Posted // 2013-06-17 -
Once a month, the streets of Salt Lake City become overrun with one of the loudest and most adventurous groups around: The Salt Lake Bike Party. Made up of hardcore cyclists, casual riders, fixie hobbyists, first-timers and an array of random bike owners who don't belong to any labeling system, all these will gather up in a single location and hit downtown SLC and surrounding areas to ride, make friends, throw impromptu dance parties, explore the city and, ultimately, bring tons of evening life to areas that normally wouldn't see much action. Today, I chat with several members of the group about their love of cycling, the party itself and thoughts on the cycling community in Utah. (All pictures courtesy of SLBP's Facebook page.
Tom Millar, Philip Sarnoff, Jack Lasley, Heidi Goedhart & Colin Quinn-Hurst
Gavin: Hey, everybody. First off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Tom: My name is Tom Millar, longtime bicyclist and urban planner focusing on bicycle and pedestrian transportation. I'm 24 years old, native of San Francisco, and SLC resident of five years.
Phil: I'm Phil Snaroff. I'm a displaced New Yorker (NY state, not NY City), living in Salt Lake City for almost seven years, Ph.D. in parks, recreation, and tourism from the University of Utah, and I'm the program manager at GREENbike - SLC Bike Share.
Jack: I am the program coordinator for the Salt Lake County Bicycle Ambassador Program. I have a background of working with environmentally oriented local-government programs, previously working as a recycling specialist for the county and helping run the e2 Business Program for Salt Lake City. I am 30 years old and have lived in Utah for 25 years
Heidi: My name is Heidi Goedhart. I am working as the bicycle coordinator for the University of Utah. I graduated from the U in urban planning and environmental studies. I have a passion for developing sustainable urban environments, and transportation is a massive piece of the puzzle in solving our society's modern problems. I love biking around the city and finding an excuse to get together with my friends on two wheels. I climb, kayak, ski and do triathlons in my spare time, and can often be found training or recreating on the front and backsides of the Wasatch Front, and all around Utah, for that matter.
Colin: My name is Colin Quinn-Hurst, and I work for the Salt Lake City Transportation Division.
Gavin: What got each of you interested in cycling, and what influenced you to do it beyond just a hobby?
Phil: I have been biking pretty consistently since I was a kid. My use of bicycles has ebbed and flowed over the years. It went from transportation to triathlon racing to transportation again, and now it's employment, bike racing and transportation. I decided to engage more fully with cycling because it's maybe the most perfect transportation mode. I own a car, but I have never really liked driving. When you ride a bike, you are more engaged with your surroundings, including with drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists. I know Salt Lake City and its people far better because of cycling than because of driving.
Heidi: I initially started bicycling for triathlons when I was 15. I started intermittently commuting to my summer job -- as a lifeguard -- to get some training in. When I moved to SLC as a freshman at the U, it was second nature to bring a bike. I tagged along with some friends for my first “mass” ride in 2007. I participated in bike-culture rides when I could, and have become more involved in the last two years, in part because of my job at the U and because I have more free time. I have grown to love SLC, in part because I actually experience it. I can feel, taste and smell see the city on a much more intimate level when I am riding a bike. It’s awesome. That's why I keep grabbing my bike instead of my car keys.
Jack: I grew up in Park City, and like most kids -- I imagine -- I grew up riding bikes. As my first form of real transportation, it was my first experience with true personal freedom. Bicycles have played a recurring role in my life, both as transportation and recreation. I commuted off and on by bicycle through college but didn't fall in love with them until a few years after graduating with my undergraduate degree. I had always been interested in environmental sustainability, and after spending a few years in the financial industry, I decided to return to school and do something I loved. One of the first things I did was sell my car and begin exclusively using my bicycle for transportation. It was a little scary at first, but within a few months I was absolutely in love. Seven years later, I am still in love.
Colin: As a kid, biking around the neighborhood with family and friends made bicycling a part of my life. It meant freedom to roam, explore, and see friends, plus it was fun. From there, it continued to be part of my life for just getting around to work and school, until I studied environmental policy in college and found that encouraging this simple act could also play a big role in addressing current environmental issues, not to mention all the intuitive benefits, such as health and having fun.
