Why Big City Blocks are a Runners’ Garden

We were out running the other day—a gloriously beautiful and warm morning though always fleeting in Utah—and listening to morning radio the other day—many a runners’ good friend—when we heard a DJ and call-in guest discuss Salt Lake City’s “huge” city blocks and how they were detriment to city’s pedestrian-friendly vibe. At first, I started to run faster, subconsciously without realizing, then I realized, got tired, and paused for a moment altogether before setting off again at my regular pace.

Ok, first of all, yes, Salt Lake City has big city blocks. But, no, I don’t understand how big city blocks create a barrier to walking or running. I think what the person meant to say was that it’s intimidating and that it’s a psychological barrier. That’s not exactly what they said, but I’m not sure what else they could have meant. Longer city blocks make for fewer intersections and forced stops. Aside from walking and running for the activity itself, longer blocks should also mean more densely populated services. Much of Salt Lake City is underrated for its walkability.

I’ve been told that our city blocks are almost the exact same size as the blocks in New York City. But, of course, the sidewalks are a lot less crowded here. And while we may not have Central Park, more of our individual streets have greenspace in the median and more trees overhead. Then, there’s Liberty Park and Pioneer Park as well.

I know there’s a huge and gorgeous bike trail in Sugarhouse, Millcreek, Murray, South Jordan, and much of the rest of the Salt Lake Valley, but here’s a shout-out to the city center, its walkability, and as a runner’s paradise in general.

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