Darkness in the heart of the city
This newspaper has long been a proponent of public transportation, bicycle commuters and pedestrians but, during this season when daylight is short, we are reminded that some of the city’s main thoroughfares are dangerously dark for travelers unequipped with headlights.
The challenges pedestrians face on Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive are especially frightening and with the Sundance Film Festival just a couple of weeks away our concern for visitors’ and residents’ safety is growing.
With Kearns’ widely spaced traffic lights and snow-covered bike path on the south side, pedestrians who aren’t aware of the cleared sidewalk on the other side of the road often resort to walking in traffic. As they move away from the Bonanza Intersection toward Park City High School the figures disappear into the shadows and are almost invisible to drivers.
There is also a black hole along Bonanza Drive where it comes together with the Belt Route. While fewer people venture on foot along this unlit corridor, sometimes stragglers who miss the last bus from Main Street to Prospector find themselves hiking the curb alongside fast-moving SUVs. There are other equally dim corners including the stretch between Old Town and Deer Valley along Deer Valley Drive.
If the city and Summit County plan to continue expanding and promoting public transportation, planners and other officials have an obligation to assess the pedestrian safety conditions along those routes where riders will be picked up and dropped off.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the city rented spotlights to station along some of those same streets in anticipation of lots of foot traffic. The lights, though garish, probably helped many visitors negotiate unfamiliar terrain after sundown. Since then, however, while both auto and foot traffic have increased, the number of streetlights has not.
It is time for Park City to take a new inventory of popular walking routes and to evaluate their safety. And since that would likely take a while, it may be prudent to once again rent portable street lights, particularly during special events like the film festival. Down the road we would like to see well designed, downward directed lamps along many of the city’s well traveled paths and sidewalks.
Creating safer nighttime walking would go a long way toward encouraging more people to use the city’s excellent transit system.
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