Tom: It makes me really happy and I do it beyond just a hobby -- organizing rides, doing transportation planning and advocacy -- because I see how happy it can and does make other people. I like how it brings people together.
Gavin: Being experienced cyclists, what is it like riding through SLC and navigating the city streets and bike paths?
Jack: It is an absolute blast. Salt Lake has a lot to offer for bicycles; we still have a long way to go before bicycles are provided equal level of service with motor vehicles, but we have come a long way and it is getting better every day. Salt Lake drivers are becoming much more accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road. I frequently tell people that my favorite thing to do in all the world is ride the streets of Salt Lake on a summer night.
Tom: It's great. It's just as fun as when I wasn't an experienced cyclist. The other thing that has changed is that my legs are tanner and I eat a lot more.
Colin: There are some great routes through the city, and significant progress is being made thanks to all the support from Mayor Becker, who is probably the most influential bicycle advocate we have. There is still a ton of room for improvement. We can list the benefits all day, but people won't bicycle in large numbers until it is the most convenient option for getting from A to B. So, it will take prioritizing bicycles as a mode of daily transportation, with a complete and robust network of lanes and paths, to see the type of shift we are looking for, where bicycling is the most convenient way to get around the city.
Heidi: SLC has made great strides in improving bicycle facilities lately. When I first started biking with friends, I would often just meet up with them, since they would weave through traffic and blow through red lights. Growing up in rural farmland, it was quite the transition to city traffic and, I admit, I felt intimidated. I have had a vehicle in SLC, but to save money, I would bike more than drive, and I became more comfortable on the streets and demanding my space in the lane. To be honest, it helped my confidence on the streets to always be riding with guys; the first couple of years I attended Mass, I was the only girl tagging along for the ride. Things in SLC have really evolved and embraced cycling, and I see more and more ladies on saddles -- in skirts, no less! Thinking about it, the Salt Lake City Bike Party is all about reaching out to people who might be new to cycling or unconfident and creating a respectful community where everyone feels comfortable on their bike and everyone knows there is an expectation to ride safely while abiding by traffic laws.
Phil: Salt Lake City is really easy to navigate by bicycle. It has wide streets that are easy to share with vehicle traffic, and the majority of streets either have bike lanes or have low traffic. There are also great resources for any cyclist to navigate around the city, such as the Salt Lake City Bikeways Map
Gavin: What do each of you ride, and what specifically made you choose that type of bike?
Phil: I ride a brown Riggio Americana. I have owned it for about 15 years and have never seen another one like it. It's a great steel-framed bike that doesn't seem like it will ever stop doing its thing.
Colin: My bike is an old Schwinn Super Sport from around 1973, picked up from a couple of friends who rebuilt it for about $50. It now has some racks for getting groceries and running errands, new lights powered by the front wheel and just one speed to simplify maintenance. Otherwise, it is old "Chicago Steel." Bikes don't need to be fancy or expensive to get around.
Tom: When commuting to and from work, going to friends' houses, or riding around town, I'm on an '80s Univega Gran Turismo touring bike, complete with fenders, racks, and bags, not to mention a nice and soft Brooks saddle.
Jack: My primary bike is a mid-'80s Raleigh Olympian converted to a fixed gear. I began my bike-only days on a full-suspension mountain bike I brought from Park City and didn't understand what I was missing for about a year. Eventually, one of my friends sold me the Raleigh he picked up from a garage sale and helped me begin the conversion. I love the simplicity of a fixed gear. I love hearing only my tires on the road. I also ride a Redline Monocog for off-road purposes, and I have a single-speed KHS Centurion as my backup.
Heidi: My former townie was a '90s Schwinn Prelude, then my Felt road bike became my commuter “go to.” This winter, I made the life-changing investment and grabbed a Kona Ute -- longtail commuter bike that is now my sole city, errand, bike in bad weather -- snow, rain, extreme sun -- and Bike Party bicycle. I wanted a bike I could easily use as my car; goal accomplished.
