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How Advocates Boosted Utah to #13 in 2012 State Ranking
In May, we released the latest Bicycle Friendly States Ranking and, over the coming weeks, we'll explore the building blocks of a BFS and profile some of the leading and innovative advocates and officials. Today, Scott Lyttle, Executive Director of Bike Utah, discusses the role of advocacy, the importance of collaboration, and "The Greatest Biking on Earth."
Guest post by Scott Lyttle
The most exciting thing about cycling in Utah is that the state offers the best of everything.
I’m going to steal our winter counterpart Ski Utah’s slogan “The Greatest Snow on Earth” and translate it to “The Greatest Biking on Earth.” Utah offers scenic recreational rides for families through the national parks. We offer hardcore roadies some of the most challenging climbs and descents. And we offer the best mountain biking throughout the entire state from Park City, Moab, St. George/Hurricane and Vernal.
I’ve only lived in Utah for five years, but I think Moab helped put Utah on the biking map more than 20 years ago when it established itself as the mountain biking Mecca. And since then, we’ve seen cycling grow throughout the state. There has been a 27 percent increase in bike commuting in Salt Lake City. Utah has endless potential. We have great recreational, road and mountain biking all year-round.
As the statewide advocacy organization it's our role to continue building one powerful voice for cyclists to promote change. Since 2005, when Bike Utah was founded, the organization has been able to establish the state’s 3-foot-passing law, work with the Utah Highway Patrol to promote safe cycling, and create the Share the Road license plate. As we move forward as an organization we're focusing on building statewide awareness through our annual Utah Bike Summit and the Road Respect Campaign, which is a partnership between Bike Utah, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and Utah Department of Public Safety (UDPS).
The League's state ranking has given us some great feedback on what issues we need to tackle in Utah’s BFS Report Card. Funding is Utah’s biggest challenge. As Bike Utah builds the above mentioned relationships our goal is to continue identifying funding sources for new infrastructure.
As a young organization, Bike Utah feels that we can be most effective at building relationships with UDOT, UDPS, elected officials and local, regional and state planners while continuing to make an annual trip to the National Bike Summit and meet face to face with our members of Congress in Washington D.C. Those strong relationships will give Bike Utah a better opportunity to help influence future legislation, and state and federal funding.
Thus far, we've relied on many other organizations for help. I’ve personally spoken to Bike Texas, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, groups from Portland, San Francisco, Minnesota... the list goes on. They have been invaluable in helping us grow as an organization and identify what areas we should focus on. I don’t think we’ll ever stop listening and asking for advice.