I’m a historian so it only seems proper to start with a brief history of this group. I moved to Springville with my wife and three kids in 2011 when I started a new job teaching Russian history at BYU. When we first moved here I didn’t have a car, so each day I would bike the 9 miles from my house to campus on my new road bike. The route in a few places was okay, with bike lanes or wide shoulders to create some separation from traffic, but in other places it seemed really dangerous. Riding Hwy-89 over Ironton was particularly harrowing before the shoulder-widening project a few years later; trying to stay safe on a narrow and often debris-strewn shoulder while cars whipped by at 60 miles per hour presented a daily challenge. These commuting experiences, together with countless rides on the streets and trails (both paved and dirt) of Springville and Mapleton, made me think a lot about bicycle infrastructure and about how city planning directly affects our ability to enjoy safe cycling. So too did my conversations with Aaron Skabelund, a tireless bicycle advocate in Provo who works alongside me in the BYU history department.
For years Aaron tried to convince me to start a bicycle association in Springville to start addressing the infrastructure issues that I periodically complained about, but I was quite busy as a new professor with a growing family. Plus, I had already researched the Springville city plan, and knew that the city was intending to add lots of bike lanes and trails. But as the years passed, nothing seemed to be getting done. Roads were repaved but bike lanes remained on paper only. More was happening in Mapleton–the canal trail and a few new bike lanes–where my friend and city administrator kept me appraised of the progress they were making. Finally, in the summer of 2018, Aaron introduced me to Chris Quinlan, a fellow BYU employee and resident of Springville, and suggested we start an association together. Chris and his family were avid cyclists who had similar experiences to mine. With so much potential in Springville and Mapleton–wide streets and a young, active population–it seemed a shame that more was not being done to promote safe cycling. Together, we decided to do something.
After a few preliminary planning meetings, Chris and I formed the Hobble Creek Bicycle Association and held the first group meeting in September 2018. There were several people in attendance, and we enjoyed talking about bicycle-related issues and then rode through the streets of downtown Springville together. A few other meetings followed, one involving a ride on the Mapleton Canal Trail, and we also made a presentation to the Springville City Council in November 2018. Efforts to coordinate with city government and with other bicycle-related groups in Utah County followed, and in March 2019 we presented a two-year plan to the Springville City Council to fund two miles of new bike lanes along 1700 East, Center Street, and 400 East. Along the way the support of Councilmember Mike Snelson, one of our community’s most avid cyclists, has been invaluable.
Looking forward, we hope that the Hobble Creek Bicycle Association will be a force for positive change in Springville and Mapleton. We aim to lobby city governments for the improved bicycle infrastructure, to perform bicycle-related service projects, and to hold group rides to foster a sense of a bicycling community. We hope you will join us on this adventure!