PROVO — Amid the rush hour traffic, bikers often breeze past the bumper-to-bumper cars. Despite the heat, cyclists can be seen in increasing numbers cruising along the side of the road.
During a recent City Council meeting, Provo Mayor John Curtis challenged residents to ride their bikes to work at least once a week in honor of National Parks and Recreation Month.
"I actually feel a little bit healthier," said Curtis, who has been riding a bike to work every week. "We'll all enjoy great benefits from this."
Provo resident Zac Whitmore worked closely with the mayor to coordinate the challenge. Chair of the Provo Bicycle Committee, Whitmore rides his bike to work daily. In fact, he rides it everywhere, putting in close to 100 miles a week.
"I just love riding my bike," said Whitmore, who refers to himself as a transportational cyclist. Although he has been riding a bike since he removed his own training wheels at age 3, he only recently joined the advocacy side of cycling.
He and other committee members often meet with the mayor and City Council members to discuss promoting bicycle safety and awareness in Provo. "I honestly believe that bicycles can help change the way people perceive their neighborhoods," he said. "It's a nice way to connect."
Whitmore and his wife are by choice a car-free family. For more than two years, they have ridden their bikes everywhere, with their 2-year-old daughter, Karen, in tow.
"It's so peaceful," said his wife, Krysta. "This is a great way to be healthy and simplify our lives."
The couple recently took a camping trip up South Fork Canyon, hauling all of their gear up on their bikes. In order to accommodate their needs, the Whitmores use Xtracycle bicycles, which are built to transfer heavy loads.
"I can carry a week's worth of groceries on my bike with no problem at all," she said of her Xtracycle. The extended frame of the bike makes it possible to move large objects and heavy loads. Whitmore has also carried a desk, a dresser and a bookcase on her bike.
For more distant trips, however, the couple uses public transportation. "We've learned to adapt by taking the train to Salt Lake," she said.
Members of the Provo Bicycle Committee, the Whitmores not only advocate biker safety, but they also help organize events for bikers.
Once a month the committee hosts a picnic as a way for cyclists to come together to become acquainted. This month's picnic will feature bike jousting, an obstacle course, a watermelon-eating contest, and pedal-powered smoothies.
"It's a chance to talk to people about riding bikes and get to know more people in the community," Krysta Whitmore said. "We just try and get families excited about bike riding."
The next Bike Provo Picnic will be held at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, at Paul Reams Wilderness Park in Provo. For more information visit www.bikeprovo.org.
e-mail: [email protected]