Currently cars in Park City can lawfully idle for 3 minutes. Park City officials are discussing reducing this limit to 60 seconds. On the surface that sounds great. However, there is a state law that requires three warnings to be given before ticketing for idling ordinances. The Park Record’s Jay Hamburger wrote a good article about this stating that Park City has never issued a ticket with their 3 minute limit.
So, on your fourth offense you will be ticketed? It makes us almost want to try and get caught 4 times to see if we get the $30 ticket.
Fundamentally, the Park City officials pushing this are correct. Studies have shown that the break even time for idling is 10 seconds. If you idle more than 10 seconds, you should turn off your car in order to save gas and cause less harm on the engine.
So, if we are really going to do it, let’s make it 10 seconds. Sounds absurd, right? So is 60 seconds.
The problem with 60 seconds, or 10 for that matter, is that it makes every day actions mentally uncomfortable. Dropping off your kids and there is a short line… should I turn off/on the car 7 times? Dropping off friends at Deer Valley… will it take more than a minute? It just makes it less pleasant and doesn’t really benefit anyone.
What we want to do is make sure that the person we heard about on KPCW this morning, who was witnessed idling for 45 minutes, doesn’t do that. If you idle for 60 seconds or 3 minutes, what’s really the difference?
Our point is that spending this time making an ordinance that reduces time to 60 seconds will likely not change behavior. What it does do to the visitor seeing a sign that says, IT IS ILLEGAL TO IDLE MORE THAN 60 SECONDS is make it miserable for them. They are going to worry about it, wonder WTF, and probably not alter their behavior anyhow.
… And just like we could have better spent the 15 minutes it took to write this article, pointing out the fruitlessness of changing the ordinance, the Park City City Council and staff could likely spend their time more productively.
Worse than worthless.