By Crys Lee — As a community we have responded to these difficult times by heading to our streets, trails, and pathways to find solace, comfort and to keep our sanities. Strava data provided by Utah DOT and Strava Metro found that ridership has increased significantly in total cycling trips taken in Utah. In April 2019, the number of total trips was around 107,000 compared to over 192,000 in April 2020. This is a mere snapshot of the increase that has occurred these past few months and we expect the trend will continue. What we are seeing throughout Utah is that people are embracing cycling as a way to keep their families safe, healthy, and active.
Bike Utah is continuing work with local governments and partners throughout the state to create family-friendly bike lanes and trails, to educate youth about road safety, and to advocate for active transportation programs that facilitate safe travel while promoting physical distancing.
Here is some of the progress we have made since 2019 and where we are heading in 2020:
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.
When the initiative started in 2016, approximately 13% of Wasatch Front communities had adopted active transportation plans. Now, the percentage of communities with adopted or funded plans is at 70%. Approximately 96% of the population in Salt Lake County now lives in a community that either has an active transportation plan or is working on one. We are grateful to our partners the Wasatch Front Regional Council and Mountainland Association of Governments and the many others who have helped to make all of this possible.
Due to the incredible success and momentum the Wasatch Bike Plan has created we are looking to expand this plan to the entire state as we push for all communities to have safe, connected bicycle routes.
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 to facilitate building the 1,000 miles.
Since the program’s inception in 2017, there have been 304.53 new miles built. We are on track for our goal to hit around 400 new miles by the end of 2020. Our 1,000 Miles Program Director, Chris Wiltsie, continually works to ensure that your communities will have more facilities your families can safely enjoy.
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 4-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 have taught almost 12,000 students across the state since 2016.
Due to current circumstances, the Youth BEST team has shifted their focus to virtual content. Schools are out and students are riding their bicycles more than ever. The staff are working on creating content for students and their parents so they can access information on how to ride safely. You can watch and interact with these videos on Bike Utah’s new TikTok channel, tiktok.com/@bikeutah
Utah Bike Summit
The Utah Bike Summit is the state bicycle conference, not only open to bicycle enthusiasts and advocates, but also, elected officials, bike shops, transportation planners and professionals, health officials 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.
We made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Utah Bike Summit, but look forward to a spectacular event on April 6, 2021 at the Davis Conference Center in Layton. Mark your Calendars!
Mid-Week MTB and PTown Cross 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.
Mid-Week MTB series will look a little different this year as we adjust to keep all our riders and volunteers safe. Our Mid-Week MTB team has put together a dynamic plan that will adjust to the circumstances on the given week of a race. We are thrilled that we are still able to put on a series this year and look forward to seeing you participate. Learn more at: midweekmtb.com
In 2019, Bike Utah took over the P-Town Cross race series. We are pleased to be bringing this cyclocross series back again in the fall! Follow along for details at: ptowncross.com
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
Crys Lee is the Excecutive Director of Bike Utah. Bike Utah collaborates with all levels of government, organizations, agencies, businesses, and the general public to develop active transportation plans, educate thousands of children and adults, increase safety through legislation, and improve quality of life for residents and visitors with more bike lanes, paths, and trails.