Tag Archives: streetcar

the streetcar in motion

ok, don’t get too excited, the Atlanta Streetcar isn’t yet moving under its own steam but merely went for a guided tour of its future route while the distance from platforms, curbs, poles, street signs, and anything else within reach was checked. The overhead wires as well were under close inspection as the Z-shaped arm—pantograph (yeah i looked that up)—slid along them.

I took the inducement from the Creative Loafing headline seriously, “…bring the whole family!” it said, so N and I detoured up Auburn on the way home late Friday night. It was about 1:30am and since midnight the streetcar hadn’t gotten far from its home under the bridge. We found it at a standstill just about five blocks away, nearly to Woodruff Park. We hung out with the workers and a handful of onlookers for a bit, watching the measuring, and the, well it was kind of hard to tell what was going on exactly but the atmosphere was very relaxed, they had all night. We tried out the platform bench and watched as the streetcar was finally towed into the stop—it was moving!!

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on streetcar vs. bicycle

The Atlanta Streetcar is ALMOST HERE. That is to say of course, it is here, it’s been here, the boarding platforms are complete and the tracks are all down, we know, because we bike and, well >> warning-streetcar-tracks

Our friend K I’m sure is not the first one whose bicycle has run afoul of the new streetcar tracks, but she can tell you from experience that it ain’t pretty she’s lucky the most un-pretty it got for her was a big blood blister leading to a very nasty bruise on her thigh.

So naturally there’s been some discussion, inevitable disgruntlements, complaints and dire predictions of lawsuits and doomsday to come thanks to “poor planning.”

I looked into a few other city’s streetcar vs. bike experiences to get some perspective and came up with a number of lawsuits primarily in Seattle where the plaintiffs seemed primarily to be arguing “poor design” or lack of design for bicyclists. In these cases there was no separate bicycle lane or, in a recent issue, the bicycle lane was blocked by pedestrians getting on the streetcar resulting in a decision by the cyclist to enter the roadway where she wiped out on the tracks. One Seattle author asked, what do cyclists seek to gain with these lawsuits? and her point is valid.

My concern is that while bikes are a crucial piece of the transit puzzle, so too is public transportation, and I’m not sure how much good can come of one form of alternative transportation getting mad at another in a city that’s struggling (but really trying) to get out automobile gridlock. There will always be transportation choices, there need to be, so for our transit to work all modes have to coexist.

Coexisting usually means following the rules and here’s the way to do it in Atlanta. DO NOT RIDE ON THE SAME SIDE AS THE STREETCAR! In Atlanta, since streetcar traffic goes east on Edgewood and west on Auburn, bicycle traffic does the opposite and to reinforce the plan, bicycle lanes, sharrows, and signage only exist on the recommended riding areas so that cyclists are not at all encouraged to ride alongside the rails. In fact I think the handy signs above were recently installed.

Granted, we cyclists, hovering in a lovely free zone between vehicular and pedestrian traffic, are hard to discourage. But this is serious, tracks are hazards, but they are known hazards and you don’t wanna tangle with em, K can tell you.

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Yours truly, following the rules on Auburn Ave.