Presenting to the Springville City Council

On March 12 Carrie Bennett and I made a presentation to the Springville City Council work session about the benefits of cycling and a few improvements we’d like to see over the next couple of years in terms of bike lines. Carrie went first and did a great job explaining why the city should promote cycling in our community–it provides exercise that leads to various health benefits, it promotes increased interaction with other people, it leads to better air quality and reduced vehicle congestion, and it is a fun family activty. In a nutshell, cycling improves the quality of life not just for those who do it, but for everyone in the community.

I then talked about the 1,000-miles campaign and various bike-related projects happening in neighboring cities, before moving to our specific proposals. Right now there are only 4.0 miles of bike lanes (not including off-street trails) in Springville, and UDOT will be constructing 1.4 new miles this year on the northern section of Main Street. 5.4 miles is not very much, but we consciously kept our proposals modest to avoid coming across as zealots unaware of the realities of small-city budgeting. Our strategy is to start small and hopefully build up a relationship of trust with the mayor, city council, and city staff. With that in mind, we proposed three segments totalling an additional 2.5 miles of bike lanes over the next two years, all of which are already identified in the Springville City Plan as needing bike lanes.

Presenting to the Mayor and City Council. Photograph courtesy of Carrie Bennett

The first segment we proposed is the 0.5 miles of 1700 East between Canyon Road and the Mapleton City border. This road is heavily used by school kids and recreational riders and would connect the Canyon Road trail, the River Bottom Road bike lanes, and the Main Street bike lanes in Mapleton.

1700 East looking from Mapleton into Springville

The next segment was just a short 1-block (0.1 miles) section of Center Street, between the library and the post office. Completing this and updating the bike route signs will connect the Center Street bike lane with the Main Street bike lane.

Center Street and the inexplicable end of the bike lane 1 block before Main Street

The final segment we proposed was the 1.9 miles of 400 East/Millpond Road/1400 North between 400 South and Main Street. This is a wide street and popular cycling route that will help connect the east side of Springville and provide an alternate route to the northern section of Main Street (which, even with bike lanes, will still be intimidating for some with its 40- and 50-MPH speed limits).

400 East looking northward to where it becomes Millpond Road

At the conclusion of the presentation we also suggested that early planning efforts be directed to the west side of Center Street and to 400 North, both of which would serve as east-west connectors between various bike lanes, trails, schools, and the downtown area. We then fielded a few questions from interested councilmembers and left feeling optimistic about our chances to get these projects funded. Hopefully we will get good news on this front soon!

A Brief History of the Hobble Creek Bicycle Association

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.

First Meeting/Ride of the Hobble Creek Bicycle Association, 13 Sep 2018

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!