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STEWARD STORY: The Cyclist Who Built His Own Sidewalks

Advocates like Aaron Skabelund, introduced here by BYU alumna Kira Johnson, create safer streets for Provo's residents.

October 2021 — Professor Aaron Skabelund has been biking to work since he began teaching at BYU in 2006. The Provo resident, husband, and father of two also helped form BYU's bicycle committee and, for years, advanced bike infrastructure projects on campus and championed active transportation and transit in Provo. During his career, he visited some of the world’s greatest biking and walking cities and asked, “Why can’t Provo be one of them?”

With windswept hair and a compact, wiry frame, Skabelund looks more like a professional cyclist than a historian of modern Japan. But his office, crammed with books and papers, assures visitors that Skabelund is one serious scholar. The benefits of cycling—staying fit, saving money, reducing one’s environmental impact—can be enjoyed by anyone. The challenge is making streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians and others.

Skabelund should know. In 2008, he revived the Provo Bicycle Committee, which later became BikeWalk Provo, a non-profit that has successfully advocated for new bikeways, crosswalks, sidewalks, and signage throughout Provo. In his neighborhood, he led a decade-long effort to transform Lions Park. And now, he’s running for city council. “Every single neighborhood in the city should be safe, connected and thriving,” he says. “I’m running to make that happen.”

Skabelund will face fellow BYU graduate Katrice Mackay in the general election on November 2. Registered voters can learn more about the election here.