Tom Clyde: How slow can you go?
An Arkansas man was arrested this week following an altercation over a fender bender in a parking garage after a Razorbacks football game. After a minor collision, the drivers began fighting, and it escalated until Doug Ramsey bit the other man’s nose off. The story is gruesome enough as it stands, but what makes it irresistible is that Ramsey is (or was) the COO of Beyond Meat, the company making vegetable and chemical based, imitation hamburgers. Somehow, in the time it took to bite another man’s nose off, Beyond Meat went way beyond–from vegan to cannibal. The Beyond Meat marketing department isn’t sure what to do with the story, but it does tend to butch-up the image of the vegan burger eaters.
Of course the parking garage at the Razorbacks’ stadium isn’t the only place with nose-biting traffic. The Park City Council is constantly fielding complaints from residents about traffic, parking and speeding. There are no easy solutions, but they seem determined to make things considerably worse.
The latest move is a suggestion of lowering the speed limits in town to a ridiculous 15 mph. That would apply to all streets within the City except for those under State control—224, 248, and oddly, Marsac Avenue to Guardsman Pass. Ironically, on the roads the City can’t control, there are a lot of times when 15 mph would be a big improvement. If they could get inbound traffic moving at 15 mph on 248 in the mornings, and outbound in the evenings, it would eliminate the urge to bypass the clogged main roads by cutting through the neighborhood streets. The neighborhood streets are uncongested for the most part, and I guess people are driving quite fast through the open roads of Prospector and Thaynes to avoid the gridlock on what are supposed to be the higher capacity highways. I’m all for 15 mph on 248. It would be a real improvement over what we experience now.
Nobody really knows what the traffic pattern will look like this winter, other than it will be different. PCMR is charging $25 a day to park at the resort, and requiring a reservation to do it. Parking at the Canyons base area is still free, and the assumption is that a lot of resort traffic will park at the Canyons instead of coming into town at all. That will make getting on the mountain at the Canyons base even worse than it is now, but might reduce the congestion in town. Or might convince people to avoid the parking charge and reservation hassle by parking next to a bus stop someplace else in town.
So there will be tighter parking restrictions on neighborhood streets, and other businesses with big parking lots will have to hire parking militias to avoid having PCMR’s parking problem become their parking problem. My guess is there will be a lot of bewildered Epic Pass holders from Salt Lake driving around looking for a place to park, generating more traffic in unpredictable places.
If only there were a 750 car parking lot on the outskirts of town where all those people could park and take frequent, non-stop shuttle buses to the base of the lifts. But we’ll try everything else first, 15 mph speed limits, tow trucks yanking cars out of town, armed guards at the grocery store parking lots—anything other than providing bus service to an existing park and ride lot.
I tried driving through my own neighborhood at 15 mph. It turns out my car wants to idle at about 20 mph. I don’t drive anything exotic. It’s a basic Subaru like everybody else in ski country. In drive, without touching the gas, it will creep up to 20 mph. So to stay within the City’s legal limit of 15 mph, we will all be riding the brakes. There’s the new growth opportunity—a brake replacement franchise in the Arts & Culture District.
The overall goal seems to be making Park City as hostile a place as possible, which is an odd thing to do in a town that exists on the hospitality industry. No parking, no driving—we might as well install tire rippers in the pavement out by the McPolin barn. I’m not sure how the town functions if the employees necessary to open every business in town are blocked from getting into town. It sends an odd message to the guests, too, that they are completely welcome in town as long as we don’t actually have to see, hear, or share space with them. I get it, I just don’t see it as a workable future.
In our broken housing market, we rely on 15,000 people a day commuting into the Park City area for work. That’s everywhere from the Outlet Mall to the top of Deer Valley. If they can’t get to work, businesses don’t function. There simply isn’t a mass transit alternative in place that can move that many people. If we don’t want that traffic in town, and there really are limits to the capacity of the streets in town, figure out an alternative. Saying “no” isn’t a solution. A 15 mph speed limit seems like it can only make congestion worse. Dare I say we’re biting off the nose to spite the face.
This is that weekend. At least, I think it might be. The one perfect fall weekend where the aspen trees are orange and yellow against the evergreens and the maples are red, and the slant of the light tells us the days are getting shorter.
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