I’m standing at the LAB booth at Interbike, looking a little lonely, when up comes Brad Woods of Mad Dog Cycles in Orem UT. This guy has been leading the charge to turn Orem into a bike friendly community.
Orem, south of Salt Lake City, sits in the lowlands and is ringed by mountains. All the surrounding towns have invested in bikeways – all but Orem have added trails and bike lanes. Pressured by folks like Brad, and with support from a number of politicians and leaders, Orem hired us to develop a bike plan.
The process went exceedingly well, with terrific public interest and support. Technically, we found numerous opportunities to integrate new bikeways into the City’s fabric, some easy, some challenging, but plenty of doable stuff.
We reached a critical point in the process, the Draft Bikeway Network. This is typically a long-range(20-30 years) vision expressed on a map. Suddenly, the process got a little dicey, with City staff expressing serious concerns about the scale of change. The solution: field trip to Boulder, CO, to check out the delights of a bike friendly community.
Joining me in Boulder was the City Manager, five city councilors, the public works director, parks board rep, chief of police, two transportation commission members, and the lead engineer. Boulder’s incomparable Martha Roskowski gave a terrific talk on the history of Boulder. We gathered in the parking lot on rented mountain bikes.
“What are these number thingies?” asked one of the participants, referring to the gears. Clearly, we were at an entry level in terms of bike knowledge.
We set off along Boulder’s bike lanes and wide, well done trails, stopping every so often for Martha to explain why they did what they did, how they funded it, what a difference it made. And just like that, all opposition melted away. By the time the tour was complete, a few hours later, we had 100% support from all camps. There is NOTHING as effective at selling bike friendly communities as taking the right people on a bike tour of places like Boulder, Portland, Berkeley, or Minneapolis. If you come to Portland, we’ll set you up through the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation with lectures and tours that will open your eyes and fill you with joy. Watch as your colleagues open their eyes and see the future through a different lens.
Less than three months later, the City of Orem took advantage of two roadway overlay projects and striped bike lanes on Main Street and Orem Boulevard! Way to go Orem!