Gavin: When did each of you meet prior to the Bike Party?
Colin: Heidi and I met at the U in a land use and transportation class, probably three years ago now. Tom and I shared an office for about a year while doing internships together for the city's transportation division, and we had a blast riding around the city and working on ways to improve things for bicycling. Phil and I met while he was starting and managing the SmartTrips program for the city's sustainability sivision to promote walking, biking and transit through individualized marketing. I'd seen Jack riding around on his awesome custom fixie for probably a year or so before meeting, when he was hired to run the county's Bicycle Ambassadors Program.
Heidi: I met Tom through SaltCycle; Colin was a TA a few years ago, so we have been connected through the U; I met Phil through the SaltCycle racing team, as well as SLC meetings on sustainability and GREENbikes; I met Jack at a few cycling events before formally meeting him through the Bicycle Ambassador program.
Tom: I met Phil a few years ago through bicycling, our work on some bicycle master plans and as members of the SaltCycle community; now, we race together and make things better for bicycling SLC, one day at a time. I met Heidi through SaltCycle, too, I think. She became the U's bicycle coordinator and that brought us closer, too; she's on our cycling team, too. I met Jack at the first SLC Bike Party. Colin is a longtime friend; we met when we started as interns at the same time in January 2011 at the SLC transportation division. Colin is now a big shot, and I'm working in the private sector doing consultant work and working with him on great projects. He's also on our cycling team.
Jack: Phil and I worked together at Salt Lake City. Through him and public bike events, I met these other jokers.
Phil: Jack and I interned together in the Salt Lake City Sustainability Division. I know both Colin and Tom from our time working with Salt Lake City, and now we all bike race together. Heidi and I just kept bumping into each other at bike-related meetings and events, and now we race together, as well.
Gavin: How did the idea of forming a Bike Party come about?
Jack: I think Phil and/or Tom came up with the idea after last year's big May -- I think -- Critical Mass event. I am not sure, though.
Colin: More than a year ago, Phil sent out a link to the San Jose Bike Party, with the idea of doing this as a way to promote bicycling in a fun, friendly and law-abiding manner. The idea simmered until last May, when Tom pulled off Salt Lake City's biggest Critical Mass ever, using a few of the ideas from Bike Party for encouraging people to follow the rules of the road and pedal politely. At that point, I think there was a collective realization that Critical Mass played its own unique role in promoting bicycling, and that the time was probably right to add a new kind of event to the local mix. At a Utah Bike Month planning meeting this May, Phil and Heidi decided the time was right for a Salt Lake Bike Party and ran with the idea, bringing Tom, Jack and I on board, as well.
Heidi: Phil, Colin and I were attending Bike Month planning meetings and decided we wanted to do a large ride but not so extreme -- corking intersections, non-law abiding, etc. -- like last year's Critical Mass bike ride. We wanted to do a Bike Month ride, so after some collaborating with Tom, we decided we would share the Bike Party name since other cities are doing it with great success. The name is also indicative of the expectation of the ride. We want people to have fun and be safe.
Phil: After last year's Critical Mass, we heard a lot of requests for a ride that was family friendly and followed the rules of the road. We have been kicking around the idea for a year and Utah Bike Month seemed like the perfect time for the inaugural ride. We also saw the San Jose Bike Party webpage and thought it would be a great addition to Salt Lake City.
Tom: We wanted something that brought people together like 2012's Critical Mass ride did, but without the politics and the differing opinions on what CM should be. So, we followed the example of other cities -- mostly San Jose -- and formed Salt Lake's Bike Party, where anyone can come and ride, follow the rules of the road, stay safe and still have A LOT OF FUN. We like being courteous and good advocates for bicycling when we're riding alone, so why not continue the same courtesy when we're riding together?
Gavin: What was it like planning the first one, getting the word out and then doing it? And what was everyone's reaction to taking part in it?
Tom: It was quite easy. We didn't want to have our faces attached to it since we are all involved in some form or another in official planning for Salt Lake City. We hoped that it would be self-organizing and policing, and it was. It was so much fun. We had less music and dancing than we had hoped because our friend's boombox ran out of batteries, but it was so uplifting having everyone riding together and laughing and singing. We just used Facebook and it was a hit.
