Record editorial: Rash of auto-pedestrian collisions in Park City highlights need for increased safety
We’ve got to do better than this.
Over the last month and a half, there have been at least four serious auto-pedestrian collisions in Park City, including a tragic February pedestrian fatality and a January incident that severely injured and hospitalized a woman. The latest collision happened Monday, when a 71-year-old man required medical care after being hit by a driver pulling out of a parking lot on Park Avenue.
Four significant accidents occurring in such a short time frame is immensely troubling — and, sadly, they are not isolated incidents. Many Parkites and visitors, for instance, can share their own harrowing tales and close calls from traversing Park City on foot.
Frankly, the situation is unacceptable, particularly in a city that prides itself on walkability. For years, City Hall leaders have wisely sought to push people out of their cars in favor of active modes of transportation as a way to combat traffic congestion, but as the recent rash of incidents shows, pounding the pavement in Park City is not a risk-free proposition.
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While the details of these specific accidents vary, much of the burden of making our community safer for pedestrians falls on drivers. It’s incumbent upon everyone who gets behind the wheel to be on alert for pedestrians. That’s true year-round but especially during the winter season, when Park City is flush with visitors making their way around town on foot.
Pedestrians, of course, also bear responsibility for their own safety. They should be diligent about using sidewalks wherever they are available and should never assume that drivers will stop for them, even when they’re in a crosswalk.
City officials — and those in Summit County, for that matter — meanwhile must be strict about ensuring sidewalks are cleared promptly after snowstorms, giving pedestrians safe walking paths. It’s also time to take a close look at ways to improve safety in high-trafficked areas like Empire Avenue near Park City Mountain Resort, the site of the February fatality. The victim was struck while walking along a stretch of road that doesn’t have a sidewalk.
In the short-term, the Park City Police Department has increased patrols near high-risk crosswalks and will hopefully continue to crack down on careless drivers, as well as pedestrians who are not following proper procedure.
But we need a long-term solution.
Pedestrian safety, highlighted by the recent spate of collisions, is a critical issue. Let’s respond swiftly, and as a community, lest anyone else fall victim to a preventable tragedy.
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