Park City revs up anti-idling enforcement
Police say problems are most prevalent along Main Street
December 27, 2016
The Park City Police Department has revved up its efforts to reduce idling, part of City Hall's wide-ranging environmental program.
The municipal government allows someone to leave a vehicle engine idling for up to one minute. The City Hall law against idling has been revised over the years to the current one-minute allowance. Park City leaders, though, have eliminated the allowance based on temperatures. An earlier iteration of the law allowed someone to idle a vehicle engine if it was excessively hot or cold.
As wintertime temperatures arrived in Park City, cases involving idling vehicles rose, Police Department logs in recent weeks showed. Someone must receive three warnings for violating the law before the police are able to issue a ticket. Enforcement operations last week included during the midmorning and again in the early evening on Main Street on Dec. 24, on Main Street midmorning on Dec. 22 and in the afternoon of Dec. 21 on Main Street. A violation of the idling rule was logged on Dec. 24 at 4:37 p.m. somewhere along Norfolk Avenue, the Police Department said.
Phil Kirk, a police captain, is one of the officers who is involved in the increased enforcement since early December. He said he is aware of just two drivers who have been warned twice about vehicle idling. One is a shuttle driver while the other is an individual who was seen leaving a car's engine running to keep the vehicle warm while buying coffee, Kirk said.
"Idling your engine to keep yourself warm is prohibited," Kirk said.
Kirk said the Police Department distributes fliers to taxi and delivery drivers explaining the law against idling in addition to the enforcement. There are also anti-idling signs posted along Main Street.
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Kirk said idling is most prevalent along Main Street, a location heavily traveled by taxis and delivery vehicles. He said taxi drivers sometimes want to idle the engine when they are waiting for customers to keep the vehicle warm inside for themselves and their passengers. Newer drivers might be unaware of the law, he said.
"There's a tendency for them to be more prone to idling," Kirk said.
He acknowledged, though, there have been just a small number of cases since early December. There has only been a few idling cases this winter, he said. The numbers are down "substantially" from previous years, Kirk said.
Andy Beerman, a member of the Park City Council, briefly broached the topic of idling at a recent City Council. Beerman and his wife own the majority of units at the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street as well as the firm that operates the property, putting him in a position to regularly observe idling vehicles. He said at the meeting idling vehicles were widespread. Beerman at the meeting said cab drivers should be educated about the law as he said he wanted a "surge of enforcement."
In an interview, Beerman said there are new shuttle and taxi drivers each season who need to be made aware of the idling law. The Treasure Mountain Inn posts signs against idling.
"I see people sitting in their car texting, on their phone or keeping their car warm for fares," Beerman said, adding that "every third or fourth car" he sees on Main Street is idling.
City Hall's efforts to combat vehicle idling are part of the municipal government's environmental program, one of the priorities at the Marsac Building. Park City leaders see a changing climate as one day threatening the ski industry that is critical to the local economy. Idling vehicles, leaders say, release emissions into the atmosphere in addition to having harmful effects on people.
Park City officials have drafted a one-page rundown of the City Hall rule against idling. The document, which is distributed to businesses that depend on drivers, offers a list of benefits to the rules. There are financial benefits since it is commonly more expensive to idle than it is to turn off an engine and then restart it, the document says, noting that "idling gets ZERO MPG." Turning off an engine also is environmentally friendly and protects the health of the public, it says.
"Unnecessary vehicle idling contributes to a variety of emissions to the air, including pollution," the rundown says. "Help protect our air quality and natural beauty in Park City."