Record editorial: Park City road alteration for bicyclists laudable in theory, impractical in reality
Park City has long embraced opportunities to cater to those without a car. The free bus system, tunnels built for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as bicycle lanes, are notable investments in infrastructure designed for those preferring human power to gas power.
The efforts have been more effective than many acknowledge. Without options like the free buses the traffic would be even worse than it is today.
But now is the time — before summer tourism reaches its usual peak in July and August – to question a recent alteration to a busy section of road that is part of the municipality’s overall transportation program.
Officials in the spring started a pilot project on Park Avenue, one of the routes to and from Old Town, that involves a bicycle lane on the west side of the street and bicycle markings on the other side of the road. The program also includes parking restrictions.
The pilot project has effectively narrowed the width of the two-lane road for drivers, and it removed the center line. Anyone driving Park Avenue can see the parking restrictions that are meant to make room for the alteration have not, in practice, done so.
Park Avenue, we would argue, is now more dangerous to drivers and bicyclists alike than it was before the alteration.
As a result of the redone design, vehicles driving in opposite directions too often are within inches of each other as they pass. The slightest mistake by a driver could result in a front-end collision, something that could be devastating even at the relatively low speeds there. Moreover, we see a heightened threat of collisions between bicyclists and drivers with the competing uses packing a street like Park Avenue.
And the traffic is expected to increase substantially in coming weeks as the community enters the usually busy tourism stretch between Independence Day and Labor Day.
We see a better solution for bicyclists headed in and out of Old Town as being one that already exists. The paved pedestrian and bicyclist route on the eastern edge of City Park, just off Deer Valley Drive, covers much of the ground on the north-south axis that Park Avenue serves, while also providing easy access to points east and west.
That is a route always meant for pedestrians and bicyclists rather than the one on Park Avenue, which, though laudable in theory, is quickly proving impractical in reality.
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