Editor’s note: A lawyer friend of Tucson Velo pointed out a section of A.R.S. 28-101 that excludes vehicles that run on tracks as motor vehicles. Here’s the snippet:
58. “Vehicle” means a device in, on or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway, excluding devices moved by human power or used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.
Of course the streetcar team’s own safety video suggests the driver must obey all the same rules as a motorist.
The streetcar is safe for cyclists and and drivers don’t have to give cyclists three feet of space because it isn’t a motor vehicle, according to city officials quoted in an Inside Tucson Business article.
The article, in which I was quoted, was published yesterday and looks at the issue of bicyclist safety and parking issues along the route.
Here’s a snippet about the streetcar not being a motor vehicle:
McKisson said a short-term fix to the problem is for streetcar drivers to train drivers to follow bicyclists and only pass when they have the opportunity with three feet. However, he still thinks cyclists would be getting the “short shrift” in the current model.
“When the rubber hits the road, the cyclists are the ones who are going to be seriously injured,” he said.
However, the streetcars are not subject to the three-foot rule, according to City Attorney Mike Rankin. The Arizona statute only applies to motor vehicles and streetcars are not motor vehicles, he said.
Regardless, Rankin said, “Safety is at the top our concerns,” and despite the rule not applying, “Our training stresses that the streetcar will not pass cyclists unless there is sufficient space to do so safely.”
According to the A.R.S. 28-101 the definition of a motor vehicles is a “self-propelled vehicle.”
A.R.S. 28-735 says:
A. When overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, a person driving a motor vehicle shall exercise due care by leaving a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet until the motor vehicle is safely past the overtaken bicycle.
Both Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild andTucson Sun Link co-manager Andy Quigley say the streetcar is safe.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said he believes that the current system is safe, but problems lie in its execution. The responsibility to educate pedestrians and bicyclists about potential dangers with the streetcar lies with the city, he said.
While he said he’s focused on getting the system up and running, adjustments to the current parking system are something he anticipates.
Quigley said the current situation is safe for bikers, but a potential fix would be to convert parking spaces to back-in parking on narrower streets. In the meantime, he said that it will take education for bikers, cars, pedestrians and the streetcar to learn to coexist together.
“We believe the system is designed to facilitate multi-modal transportation,” Quigley said.
Check out the whole story over on Inside Tucson Business.