Phil: It was actually pretty easy because we were drawing from all of our collective knowledge about riding in Salt Lake City. We posted it on SaltCycle and a few other places. The reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive and we're excited to make this a regular event.
Heidi: Planning the first one was pretty easy. We created a FB page, put a call out for a graphic -- we had several great submissions -- and advertised with the help of Bike Month and Cycling Utah. We all collaborated on a possible route, and Tom and I did a pre-ride to gauge the distance and make sure that the route was okay for a decent-sized group. The actual ride was a great success: We laid out rules -- follow traffic rules, we would not block intersections, etc. -- and introduced the ride leaders and tried to make it a friendly event from the get-go. During the ride, we "absorbed" a few people off the street. There were several people who came up to me during ride breaks, so appreciative and elaborating on how fun this event was. A mother toting a trailer with her toddlers was excited because she felt comfortable on the road with a bigger group and not so cautious about her kids. After the ride, an elderly gentleman came up to me, curious if we were riding again; he didn't speak the greatest English, but was so excited to be a part of something.
Colin: People seemed to latch onto the idea pretty quickly, as the concept is pretty straightforward: a free, all-inclusive, all-ages event with a bunch of people riding bikes together around town, dressing up, listening to music, and having a blast without obstructing traffic. The reaction was positive, as most people could see the potential for this to grow and become a fun, regular thing.
Jack: I wasn't able to play that much of a part for the first event. I put in my two-cents about the route, but mostly stuck to promoting it through various e-mail lists and word of mouth in the cycling community. I love promoting group rides. They are always a lot of fun and they are the perfect first step for someone interested in urban cycling.
Gavin: What made you decide to come back after the first one and make it a monthly event?
Phil: We wanted to see the interest level before we committed to a regular ride. There is clearly a need for this type of ride in Salt Lake City and we want to make this a major monthly event.
Jack: Personally, I thought it should be a monthly event from the start. The success of the first event shows that there is a demand for this type of all-ages, casual, fun ride through the city.
Colin: I think that was in the back of everybody's mind from the start, to build this into a regular event that brings the community together, and, hopefully, contributes to a growing community of people who support bicycling as an easy, safe and, above all, fun way to get around.
Tom: The intention was always to make it a regular ride, but we wanted to have the first one be a trial version of the full-blown thing, just to see what we had to work out before we promised regularity. I'm excited to do it every month and see it transform into an even more fun and well-attended ride for all types and abilities.
Heidi: We had so many requests and we are all excited about biking, as well, so it was easy to justify the work to organize another ride.
Gavin: What kind of organization goes into planning a single ride and figuring out the route you'll take?
Heidi: Familiarity with SLC's roads and bikeways is key. The point of this ride is to be law-abiding and to make cycling fun to everyone on the ride. Part of that is choosing smart corridors and easy routes so people enjoy themselves on the ride and see portions of the city they may not normally visit.
Colin: The main thing is figuring out an accessible and recognizable starting point, a solid route, and, of course, an awesome theme. The hope is to get more people involved in picking out these key things, to add to the creativity and character of the ride.
Jack: In my experience, organizing rides is sort of a snowballing effort. One or two people come up with a great idea and a few more people like it and start talking about it. The planning process is moderately organized, but generally involves a few friends sitting down to work out the time frame and looking at a map to identify fun places to go and good ways to get there.
Phil: Again, we're drawing from so much riding experience that we can come up with routes pretty easily. There's not too much organization otherwise. We really want it to be community-driven, so we're trying to see what happens naturally.
Gavin: Are there areas of the city you just won't plan around due to traffic or the area, or are you game for going anywhere you feel like?
Colin: Nothing is off-limits, but generally, the better routes go on roads that are easily shared with cars, where we won't block the entire road and completely stop traffic. It also helps to avoid difficult intersections with tons of traffic going in all directions. Smooth pavement and wide lanes are a bonus with a large group.
