The public launch of the Tucson Modern Streetcar is just a few days away.
While the initial route is a short and bikeable four-plus miles, some cyclists may want to use the streetcar to get out of the sun during the heat of the day or ride it to the end and bicycle from there.
Here’s how to ride the streetcar with your bikes according to the Sunlink website:
Cyclists dismount and wheel your bike to the stop. You’ll enter the same streetcar doors as pedestrians.
Look for seats that face each other and locate the yellow handle on the corner of the seat. Flip the seat up. Now you have room to stand with your bike.
You’ll stand with your bike on board. There is a designated area in the center of the streetcar for you to stand with your bike.
It sounds easy, but in practice may prove challenging if the streetcar is particularly crowded, or if someone is already sitting in the seats that fold up. Will you ask them to move?
According to Shellie Ginn on a live chat hosted by the Arizona Daily Star, bicyclists are asked to stand with their bikes in the middle of the streetcar.
“Bicycles are allowed to be brought on the streetcars. We ask that you stand with your bike holding on to the poles. The center portion of the streetcars have a lot of space allowing for bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers.”
That wasn’t the only interesting tidbit about bikes from today’s chat.
Ginn once again clarified she statement about moving bicyclists off fourth avenue.
“Allow me to clarify the statement made in the Arizona Daily Star aticle on Sunday. Bicycles will continue to be allowed to ride on the streetcar route. The Tucson Department of Transportation is also looking at parallel routes along the alignment to allow riders to use a roadway that does not have track on it. Thank you for allowing me to clarify this!”
Here’s how co-manager Andrew Quigley responded to a question about eliminating parking and automobiles along the route.
“Part of the reason for the streetcar project is to allow multi modal transportation. By eliminating cars along 4th and Congress we won’t be able to accomplish that goal. I think we need to evaluate this as we move forward.”
Later he wrote, “Our review of parking is ongoing. We always review it to see ways to improve. Do I think all parking is going to go way, no. Actually our loading zones also have the potential to impede us as well. Loading zones present just as much an obstacle if misused. Those zones are the life blood of our businesses.”
Ginn also responded to a question about bikes passing the streetcar when it was stopped. It seems there are mixed messages about streetcars passing bicyclists with three feet. In my own experience, the streetcar operators are avoiding tight passes after posting a video about a streetcar passing to closely.
“The streetcar route is proving to be a popular destination for many folks. This means that there is a lot of traffic (motor vehicle, bicycles and pedestrians). All users of the roadway are required to follow the rules of the road. This means that if you are on a roadway with one lane of travel, you are not allowed to pass the streetcar when it is stopped. When a streetcar is moving, bicycles can pass as long as it is safe to do so. Be careful of dooring. Streetcar operators are trained to not pass bicyclists in areas that provide less than 3 feet of distance. Please make sure to follow the signs and striping on the roadway.”
Ginn responded to a question about bicyclist safety along the route.
“The Streetcar team included multiple representatives of cycling groups and organizations in the planning, design and construction of the streetcar system. They assisted us in shifting to center stops to allow for the track to be moved closer to the center of the roadway. They also provided input on the signage, striping and education that is being provided to the community. Education and evaluation of the system will be ongoing as we prepare to go into operations on July 25th. We will continue to consider new ways of providing information on how to traverse the streetcar line and look into providing parallel paths that allow bicyclists to stay off of roadways with track. The Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator is looking into funding strategies.”
Check out the rest of the chat here.