this is my daily commuting vehicle.
most days, rain, snow, or shine, i hop on my bike to get around. i live in salt lake city, utah, home to some of the worst air pollution in the united states.
i don’t know how many of you are familiar with salt lake, but it is a sprawling valley of cities with a population in the low millions, all connected by several highways. the city, settled by mormons in the late 1800s, demonstrates the detrimental effects of the automobile.
the city was built with abnormally wide, grided streets. the streets are so wide because mormons were good planners and wanted oxen/horse drawn carts to be able to U turn in them. the wide streets were then used to allow cable cars to dart around the city and the nearby suburbs. then the car got popular, (this is probably a story most of you are familiar with) and the cable car tracks were ripped out, until 2002.
when salt lake hosted the winter olympics in 2002, a new light rail system was built. originally, it extended three routes to nearby suburbs. now, it continues to expand as it grows more and more popular- a route to the airport opened this past april.
salt lake also has an amazing bus system, given the level of sprawl most of the double story “city” is spread out over. the one problem is the frequency of buses along the routes and the fact that most routes stop before 9 at night.
still, it is not a hard city to get around in without a vehicle, especially when vehicles contribute over half of the winter smog and summer ozone.
however, clean air minded people are the ones carrying more of the burden of air pollution created by the cars. biking in the winter gives me headaches from the high levels of particulate matter in the air.
its hard standing up for something you believe in when it means that you are disproportionally burdened with the health detriments of it. still, i bike to work and school and the grocery store on green and yellow air days, and take the bus on red. i do my part, hoping to contribute to a new social norm in salt lake city.