By Scott Lyttle
The 2012 Utah Bike Summit: Bike Elevated presented by Bike Utah kicked off Thursday night with a small fundraising event Light Up the Night at Uinta Brewery which gave guests an opportunity to chat one on one with Friday’s keynote speaker, Randy Neufeld of Chicago, Director of the SRAM Fund and Gary Sjoquist from QBP in Minneapolis, two national bike advocates. The intimate gathering was a great way to kick-off Friday’s summit.
Prior to Thursday night’s event, Randy had the opportunity to take a bike tour around downtown Salt Lake City with SLC Division of Transportation and sat down with UDOT and UTA to learn more about their Active Transportation plans, providing Neufeld a chance to educate himself on how cycling in Utah is moving forward.
Friday’s summit opened with Neufeld’s keynote speech outlining three primary areas of focus; Safety, Money and Happiness. All three elements must move forward together to truly accomplish great things in cycling advocacy. Safety, to reduce the number of vehicle/cyclist conflicts; Money, to continue working with state and federal legislatures on dedicated funding for bike infrastructure; and Happiness, to work closely with all members of the community to assure a happy environment where cycling can strive. Randy challenged Bike Utah to continue growing as an organization to become the powerful unified voice of cyclists throughout the state.
Brad Woods followed with the State of Bicycling in Utah report. Brad referenced the League of American Bicyclists 2011 report that ranked Utah 31st with a “D” rating (2012 rankings ranked Utah 13th – see story in this issue) in the Bicycle Friendly State rankings. The 2011 poor rankings set the stage for Wood’s challenge to Utah to improve by 2014. He’d like to see Utah in the top ten state ranking, grow from two Bike Friendly Communities to six, and have at least two Universities in the Bike Friendly Universities category (Utah currently has none). The summit also featured State of the Bike Reports from Beaver, Vernal, Draper, and Brigham City.
During the lunch session Keri Gibson, Department of Public Safety and Tami Cromar, avid cyclists and owner of Ruby Snaps, outlined ways to improve the cyclist/motorist relationships. Gibson helps lead the statewide Road Respect Campaign, which kicks off this year on June 3 and travels throughout Utah spreading the message that respect is a two-way street between cars and bikes.
The summit also featured four break-out sessions that focused on Moving Advocacy Forward, The Latest in Bicycle Technology, Bike Friendly Businesses and the Economic Benefits to Utah’s Towns from Cycling Tourism.
Feedback gathered from the Summit has been positive and Bike Utah is excited about the energy and momentum growing amongst the cycling community. In the year ahead Bike Utah will focus on building from the strategies outlined at the Summit and would like to thank each of the 150 attendees for joining us at the 2012 Utah Bike Summit. If you are interested in helping move our work forward, please log on to www.bikeutah.org.
Scott Lyttle is the executive director of Bike Utah, Utah's statewide advocacy organization.