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Tucson Modern Streetcar management works to maintain safety near tracks

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Savannah Douglas and Savannah Douglas | The Daily Wildcat Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat Ashley Hammond, a dance sophomore at the University of Arizona, uses the bicycle path along the streetcar route to make her way around campus on Tuesday. Hammond is excited for the streetcar to be active, but wishes it would progress quicker.

As Sun Link Tucson Streetcar vehicles go through testing along the tracks, the streetcar’s management team will continue to educate community members and streetcar operators about how to stay safe.

The streetcar’s Be Street-Smart educational safety campaign is an ongoing effort to educate citizens about the streetcar’s presence and how to be safe around the tracks.

Videos on the Sun Link website highlight details of how to ride a bicycle while sharing the road with the streetcar. Joan Beckim, the public outreach project manager for the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, said the educational videos also come in 10-second radio spots and a 30-second television public service announcement. Sun Link has shown its video at various events around Tucson and will continue to do so in the future, Beckim added.

Marwan Al-Mukhtar, the safety and security officer for the streetcar, said vehicle operators have been trained to use the turn signals and to pay attention to see if there are cyclists who would have priority in going before the streetcar turns.

“We trained our operators to keep an eye out,” Al-Mukhtar said, “and to look for any modes of transportation that they may run into.”

Shellie Ginn, the project manager for the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, said the management team has gathered input from local groups in the bicycle and pedestrian sectors in order to make the route as safe as possible.

“A lot of the striping, signage, green paint, bike dots that you see out there were a lot of hours spent evaluating every single area,” Ginn said, “and trying to make sure that it was done to mitigate [accidents resulting from the tracks] as much as possible.”

Ginn said the streetcar was designed to stop in the middle of the road so bicyclists wouldn’t have to worry about getting their tires caught in the tracks. The streetcar makes fewer curbside stops, which provides a safe area for bicyclists to ride.

People should be thoughtful and proceed with caution, Ginn said, especially in areas with green paint, which is where collisions between drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists are most likely to happen.

Students on campus said they ride their bikes without any traffic problems, but some hadn’t heard of or seen the educational campaign.

Citlaly Ojeda, a business sophomore, said she didn’t know about the campaign and that students aren’t as informed on the subject as they should be.

“I didn’t even know, and I ride my bike around [the streetcar corridor],” Ojeda said. “Now, I feel like I should look more closely because it’s true: [Traffic is] going to change. I think it’s going to be crowded.”

Kevin James, a Tucson resident who often rides through campus, said it’s everyone’s responsibility to learn to be safe around the streetcar.

“The bike has as much business to be on the streets as anybody else,” James said, “so it’s the driver of the streetcar that’s the one that’s responsible — and the bicyclist.”

- Follow Maggie Driver @Maggie_Driver


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