Annual bike summit brings cyclists to Provo

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PROVO, Utah -- The 7th annual Utah Bike Summit, sponsored by Bike Utah, rolled into Provo Friday morning with the goal of making Utah the most bike friendly state in the country.

Executive Director for Bike Utah Phil Sarnoff spoke about their progress toward that goal.

“In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists, which is a national bicycle advocacy organization, ranked Utah number 8, so that’s pretty good,” he said. “We’re up there in the top ten.”

More than 300 people attended the day-long summit, including government officials, representatives from the tourism and health industries, bike manufacturers--and of course riders. Kevin Dwyer represents both the Salt Lake Valley Trail Society and the Bicycle Collective.

“I think bicycling is the best way to learn about your community,” Dwyer said. “Getting out on your bike is a great way to connect with the environment, the youth, the businesses and really learn a lot.”

Friday’s keynote speaker was Gary Fisher, who cycling enthusiasts credit as the founder of mountain biking, a sport that is rapidly growing in popularity. Fisher even has his own line of bikes. Fisher calls the rapidly growing sport a true grass-roots movement, promoting safety, awareness, and perhaps most importantly: health.

“What makes me feel really great is when somebody comes to me and says, ‘Gary, I started riding a mountain bike. It has so changed my life. I’m so much healthier, I’m so much happier,’” he said. “That’s what makes me happy.”

Utah Department of Transportation representatives were also in attendance. Evelyn Tuddenham is the agency's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, and she said the landscape for bikers has changed for the better in recent years.

“It was hard to get people on a local level to really understand what the advantage was for them in promoting bicycling and walking within their communities, and that has shifted dramatically,” she said.

Summit organizers said they are very encouraged by the momentum Bike Utah has gained since the first summit seven years ago. For Utah, being in the top ten most bicycle friendly states is an accomplishment worth bragging about, and the father of mountain biking urges everyone to climb on board.

“Utah, you can do it; You’re the best,” Fisher said.

For more about Bike Utah, visit their website.