Park City police officers step up efforts to protect pedestrians after accidents
The Park City Police Department has stepped up its efforts to protect pedestrians after several accidents involving drivers and people walking along a road or crossing one, an acknowledgment of the severity of the cases in a community where leaders have long pressed walking or bicycling as traffic-fighting measures.
Pedestrian and bicyclist safety has for years been critical to the Police Department and the wider municipal government, a reflection of the importance of alternative modes of transportation to Park City’s elected leaders over time. The leaders see the pedestrian and bicyclist routes as crucial to the overall efforts to reduce traffic. The idea is to provide safe routes for pedestrians and bicyclists that would attract people who would otherwise drive.
The three recent accidents, including one that involved a fatality, have led the police to increase enforcement of laws designed to protect pedestrians, such as crosswalk rules.
The Police Department in online postings and in department logs outlined the recent efforts. On Feb. 15, the Saturday of the busy three-day Presidents Day weekend, officers were assigned to what the Police Department described as high-risk crosswalks. The officers in one shift pulled over 20 drivers and issued four tickets, according to an online posting. The police during that shift also spoke to more than 20 pedestrians and distributed educational material, the police said.
The police on Feb. 14 also enforced the crosswalk rules, stopping an unspecified number of drivers. In a case unrelated to the crosswalk enforcement, an eastbound driver on Feb. 12 drifted off Kearns Boulevard “and took out a crosswalk sign” in front of a Kearns Boulevard apartment complex, the police said. The department’s online posting indicated the police suspected the driver was impaired and arrested the person after administering sobriety tests.
The Police Department regularly enforces traffic laws and sometimes conducts crosswalk stings involving a decoy pedestrian who is sent into a crosswalk and police officers monitoring whether drivers stop. The recent efforts, though, were launched just after the series of auto-pedestrian cases over a two-week period. The accidents drew widespread publicity at a time when Park City was jammed with ski-season and Sundance Film Festival crowds.
In the most serious of the accidents, a California man died from his injuries after a driver hit him while he was walking on Empire Avenue close to Park City Mountain Resort. The man was 43. The police arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of failing to remain at an accident scene that involved a death.
In one of the other cases, a driver hit a pedestrian as the person was walking across Park Avenue close to Holiday Village. The Utah Highway Patrol later said the victim was in better shape than had been anticipated, but details were not available. The other auto-pedestrian accident, at the intersection of Park Avenue and Saddle View Way, involved a driver hitting a pedestrian at slow speed. The victim suffered minor injuries, the police said.
The Police Department in response to a Park Record inquiry provided a written outline of measures taken by officers to protect pedestrians or those taken by City Hall to more broadly address pedestrian safety. They include:
• dedicating a police officer to work with a security firm for a larger presence on Main Street as well as enforcement of the drop-and-load zones along the street.
• crafting a plan to address pedestrian safety for overflow parking on Deer Valley Drive.
• periodic enforcement operations at crosswalks, including those along Kearns Boulevard, Park Avenue and Bonanza Drive. The operations continued over the busy Presidents Day weekend.
Some of the others measures highlighted by the Police Department include the construction of a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Kearns Boulevard outside Park City High School and the planned extension of a staircase toward the City Hall-owned Treasure open space overlooking Old Town.
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