One good plan for SLC – ‘slow streets’

People stroll up Main Street during Downtown SLC Open Streets in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

With so many proposals that would be severely damaging to quality of life along the Wasatch Front, we wanted to highlight a lighter, brighter vision for our area. A vision that is cognizant of the health consequences of air pollution, and aims to not only clean up our air but actually improve our lives. A Salt Lake Tribune article highlights the idea of “slow streets,” like ones in Vancouver, Canada. 

You won’t be allowed to drive your car down it — only locals can do that. But you’d be welcome to enjoy a stroll among its trees, fountains and public art” the article writes. Apparently hesitant at first, once implemented residents felt like they were living in a park. 

Although Salt Lake City has experimented with temporary road closures before, doing so permanently could make a real difference in local air quality issues. Salt Lake City had the worst air quality in the world at one point last year and ranked 12th on a list of U.S. counties most polluted by ozone. 

“Smith (director of sustainability for Vancouver) said for cities to fix environmental issues like air pollution, they have to go beyond basics like recycling and renewable energy. Those things are important, he said, but if a community supports environmentally friendly initiatives but still relies on a system that burns a lot of energy — like driving cars everywhere or living in large private homes — then nothing has really changed.

“If you want to go deeper, you need to really move how we function as a society,” Smith says in the Tribune article.

We understand it’s frustrating to talk about individual responsibility of climate change and air quality when we have a Legislature and big businesses pushing forward polluting projects, however that’s exactly why we encourage you to take every possible measure in reducing what you have control over. Please opt for public transportation, or carpool, especially on bad air quality days. Make sure to continue to advocate for clean air, and vote for representation who makes it a priority. 

Read more about “slow streets” here.