Every day we interact with multiple means of transportation around us, yet so rarely do we consider the complexity of culture and movement systems. In late 2019, a few intrepid citizens of Salt Lake formed a “gang” of roadside rebels to implement systemic changes to our wandering habits. It is the mission of sweet streets, a grassroots, citizen-focused planning advocacy group. I join founding member Taylor Anderson, alongside the cohorts Johnnae Nardone, Benjamin Wood and Alex Cragunto talk shop about the group’s mobility mission.
“We realized that we all care about what happens outside our doors. Often people of color, low-income communities, and people with disabilities are overlooked,” Andersen says. Unpacking the over-reliance on single-driver motor vehicles is at the heart of the sweet streets‘ vision. “Mobility is a challenge for the city; it improves everyone’s quality of life,” says Nardone, herself a full-time member of the UTA Staff. The benefits of better street design, accessibility and transit options affect more than most residents could imagine. Wood exudes a passionate energy as he describes the many tributaries affected: “If you want less crime, better streets. Air quality? Better streets. Disabled access… It all starts in the street! He exclaims.
“Mobility is a challenge for the city; It improves everyone’s quality of life…”
The organization has several political irons in the fire, including the robust “20 Is Plenty” and “200 South Corridor” projects. Passing through Rose Park and Liberty Wells there are green and white lawn signs for the “20 Is Plenty” project, currently the organization’s largest campaign. “We have committed the city to limiting speed limits in neighborhoods because these are the places where traffic violence occurs. Adopting a 20mph ordinance is both feasible and popular,” Cragun says in his hip academic tone. “There is peer-reviewed evidence that 20mph is effective, and it changes behavior. We need better design of our streets eventually, but it can happen now,” says Nardone. sweet streets is pushing for a possible citywide rollout of the 20mph speed limit on some local streets. Residents can sign a petition on sweet streets website and ask for one of these charming signs, begging automobile drivers to slow down on residential roads.
The “200 S. Corridor” project has evolved as the city resurfaces on this main thoroughfare, one of Salt Lake’s famous wide streets. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to redevelop an entire street,” says Wood. This redesign would allow for a 15-minute turnaround at all adjacent bus stops, rapidly improving transit speed and reliability for downtown access. “Many cities have dedicated bus lanes. It’s time for us to have that, and no street is better. If the city thinks transit is important, we need a lane where it has priority,” Nardone explains.
The spirit of sweet streets feels big and even a bit overwhelming, but the passion and dedication of its organizers is undeniable. “Everything you interact with when you leave your door is a political choice,” Andersen says. Cragun chimes in with equal zeal: “A hundred years ago, Salt Lake was ‘the city’ when it came to public transit. Our tram system had a seven-minute frequency across the city. »
“A hundred years ago, Salt Lake was ‘the city’ when it came to public transit. Our tram system had a seven-minute frequency across the city. »
Residents of Salt Lake will see sweet streets team presentation at upcoming events, providing new volunteer opportunities that should arise this year. In the meantime, people can fill out their petitions, polls, and lists to add their voice to the project. In May, sweet streets will host a neighborhood walk during Bike Month to celebrate the addition of many new wayfinding signs that the project has produced with a grant from the AARP. “Keep your eyes peeled for the irritating street design [and] launch a flare on these issues. Be loud about what might happen,” Wood says. Join sweet streets in the effort towards a salt lake more accessible to movements at sweetstreetsslc.org.
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Trusted Images: Maru Quevedo