Phil: The most important factor is safety. The demands of the group size will eventually determine the route demands. If it's safer to take a whole lane then that will help to determine the route. We also want to highlight all of the great areas to ride throughout the county.
Tom: I feel like the only requirement for any part of planning the ride is to keep people safe and avoid conflict with other users of the road. If the ride is so big that taking a lane on 7th East is safer than trying to have hundreds of people try to cross a street legally at a stop sign, then I'm all for it. We just want people to feel safe and protected by the group, but never egged on to disobey the law or endanger themselves.
Jack: Going east of 11th East is difficult because you run up against a pretty difficult hill to climb. A lot of people show up to these rides with cruiser style and/or low performance bikes and we would hate to ask them to climb something like that. I wouldn't say there are areas of the city that we wouldn't be willing to go, but there are certainly routes that we wouldn't be willing to take. Some streets don't have the facilities to handle cyclists safely, and some streets are too narrow for a group this size to pass through without seriously inhibiting traffic flow.
Gavin: Do you ever end up improvising the route as you go, or are you more apt to stick to the plan
Tom: Improvisation is necessary, but it's nice to have a general idea of where we're going. That way, we can tell people where we'll be during the ride so that they can meet up with us part-way through.
Jack: Improvising seems to happen on every planned ride I have been a part of. You can never anticipate all the issues you will face. We try our best to stick to the route, but with construction and traffic and large public events, it is often necessary to hop down to another parallel street.
Heidi: We will stick to the plan unless something unexpected, like a road-block or accident, arises that will force a detour. With the number of people attending the rides, if the ride leaders have a good idea of the route and directing people, it is safer for everyone involved in the ride.
Phil: We try to stick to the plan so that we can accommodate slower and faster riders and so we all meet up at the end.
Colin: Some improvisation is always a possibility due to unforeseen things, like road closures. But it helps to stick with the plan, to add a little reliability to how long the ride lasts so people can make it to other rides or events later in the evening.
Gavin: What kind of skill level do you try to make the ride like? Can anyone just jump in, or do they need to be experienced with street riding and be super-fit?
Jack: This particular ride is aimed at all ages. The pace is very moderate, and anyone with basic bicycle riding ability should do fine. We try to limit hills, and riding in a large group generally alleviates any concerns about riding in traffic.
Phil: This ride is for everyone. My friend's son Miles, who is 5, participated in the whole first ride and was ecstatic at the end. We want to bring together anyone or everyone who is interested in riding bikes and meeting great people.
Tom: The goal of the ride is to have it be easy and slow enough that anyone can jump right in and have a good time. In May, another 4- or 5-year-old kid rode the whole route -- 11 or 12 miles -- with his parents. It was adorable and a good testament to the naturally inviting nature of the ride. I hope that continues.
Colin: Anyone can jump in. The pace is mellow, and you don't have to be experienced with street riding, as we follow the same rules of the road as cars, and you are surrounded by a ton of friendly people, which brings a certain amount of safety with it.
Heidi: Anyone is welcome to jump in; we had several people do it on the last ride. The idea is that anyone can come with a bicycle -- or wheeled device -- and join in on the fun regardless of their gear -- age and use -- or familiarity with cycling. The point of the event is to foster camaraderie in the cycling world and fuse the gap between people in normal clothing and spandex. If people are unfamiliar with riding on the road, this is a great way to gain confidence and ask questions about using your bicycle in the traffic lane.
Gavin: For those who want to participate, what kind of bikes do you recommend they use, as well as items and gear they should bring?
Heidi: We have no requirements for this ride. We just ask that users are safe and know how to ride their bicycle, be it fixie, tricycle, single speed, cruiser, carbon TT, commuter, mountain, road, recumbent or unicycle. If people choose to ride without a helmet, great; if they want to wear one, even better. The point of this ride is to respectfully get people on bicycles and foster the bicycle community in SLC. Since summer is upon us, we suggest people bring a pair of shades and water to help you through the ride.
