Park City road change prompts worries about bicyclists dodging drivers, other dangers
City Hall receives broad criticism for Park Avenue reconfiguration with a bicycle lane
Near-miss traffic accidents.
Bicyclists in some cases seeming to be within inches of moving vehicles.
A reconfiguration of an important stretch of Park Avenue, introduced by City Hall in May, has received an early round of criticism two months after the alterations were made.
The municipal government this week released five pages of comments centered on the reconfiguration with critics providing the overwhelming amount of input. The comments were culled from social media posts, a City Hall engagement system and an email. Officials released the comments anonymously, but it appears likely many of them were submitted by people who live on Park Avenue or on nearby streets as well as people who use the section of street regularly.
The alterations were designed to make the section of Park Avenue — between the 9th Street and Deer Valley Drive intersections — safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. City Hall re-striped Park Avenue for a bicycle lane on the west side of the road, introduced a no-parking restriction on the east side of the road and put in parking restrictions on the west side of the road. Flower planters were later added.
The bicycle lane received the most attention as the reconfiguration was launched. Some at the time were worried the space required for the bicycle lane would narrow the amount of blacktop available for drivers on the two-lane road. Vehicles headed in different directions have appeared to be closer to one another under the reconfiguration than they were before.
“Can we simply redirect bikers to the rail trail that’s just few feet away? There is not enough room for all of this, it’s very very dangerous, cars are dodging each other,” one person wrote, apparently referring to a pedestrian-bicyclist route on the eastern edge of City Park.
Another person wrote: “Traffic is slower but bikers are dodging cars that are dodging each other — not wide enough for all this especially in peak traffic (car+bike) times. — problem still, please address.”
But one of the supporters of the redesigned Park Avenue is pleased with the results, indicating there is more of a sense of a neighborhood.
“Thanks so much for the improvements the city has made. It gives our area more of a village feeling rather than a just a busy street,” the person wrote.
The reconfiguration is a pilot project, and people who live along Park Avenue opted for the design over others that were under consideration. Traffic and speeding drivers have long been one of the chief complaints of Parkites, including those living in Old Town. Leaders have taken numerous steps over the years to improve bicyclist and pedestrian routes, something they say reduces traffic and provides environmental benefits. As the reconfiguration was undertaken in the spring, City Hall said it would “create a new neighborhood-centric streetscape that elevates pedestrian and bicycle safety, access to public transit, maintains on-street parking, and offers a more welcoming environment.”
The part of Park Avenue that was reconfigured serves as one of the routes for drivers headed to and from Main Street and the residential streets of Old Town. It is heavily used with drivers headed to or leaving from a range of destinations like Main Street, the neighborhood, City Park and the Park City Library.
“Though only a pilot project (mostly paint resurfacing and beautification) intended to experiment with a streetscape that better reflects a neighborhood aesthetic, the change is significant …” a City Hall report submitted to Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council that accompanied the comments said.
Shortly after the launch, dashes of yellow striping were applied to Park Avenue to assist drivers and the previous center line was covered with black paint.
Some of the other comments submitted to City Hall regarding the Park Avenue reconfiguration include:
• “Will this street remain two-way? It really doesn’t leave much room for two cars to pass each other. I drive it and it’s very tight, seems dangerous.”
• “On the busiest section of the busiest road in Park city 150 feet away from a bike path built exclusively for bicycles brilliant I’m glad you guys are using your time in office wisely.”
• “? good thing comments don’t correlate to votes ? PC Government does it again. You guys need to chill… leave PC alone, it’s the greatest town for a reason. If you have so much tax money to burn, then consider taxing less ?”
• “This whole program is an enormous waste of tax payer dollars, puts a hazardous environment on Park Ave for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians, creates massive confusion and eliminates more than HALF of parking on Park Ave (ironic) according to your own figures. Makes no sense at all especially when there is already a bike path about 100 ft away in the park that runs the whole length up to Main St. This pilot program needs to be shut down.”
• “The area was already bike friendly so nothing substantial was gained with this change. This will cause major traffic headaches in an area already not built for the kinds of traffic it sees during peak tourism months.”
• “This is so great!”
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A member of the Park City Planning Commission for at least the second time in less than a year spoke publicly about a concept that would financially involve City Hall in a development proposal at Park City Mountain Resort. Planning Commissioner John Phillips did not address the concept in any depth during a lengthy meeting.