By Phil Sarnoff
At Bike Utah, we had another great year of advancing all types of bicycling all around the state. More and more communities, agencies, businesses, and individuals are seeing the benefits that bicycling brings to Utah. Below are some of the initiatives we have been pursuing, the progress we made in 2018, and where things are headed in 2019:
Wasatch Bike Plan
Through the Wasatch Bike Plan initiative, we are working to make sure every municipality in the four Wasatch Front counties has an adopted active transportation plan. We’re trying to ensure that every community is making safe, connected bicycle routes a priority.
When the initiative started in 2016, approximately 13% of Wasatch Front communities had adopted active transportation plans. As we wrap up 2018, the percentage of communities with plans that are adopted or funded is now at 46%. We have another 10-12 communities in the pipeline to pursue plan funding in 2019.
1,000 Miles Campaign
In May 2017, Governor Herbert initiated the 1,000 Miles Campaign to build 1,000 new miles of family-friendly bike paths, lanes, and trails by 2027. Bike Utah was designated as the nonprofit partner to carry out this campaign and facilitate the building of the 1,000 miles.
In 2018, we added our 1,000 Miles Campaign Director to formally kick off the program. The Program Director serves as a free consultant for communities interested beginning or continuing the development of bicycling in their area.
Youth BEST Program
The Youth Bicycle Education and Safety Training (BEST) Program teaches more than 3,000 Utah kids every year how to safely and confidently get around by bicycle. The Program is a 5-hour, in-class and on-bike program taught at schools around Utah, targeting students in the 4th to 7th grades. Bike Utah provides trained instructors, bicycles, helmets, and all other equipment for the duration of the program at no cost.
We completed the second year of the Youth BEST program in 2018 reaching 3,127 students all across Utah. Moving into 2019, we will be adding a second truck so we have the capacity to reach 6,000 students each year.
Utah Bike Summit
The Utah Bike Summit is the state bicycle conference, open to bicycle enthusiasts and advocates, elected officials, bike shops, manufacturers, infrastructure engineers, planners, transportation professionals, health officials, tourism professionals, and the general public. This one-day event features speakers, training sessions, networking opportunities, and discussions focusing on how to make Utah a better place to ride.
The 2018 Utah Bike Summit had more than 275 attendees from all across the state. We are hosting the 2019 Utah Bike Summit at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi on March 5th. Anyone interested in making Utah a better place to ride should join us at the next summit.
Mid Week MTB Race Series
The Mid Week MTB Series provides a consistently fun, challenging mountain bike racing experience for riders of all ages and ability levels at venues throughout the Salt Lake Valley, Wasatch Front, and Wasatch Back. Proceeds from the Mid Week MTB Series benefit the Youth BEST program.
Earlier this year, the Mid Week MTB Series was gifted to Bike Utah. This provided a great opportunity to engage more with the mountain biking community and to support our programs and projects. Over the course of the 2018 season, we saw more than 1,000 unique racers at cross country and mini-enduro races across the Wasatch Front and Back.
Momentum for all types of bicycling continues to grow across Utah. The progress in the last few years has been astounding and we know these efforts can be accelerated. The biggest limiting factor is public support for better bicycling. We need your time, effort, and enthusiasm on behalf of bicycling.
If you are interested in being involved in our programs and initiatives, there are a few things you can do:
• Join our email list to stay updated
• Send us an email about where you would like to be involved
• Support our work by making a contribution to Bike Utah
Visit our website to learn more and get involved: bikeutah.org