By Neal Legler
Salt Lake City – More than 100 cyclists took to the streets of downtown Salt Lake City Friday, May 16, to celebrate biking as an alternative form of transportation.
Led by Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson, the group started at the Gallivan Center and rode a 4-mile loop to kick off the eighth annual UTA Rideshare Bike Bonanza.
“A lot of people that come to this event don”t even own cars,” said Julie Bond, regional marketing specialist for UTA Rideshare and organizer of the event.
The Bike Bonanza topped off Cycle Salt Lake Week and featured live music, free prizes, bike tune-ups and food donations for the Road Home Shelter. The event encouraged people to use bikes instead of cars to get around.
“It”s good for the air quality and good for the environment,” Bond said.
The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, a nonprofit organization of cycling advocates, worked with UTA to help publicize the event. The group provided free bike tune-ups and an art display of bike parts welded into abstract forms.
Jason Bultman, co-chair of the Bicycle Collective, said the group teaches bicycle maintenance classes and refurbishes donated bikes for a community outreach program or a low-priced resale.
“If you can”t afford a new [bike], you can get a nice cheap commuter from us,” Bultman said.
Just as the bikes showcased by event-goers spanned from department store cruisers to specialty-shop bikes costing more than a used car, the cyclists ranged from beginning recreational riders to well-equipped bike enthusiasts.
Amelia Graehl, a Salt Lake resident who participated at the Bike Bonanza, said she hadn”t ridden a bike for six years. She prepared for the event by practicing at Liberty Park.
“[The ride] was way fun!” she said “We didn”t have any stoplights! I”d do it again.”
Some riders took advantage of the UTA sponsored event to wear bright green stickers, protesting UTA”s proposed bus-fare hike.
Others attended the event to relax before the Cycle Salt Lake Century ride on Saturday and to take advantage of the opportunity to bond with fellow enthusiasts on the four-mile ride.
Bond said the event draws people who are committed to cycling back each year.
“I love these events when we get so many people out to enjoy bicycling throughout our city,” Mayor Anderson said.
The mayor said Salt Lake has taken major steps to facilitate car-free transportation in Salt Lake City.
“We”ve expanded the bicycle routes,” he said. “It”s safe, convenient, and you can get around this entire valley now with a bicycle.”
Anderson said residents can now carry their bikes on the light rail system or on the bus then bike from their drop-off point to their final destinations.