Welcome to walk, bike & transit friendly Salt Lake City, Utah! Better known for its large Mormon settlement and the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake City is steadily becoming a household name when it comes to its walking, biking and public transportation infrastructure and for a good reason!
One of the top concerns for the city has been air quality. More than 5,000 people have protested since 2013, calling for government to take action in fight against pollution. These protests led to government initiatives at city, county, and state levels. Cars were found to be responsible for 60% of the pollution and in response, the City has introduced measures to encourage walking, biking, and public transportation, which has proved to be thus far successful.
Typically, walking can be a very frustrating experience with fast moving traffic and impatient drivers. This was one of the rare moments when the experience was quite the contrary in downtown Salt Lake City. Drivers were extremely respectful, there was an abundance of well marked crosswalks and crossing signs, the streets were lively and the sidewalks impeccably wide and wonderfully streetscaped.
The 2013 Salt Lake City Bicycle + Pedestrian Master Plan update is another way the city is using the walk|bike|transit growing momentum to provide the best and newest innovating in walking and biking since their last plan update in 2004.
The vision of the master plan:
"Walking and bicycling in Salt Lake City will be safe, convenient, and comfortable, and viable transportation choices that foster recreational and economic development opportunities, improve health, and elevate quality of life."
Furthermore, the goals emphasize the integration of walking and biking into communities as well as other modes; safe, comfortable and attractive network systems; maintenance; and non-infrastructure programs that support education, enforcement and encouragement of walking and biking.
I often heard people refer to Salt Lake City as an innovator in bicycle infrastructure and way ahead of the curve (see: Salt Lake City to Install Nation's First Protected Intersection for Bicycling & Salt Lake City first city in the U.S. to use the "Green Shared Lane") from some other cities, so I was quite excited to check out what all the buzz was about. What I discovered was an incredible bicycle network and some impeccable bicycle fashion & style.
In 2010, the League of American Bicyclists designated Salt Lake City as a Silver - level Bicycle Friendly Community. The City has taken this badge of honor quite seriously and have continued to expand their on-road bikeway network which now encompasses more than 200 lane miles.
With growing concern over health, air pollution, and oil dependence, the City’s bicycle initiatives seek to improve safety, enhance quality of life, provide sustainable and healthy transportation choices, and improve air quality in our region.
Salt Lake City's transit system (which includes bus, light rail and commuter rail) is operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA). In 2011, this transit system was rated as the third - best in the nation at connecting people to jobs and providing access to 59% of the jobs in the valley. The City was also crowned as one of the top 10 cities for public transportation.
So how does this largely right wing state do it? It takes some serious political will and righteously so a consensus on overall public health - in this case, air quality.
In my research of history and other aspects into the city, I also discovered that Salt Lake City has several sister cities/towns with one of those being Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (the homeland!). No wonder as a little part of me felt at home & fell in ♡ with this city…