BYU alum designs metro-style biking paths for Provo

Matt Wilcox’s passion for biking has inspired him to design a safe, easy-to-navigate bike route for Provo. (Matt Wilcox)

BYU alum Matt Wilcox designed a plan to make biking in Provo easy, safe and colorful. He noticed the difficulties of traveling by bike while studying urban planning at BYU five years ago and planned a protected bike route to counter issues Provo bikers face.

Wilcox’s idea is to build painted bike lanes that correspond to colored lines, much like a public transit map. These clearly marked lanes in a functional network could make biking safer and easier, especially for inexperienced bikers.

“This is an easy way to get around,” Wilcox said. “You know that you’ll be comfortable and safe when you’re in this network.”

One of Wilcox’s biggest complaints about current Provo biking accommodations is that inconsistent access to bike lanes make the city difficult and dangerous to navigate.

“I felt like bike networks are not as coherent and complete like a road network,” he said. “There’s never a moment when you’re driving your car and all of a sudden the road disappears for three blocks until you get to another road.”

Matt Wilcox proposed this series of colored routes which would allow Provo residents to navigate bike paths with a transit-style map. (Matt Wilcox)

Provo resident and biking community member Scott Houghton expressed excitement about the project.

“I think it will help a lot of people who are wanting to ride their bikes but don’t know how or where they can ride. Provo is a city that is perfect for bike commuters, but the infrastructure is lacking,” Houghton said. “This bike map is a really great tool.”

The plan, which Wilcox has named the Provo Line, is just one of three Provo-based biking projects Wilcox is designing as part of his master’s degree studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He plans to present his ideas to the Provo City Council.

Austin Taylor, parking and sustainability coordinator for Provo, said it would be difficult to implement colored bike lanes because of national standards restricting the number of painted markings allowed on city streets.

“It’s probably not going to lead to anything physical, anything on the ground,” Taylor said, adding potentially high costs as another hindrance to the project.

Despite these hurdles, Wilcox said he remains optimistic that the city council will find his ideas and designs useful, even if they can’t implement them in their entirety.

Wilcox plans to work for his family business, which designs communities and builds homes, after finishing his master’s degree. Though he no longer lives in Provo, he said he wants to stay involved with any of his projects that might go forward in the city.

“I’m irrationally still interested in Provo’s development,” he said. 

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