Provo City will add center-running planted medians and protected bicycle lanes to Bulldog Boulevard next summer in order to improve bike safety, according to a Provo City newsletter.
The Provo City website says Bulldog Boulevard’s crash rate is three times higher than the statewide average, which has drawn the attention and funding of the Utah Department of Transportation and other organizations to make changes to the road. Bulldog Boulevard will be reduced from three lanes to two.
This change is a part of the Provo City Bicycle Master Plan the Provo City Council passed in 2013. The plan makes it easier for people to use bikes for transportation by adding bike lanes and trails, according to Provo Bicycle Committee Chair Aaron Skabelund.
“People who bike matter and their safety matters, and we should make it safer and more convenient for them,” Skabelund said.
The Provo Bicycle Committee is a quasi-official group that works on the bike plan with Provo Mayor John Curtis and the City Council, Skabelund said. Although the plan is now passed, initiating the plan has been difficult because of funding challenges. Skabelund said roads are funded by a transportation utility fee, but road funding cannot be used for bikes or sidewalks. The bike lanes are only added when certain roads are already scheduled to be redone.
“We over generously fund just one mode of transportation — cars — but we don’t have dedicated funding for these other modes of transportation like bikes and walking,” Skabelund said.
BYU media arts major Kaily Goodro spends at least an hour a day during spring and summer biking to places such as her work, campus and the grocery store. Since she doesn’t own a car, she said she enjoys the freedom and the speed of biking. However, she said she often feels unsafe even when using bike lanes.
“My biggest issue is that cars are not watching for bikers, so I’ve had a couple close calls,” Goodro said.
She said one of the worst places is the corner on Bulldog Boulevard in front of Einstein bagels because of its poor visibility for both cars and bikers. She said the idea of a protected bike lane on Bulldog Boulevard is “fantastic.”
BYU health science assistant professor Benjamin Crookston said he commutes to campus by bike a couple times a month. He said a protected bike lane would help.
“From somebody who likes to bike and worries about safety, one of the reasons I don’t bike much on the road is because of safety concerns, so having an actual median in between to protect the bikers is huge,” Crookstone said.
Luecis Turner just moved to Provo and uses his bike to get around. He said he bikes on the sidewalk on Bulldog Boulevard because there isn’t a bike lane, but he thinks Provo is a safe place to bike.
He said the construction on Bulldog Boulevard would “definitely make a difference for tourists.”