Tom: Sometimes, bicyclists know so much that when a "normal" person who just wants to ride asks them for advice, they get an entire Bicycling Magazine amount of information. That's a big turnoff. We're not hoping to convert people into bicyclists; we're hoping to convert people who don't ride bicycles into people who do. You can be a normally dressed person who rides a bike. You don't need special shorts, you don't need a mirror, and you don't need a fluorescent jacket. Those things may make regular riding more enjoyable and perhaps safer, but they're not necessary. Come one, come all!
Colin: Any bike works, as the route is generally flat, easy and slow. Some water is recommended, and if you can safely carry some source of music on your bike, music is definitely appreciated and encouraged.
Phil: Any bike will work. I would only recommend bringing a basic repair kit in case you get a flat. Maybe some snacks and water if you like those sorts of things.
Jack: All you really need is a functional bike. I would recommend a water bottle, but you would survive without one. Helmets are always encouraged; there is no real reason not to wear one. However, they are not mandatory, and someone with experience in bicycling could participate safely without a helmet.
Gavin: You've got a ride coming up in a couple of weeks. What's the plan so far for what you have in mind?
Phil: Nothing planned at this point, but we're always open to suggestions. In general, the plan is bikes and good people.
Heidi: The Road Respect Tour will have a little festival in Liberty Park. We decided to join forces, and our ride will be leaving after the event dies down. We have a great little tour of SLC planned with a few pit stops. This ride, we plan on having more music to keep up the fun spirit and encourage dance parties at red lights.
Jack: Right now we are looking to include Liberty Park, the Gateway and Memory Grove in our stops.
Tom: More of the same fun-loving, courteous riding, if we can help it. We want this to be everyone's ride, so if you have ideas for what we should do, i.e., a pickup baseball game, ride to a park and set up a concert for everyone on the ride to enjoy, etc., then we're game, too. Creativity and fun are encouraged.
Gavin: Going local, what do you think about the local bike culture that's growing, especially in the downtown area of SLC?
Colin: There has been an awesome culture in Salt Lake City for a long time that supports bicycling, and it seems to constantly grow and change, and it could be growing again right now. Salt Lake City is amazing because a huge variety of people love and support bicycling here, and they each bring unique skills, talent and creativity to the table, whether through building bikes, writing, advocacy, sewing bicycle bags, organizing group rides up the canyons, starting alley cats, making films, organizing bike tours to local pubs to support charities -- the list goes on and on and on. Everybody contributes.
Jack: The local bike culture is incredible. It is very inclusive and fun. There are a lot of bike events occurring all throughout the riding season.
Tom: I love it.
Heidi: SLC bicycle culture has really blossomed lately. Cyclists are people, and ,for the most par,t social people. It's great to see people enthused about meeting other people who enjoy saddle time and the many ways riding bicycles improves the quality of life here in SLC; environmental, economic, social, health etc.
Phil: It's great. Salt Lake is so easy to get around that I love seeing more and more people on bikes. In a city that faces air-pollution issues and is going to see a large population increase, bicycles are a great way to mitigate these potential problems.
Gavin: What's your take on the new GREENbike program and the influence it's having on cycling in the city?
Phil: I'm biased, but it's bringing bicycles to a whole new segment of the community. Compared to some of the complaints that have arisen surrounding New York City's bike-share program, we have received nothing but positive feedback.
Tom: Bike Share is amazing, thanks to the right ideas and the right influence at the right time. I see people on our GREENbikes who would never have ridden otherwise. Yesterday, I saw a guy commuting from the train in his suit and really nice shoes pull up to a stoplight and chat with a more aggressively dressed bike messenger. They had a nice chat for a few seconds, a few laughs and then each went his own way. That is what I love about bike share.
Jack: I think the rental program is great. As I mentioned before, I love to ride my bike around the city at night, and it is one way I love to introduce visitors to the city. Before the bike-share program, it could be difficult to find a bike for my guests, but that problem is now solved.
Heidi: The new rental program is great. I see it as a gateway drug for people who are on the fence about riding bikes around SLC. They can give it a try and see how awesome it is. It is also going to be great for all the visitors to SLC. They can get out and enjoy the city on a level that many tourists can't or haven't been able to previously. It will just add to our numbers and help out with our presence on the streets and overall safety.
