Tucson works with UA to inform public of streetcar safety precautions
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
One of the new streetcars was being tested yesterday on the streets of Tucson on Oct. 3. Although not ready for public use, it is training and certifying drivers.
With an increase in the streetcar’s presence on campus, the city is working with the UA in order to inform the community about safety precautions while sharing the road.
The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, which will run from the University of Arizona Medical Center to Congress Street west of the freeway, was tested on campus for the first time on Friday and will be tested more often in the upcoming months as more streetcar vehicles arrive.
The streetcar’s public relations team has been visiting different campus groups like Greek Life and the UA Visitor Center to talk to the community about streetcar safety and to show a six-minute public service announcement to the groups, said Joan Beckim, public relations coordinator for the streetcar project. The team also created an online safety campaign earlier this year, “Streetcar Street-Smart,” where the Tucson community can find videos and tips on how to safely maneuver along the corridor.
“Be it as a bicyclist, pedestrian or a motorist that [the community] just be alert of the surroundings,” Beckim said. “People will see [the streetcar] on campus more frequently and should be prepared.”
Shellie Ginn, Tucson Streetcar project manager, said streetcar testing on campus would initially take place during “non-peak” hours, meaning on the weekends before 3 p.m. However, as testing increases and more drivers go through training, the vehicles will run through campus anytime and along the entire system. The streetcar’s technology was designed for pedestrian areas, Ginn added.
“We knew going into it that we were eventually going to be running it in that area,” Ginn said. “So we’ve got to be prepared to be able to run it [on campus] during testing.”
The university is also working with the city to continue weekly classes where bicyclists ride along the corridor and learn how to bike safely along the tracks. The Pima County Department of Transportation led the free classes on campus last semester.
However, some UA students said they continue to see or get into accidents because their bicycles are getting stuck in the tracks. Selina Rodriguez, a psychology sophomore, said she fell off her bike about a week ago because of the streetcar track.
“People just think that you’re falling because you’re falling and they don’t realize that it’s the track’s fault,” Rodriguez said. “Of course, I think it’s a cool idea for transportation … I’m torn on it. There’s always going to be pros and cons.”
Bill Davidson, marketing and public information manager for UA Parking and Transportation Services, said educating the UA community about streetcar safety will be a continuous process as new students and professors come to the UA each semester. PTS staff are also educating through distribution of safety brochures in popular places around campus like the Student Recreation Center and the Student Union Memorial Center, Davidson said.
“I think … we have done all we can,” Davidson said. “But we have to be consistent with it in order to keep reaching the people that come into campus.”
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