate more students to bike to work and school.

“I don’t think the paths really are going to get people to ride bikes more, but it does make it easier for them to do it,” he said. “I think what we really need is to understand that riding bikes doesn’t take that much longer than driving and it’s good for you.”

Widmer said when people understand more about traffic congestion and parking problems they will be motivated to start peddling.

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