October 23, 2013

Active Towns Blog #6

Creating A Culture of Activity: Ogden, UT – Access to the Great Outdoors

In this edition of the blog I continue to look back to May and the launch of the 2013 Active Towns Tour.

After a surprisingly enjoyable and quite educational visit to Salt Lake City for the Congress for New Urbanism, see Active Towns Blog #5, it was time to kick the 2013 Tour into high gear.

Just up the road from SLC is Ogden, UT a city that has the tagline “it’s all within reach”. I had been hearing a lot about this place lately, so I decided to stop by for an impromptu and brief midday visit as I made my way “up the hill” to Park City, UT, where I planned to spend the night with a friend. The next day I would continue pushing east over to Steamboat Springs, CO for yet another Active Towns Tour home stay, which by the way are always so very much appreciated. Thanks everyone for your hospitality!

A couple of good friends of mine from Kona recently bought a vacation condo in Ogden and had been raving about its network trails, pathways, easy access to skiing in winter and its athletic culture.


I also started hearing about the city’s leadership and their positioning of Ogden as nation’s hottest new place for Active Lifestyle Companies to set up shop. The following excerpt is from the city’s website:

“Ogden’s access to outdoor recreation is gaining national media attention. National Geographic is calling Ogden Utah’s New Outdoor Capital and one of the top 10 outdoor spots in the country!  This media buzz is creating an atmosphere of excitement with new opportunities reviving the vitality of the area. Many new outdoor companies have caught the vision and decided to make Ogden their home. Descente, DNA, Salomon, Suunto, Atomic, Goode Ski Technologies, Peregrine, Kahuna Creations, Scott USA, and Rossignol are among a few of the companies that have recently relocated to Ogden.”

When I rolled into town, I immediately gravitated, as I usually do, to the old town area to get a sense of the historical context of the city and its traditional development pattern, which tends to feature more walkable environments. I was greeted by a downtown with a decent inventory of older buildings in varying stages of redevelopment and restoration. As the photos below illustrate, Ogden has a tendency towards the same long block and wide street grid we saw in Salt Lake City.



There’s certainly some great potential here to activate the streets even more by making the sidewalks wider, reorienting the parking and creating dedicated cycling infrastructure. Of course the area needs to have meaningful destinations as well.

The next photo montage is of an old town area that has been completely redeveloped into a live, work and play “neighborhood”.

Ogden Redevel Montage

Based on what I had been hearing, the strength of the area is solidly in the outdoor recreation arena, so I decided to get out of downtown-old town to explore a bit.

As one would expect I found a fair amount of sprawl and plenty of oversized high speed Stroads.


In some of the quieter residential neighborhoods I did find a few sharrows on routes designated as bike “priority” boulevards.


Unfortunately the positioning of most of the sharrows were a bit off, encouraging cyclists to ride in the door zone, which is a common mistake.
Poor Sharrow Placement Ogden UT

Ultimately I ran out of time before I was able to locate any pathways or trailheads. Perhaps I was simply looking in all the wrong places?

I did see a high number of cars with bike racks. Yes, this can be a positive sign, but also one that subtly says: you may need to drive your bike to somewhere else in order to ride.

The Ogden city website recreation page certainly supports its image as an Outdoor Paradise.

In summary, I want to emphasize that I do not feel that I was able to give Ogden a truly fair evaluation given the limited time I allotted for my visit. I have chalked this experience up to a lesson learned and will have to coordinate another tour, perhaps with my friend as a guide with local area knowledge.

Here’s a link to the complete Ogden photo album on the Active Towns Facebook page.

Next Blog: I will take a look at Park City, UT and its Summer activities.

What’s Ahead for the Active Towns Tour:
This week I arrived back in Boulder just in time to catch a beautiful Fall day as seen in this photo of some kids having a blast mtn biking after school.

Fall Bike Class

And… next week the Active Towns Tour will be visiting a few communities in upstate New York. Sure hope the colorful leaves are still clinging to those branches. I believe this will be my first visit back east in Autumn. Looking forward to it.

Please feel free to share your comments and/or suggestions for emerging and established Active Towns on our websiteFacebook page or by email to: info@activetowns.org

As always, we welcome any and all assistance, so if you’d like to help us directly in our efforts to facilitate healthier communities across the country, please consider making a tax deductible donation. We are current 3/4 of the way toward achieving our 2013 Active Towns Tour Fundraising Campaign goal of $20,000. Click here to donate.

Thank you for helping create and support Active Towns everywhere!

johns signature blue

John D Simmerman, MS
Co-Founder, President & CEO
Advocates for Healthy Communities, Inc.
Actives Towns Initiative