Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Reva Bowen - DAILY HERALD  

Wheels are turning in Orem this week, and it's not too late to bike to work, take a bike ride with the mayor or give input on a soon-to-be developed trail and bike plan for the city.

By proclamation, Orem is following the lead of the League of American Bicyclists in observing "Bike to Work Week" this week, and "Bike to Work Day" on Friday.

The designation is a nationwide endeavor to educate the public about the benefits of bicycling, and to increase awareness of and respect for bicyclists, according to Orem's proclamation.

"For me, 'Bike to Work Week' is not just one week, or one day -- it's every day," said Brad Woods, manager of Mad Dog Cycles in Orem and a member of the city's transportation advisory commission. "I'm grateful to Orem city. They're willing to recognize it and recognize bicycles can make a difference, and do something about it."

Cities across the county are observing the week. In Provo, about 100 people showed up bright and early at the Utah County Historic Courthouse on Tuesday for the city's Bike to Work Day event. Provo Mayor Lewis Billings led the crowd on a three-mile ride through city streets before returning where they started.

The event also included free helmets and bike tune-ups for participants.

"Many people who live or work in Provo already enjoy the benefits of bicycling regularly," said Billings, who cycles regularly. "This event gives those of us who already love bicycling a chance to encourage others to try it."

Orem's big ride will be Friday. The public is invited to meet at the City Center, 56 N. State St., at 8 a.m. for a continental breakfast, to be followed by a 15- to 20-minute bicycle ride with Mayor Jerry Washburn, members of the City Council, and city staff.

Paul Goodrich, Orem's transportation engineer, said those participating in Friday's bike ride will first meet in the rotunda of the City Center, where there are displays and maps showing existing trails and parks, schools, and open spaces, and information about how the public can give input on trail and bike planning.

Goodrich said federal funding has been obtained through the Mountainland Association of Governments. A connectivity study that will be done for the east central area of Utah County will involve developing a trail and bike master plan for Orem. That plan will then be integrated with the plans of Provo, Lindon and Vineyard.

Community support of and involvement with the trail and bike plan is one of the "biggest goals," said Connie Douglas, associate transportation engineer in Orem.

"We want to find those who like to ride bikes and want to see them more in the transportation system," Goodrich said. "We want to get to the grass roots -- to people who walk, bike and jog. We want to get their thoughts before we get deep into anything [with the study]."

Right now, Orem may be "just a little behind the curve" in the development of trails and bike paths in comparison to other communities, Goodrich acknowledged.

But at the same time, Orem ranked third highest in "walkability" among 41 Utah cities in a recent study conducted by Bonneville Research. The study scored cities on factors such as having a center (shopping district, main street or public place), neighborhoods compact enough for businesses to flourish and public transportation to run, mixed incomes and mixed uses, plentiful parks and public spaces, and nearby schools and work places.

"We're already a pretty decent community," Goodrich said. "We just want to improve on things if we can."

Members of the public who would like to provide input on Orem's proposed trail and bike plan are encouraged to contact Paul Goodrich by phone at (801) 229-7320, or by e-mail at cpdouglas@orem.org.

URL: http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/308661/17/