Update: See the response by the Streetcar General Manager here.
My family and I had the very unfortunate experience of being harassed by a Sunlink Streetcar driver on our way to the Bike Fest Finale Thursday afternoon.
According to others at the finale, we are not alone.
The four of us — the kids in the cargo bike and Irene on her own bike — came to a stop at Sixth Street heading south on Fourth Avenue. There was a car on the left of us also waiting for the light to change.
As we waited for the light, I heard the streetcar pull up behind us.
The light turned green and the car and I both began to accelerate. Once the car passed us, we were about three-quarters of the way through the intersection.
We began to move left to position ourselves out of the door zone and into a position to prevent the streetcar from attempting to pass us too closely.
The street is marked with sharrows to show cyclist where to ride to be outside of the door zone. Riding on the sharrow puts you close to tracks and does not allow a streetcar to pass you because there is not enough room on Fourth Avenue. (We covered just how narrow the safe area for cyclists is on Fourth Avenue)
Streetcar officials have said the standard operating procedure for drivers remain behind cyclists until there is three feet of space to pass them.
The streetcar driver rang the bell as they normally do when she began moving, but then the bell didn’t stop. She rang it for about 15 seconds straight. It was clearly designed to intimidate us to get out of her way.
When I turned around she started yelling at me from inside the streetcar and violently motioned for us to get out of her way.
I also began yelling and pointed straight down to the bicycle sharrow that I was riding right over.
Let me be clear I was riding safely, legally and with my children. The streetcar driver clearly did not care about the safety of my family and instead seemed only to care about her schedule.
We neared the streetcar stop outside the Food Co-Op and I pulled over expecting her to stop at that stop so that I could find out what her problem was.
Instead she sped by and continued down Fourth Avenue.
After trying to compose myself, I called the SunTran/Sunlink customer service to file a complaint about the harassment. A manager with Sunlink returned my call a few minutes later and to her credit she took my complaint very seriously and apologized immediately.
She said the safety manager would review the video from the onboard cameras and call me Friday morning to discuss it.
We continued to the Bike Fest Finale and several other cyclists said they had been having more and more issues with streetcar drivers.
When I hear back from Sunlink officials, we will update the story.
If you have an issue with a streetcar driver, be sure to record the location, time of day and if possible the number of the streetcar. You can report it to (520) 624-5656 or email@example.com
Read more about the streetcar and some of the issues other cyclists have had here.