Record editorial: Park City at 15 mph could seem unnatural, lead to problems on roads

Park City officials and Parkites are scheduled to gather on Tuesday for an open house centered on the municipal government’s list of programs and projects, an opportunity for people to learn what City Hall will be working on in coming months.

One of the topics will be of special interest. City Hall is considering reducing the speed limit on many streets in Old Town to 15 mph, down from the 20 mph limit now. It is a step designed to increase safety for everyone – drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists – but it also is one that, we expect, will be difficult to manage and could eventually lead to frustration.

A speed limit of 15 mph is undoubtedly what some in the neighborhood would prefer, as speeding has long been worrying to the people of Old Town and elsewhere in Park City. We question, though, how realistic it is to reduce the speed limit to that figure.

It would seem unnatural on a public road, even on the two-lane streets of Old Town, other than those times when drivers, of their own accord, slow down on the snow-packed asphalt during storms. The 15 mph, at other times, will begin to impact the flow of traffic. Once that occurs, there will still be the danger of accidents, with the added possibility of road rage.

If the speed limit is lowered, meanwhile, the Park City Police Department will be put in the position of enforcing it. Traffic patrols are a standard assignment for officers, and stops for speeding and other moving violations are commonplace in Old Town. A 15 mph speed limit would, everyone must presume, lead to a rash of traffic stops even if the police were to only lightly enforce the maximum. Is that the best use of limited Police Department resources?

Leaders are expected to address speed limits twice over the course of several days, starting with the City Hall-hosted open house on Tuesday at the Park City Library from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and then again on Thursday during a City Council meeting.

The open house and the following City Council meeting will be important chances for Parkites to provide input. But should we drive to them at 15 mph?

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