+ Salt Lake City 101
About Salt Lake City
- Walk Score: 57. Walk Score measures the walkability of any address based on the distance to nearby places and pedestrian friendliness.
- Transit Score: 43. Transit Score measures how well a location is served by public transit based on the distance and type of nearby transit lines.
Bike Score: 69. Bike Score measures whether an area is good for biking based on bike lanes and trails, hills, road connectivity, and destinations.
Salt Lake City Bike Map (PDF). Pick up a free hard copy at local bike shops.
Transit Map (PDF)
Salt Lake City is, for better or worse, largely known for its Mormon population. It's hard to begrudge the Mormons this fame, as their founders literally created the entire town out of whole dusty brown cloth, irrigating and planting a dried up former lake bed into a booming western metropolis. 2017 Salt Lake City is much more than just "Mormon", but the Latter Day Saints church members still make up a little under 50% of the population. There are two ways of looking at that number: On the one hand, they're now a minority in the town they founded just 170 years ago. On the other hand, they're still pretty much half of a major metropolitan city in the American West, which affords them an out-sized influence over the city in a way that is more akin to Vatican City than any other major American city we can think of. The Mormon presence is felt in a thousand tiny ways, biking through town, and, perhaps in response, the other 51% of town plants their flag where you can see it. Salt Lake City struck us as being made up of A) Mormons, and B) those defining themselves as something other than Mormon. SLC has a vibrant gay community. We biked past killer art studios, thriving bike stores, and scored what is perhaps the greatest haul of "skinny little bastard" used clothing of our photographer's life at a great grungy vintage shop. While we're handing out superlatives, we need to hammer home how incredibly good the Mexican food was at Red Iguana. Yes, there's a line, but your reward is jaw-droppingly good food at "order by numbers" prices -- food that can stand alongside the best Indian and Soul Food you've ever had, served alongside those 32 ounce red plastic water cups I haven't seen since Pizza Huts in the 1980s. Indeed, the best food, biking, and art we found was outside the spotless glittering downtown section. Having said that, SLC is one of those cities that was built for a larger population than it currently has, so downtown feels pretty quiet and roomy in 2017, not unlike St. Louis. You won't have any drama getting around, and if you know where to look, you can find some wonderful little urban spots. Meanwhile, snow-capped peaks loom behind everything, reminding you that serious outdoorsy adventure is also not far away, should the mood strike you.
+ Biking in Salt Lake City
Traffic was pretty slow and manageable in SLC. Certain parts of town had greenways or neighborways – awesome blends of back alleys and bike paths that we whole-heartedly enjoyed using – and the rest of town had wide streets with a reasonably small number of cars on them. Some of the intersections outside downtown are so wide they actually take a long time to bike through during the light cycle, but that’s about the worst of it. You won’t experience any dense bike traffic, but hand signals are required by law (and by common sense).
Also required by law: front white light, rear red tail light or reflector, and hey – the side reflectors we last saw required in Pittsburgh. Nowhere in our searches of Utah or SLC bike laws did we find a requirement for helmets. Walk your bike on sidewalks, stay visible and predictable, and you should be fine.
We didn’t see or hear of any noteworthy bike theft scene, so the usual applies here: Bring your bike inside at night unless you absolutely can’t (and come on, you almost assuredly can, try harder!), and don’t use cheap locks during the day. Remember, you don’t have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun your friends: you want your bike lock to be better than at least 2 or 3 others at the bike rack, so someone else’s bike is the easy target.
Salt Lake City Culture
Politeness runs deep in Salt Lake City, so visitors from busier, denser cities should prepare themselves for unsolicited smiles and/or offers for help. We asked someone the best way from the restaurant we’d all just walked out of, to get up to the capitol building, and he insisted on biking with us to show us his favorite route. Roll with it – Salt Lake people are eager to show off their town, as they should be.
These self-guided cultural tours were curated by locals who bike and wanted to share their favorite nooks and crannies with you.
Coming soon! If you live in Salt Lake City and love food, music, art or just being outdoors? Curate a route for us by inquiring here.
- GREENbike SLC (bike share)- $7 for 24 day pass for sturdy city bike with front basket, lights, fully enclosed chain guard and skirt guard.
+ Eats, Drinks and Sights
- EAT - Red Iguana, Pig & a Jelly Jar, Dolcetti Gelato
- DRINK - East Liberty Taphouse, Fisher Brewing
- WANDER - Capitol Hill, Temple Square, McClelland Trail, S-Line Greenway
We curated these eating, drinking and sightseeing bucket lists for on-the-go exploring:
- UTA (Map) - $2.50 one way. "It is very easy to use the bike racks on UTA! Hundreds of people every day take their bikes on the UTA system. All buses are equipped with bike racks. We have racks on many of our train cars as well. On TRAX and FrontRunner there are several ways to secure your bike. Train cars equipped with bike racks have a bicycle icon near the door of the cars with bike racks."
- Airport to Downtown - take TRAX Green line
- California Zephr (Chicago - Denver - Glenwood Springs - Emeryville/San Francisco) - $20 for trainside checked bike service. Reservation required.
None at this time.
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