Colin: I am completely biased, but it's having a big positive impact. It gets people on bikes, which is the biggest thing. Also, it shows that everyone from businessmen to families to tourists can enjoy bicycling here. And they have a great concept for the program by starting with a dense network downtown, which has proven to be successful so far. Already, with 10 stations and 100 bikes, they are on pace to pass both Madison, Wis., and Boulder, Colo., in terms of bicycle use, and both those places started out with more stations and bikes.
Gavin: How are you enjoying the new cycling events like alley cats, bike jousts and festivals happening around town?
Heidi: I don't participate in all of them; if I did, I would need to make it a full-time job. Its' great to see all the independent events and groups getting together. It means that there are many facets and unique groups to our community and it's not just driven by a few key people. When it boils down to it, it's people on bikes and it's great to see all of us together creating a really well-rounded bicycle culture in SLC that absorbs racers, polo players jousters, city cruisers and commuters.
Tom: I love them. It's great to see creativity and talents involved and applied to myriad types of events. I try to attend as many as I can because they're all so fun in different ways.
Colin: The more events and activities that get people onto bikes and having fun, the better.
Jack: Unfortunately I haven't participated in any alley cats or bike jousts, but the other events I have attend have been great.
Phil: I haven't participated in any, but I'm always happy when people are out riding.
Gavin: What major changes would you like to see the state or other organizations make to help improve and support the cycling community, both here and in surrounding cities?
Jack: I think we are on the right track. I would just like to see them push a little harder. More infrastructure always helps.
Heidi: A major change I would like to see the state adopt would be to provide some sort of bicycle training during drivers education. So many people get funneled through the system and are either unfamiliar with bikes or the thought of using one for transportation never crosses someone's mind. If a person were to ride a bike for two weeks before gaining their license, we would have much more courteous drivers whorealize bikers are people, too.
Colin: I tend to think that the biggest thing is creating the opportunity to feel safe and comfortable bicycling for people of all ages, and that means quality separated bike lanes and bike paths, combined with a variety of educational programs that reach people of all abilities.
Phil: UDOT's new director is very pro-cycling, and I think that will make a huge impact on things statewide. Both the city and county governments have been overwhelmingly supportive of a variety of cycling initiatives. I would like to see more employers encouraging their employees to ride.
Tom: There's so much, but it's also very simple. Ride a bike and make a change that way, not just by talking about it. Make bicycling seem normal and not a dangerous, niche commute mode. I'll stop there, I guess.
Gavin: What can we expect from all of you and the party the rest of the year?
Tom: We'll have to meet up with one of the Movies In The Park, expand route ideas, and have more dancing. Other than that, what would you like to do?
Colin: It's hard to say how Bike Party might change and grow as more people and voices join the conversation, but you can probably expect to see a variety of starting points and routes throughout Salt Lake County, and some creative costumes and themes. Any suggestions? All ideas are welcome.
Phil: I want to see what participants want. It's a community ride and we want to engage all interested people.
Heidi: We want to get more people involved in picking themes, suggesting routes. We want this to be interactive and not just a few of us dictating what happens. This ride is for SLC bikers and it should be fueled by SLC bikers.
Jack: I will be closely involved in most of the bicycle-related events through the Bicycle Ambassador Program. I am also working with a friend to put together a weekly casual ride. We haven't worked out the kinks yet but, hopefully, that becomes a reality soon.
Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Colin: The biggest thing anyone can do to support bicycling is to just get out and ride a bike, for any reason -- errands, school, work, whatever. And have fun!
Phil: I would encourage all current cyclists to get one person out riding. It would be great to double the number of cyclists out on the roads.
Jack: The Salt Lake County Bicycle Ambassador Program
. We are team of experienced and informed bicycle commuters throughout the Salt Lake Valley who promote bicycle commuting and provide support and guidance to current and new bicycle commuters. For anyone interested in bicycle commuting in Salt Lake County, we can help you make it happen. Look for us on Facebook
Heidi: Even if you are on the fence about riding a bike, just try it out. It’s like trying a new food when you’re a kid -- sometimes you need to just muster up the courage to try something because it might just be awesome.