City wants you to stay 'street smart' on the streetcar

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City wants you to stay 'street smart' on the streetcar

By Marcelino Benito. CREATED Aug 30, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When new trains roll down new cities streets, accidents happen. They run over cars and knock over pedestrians. Since 2009, there have been more than a 100 crashes involving Phoenix's lightrail system.

It also happened in Portland. The Tucson Streetcar project is modeled after Portland. So now that the city of Tucson's first streetcar finally pulled in, accidents can happen here too.

"It's going to be a steep learning curve," said avid cyclist and publisher of Tucson Velo, Mike McKisson. "There are going to be a lot of crashes. There just are."

Just drive or walk down 4th Avenue and you'll notice just how tight of a squeeze it is already. There's drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Now add in the streetcar and it'll get even trickier.

"We have to educate everyone across the board," said Shellie Ginn, project manager for the Tucson Modern Streetcar project. "So that's what we're trying to do."

So the city has launched "Streetcar Street Smart", a safety campaign meant to get you ready for the ride, walk or drive. And there's lots to get used to including new signs, new tracks, new striping along with new bike boxes and bike buttons.

"It's definitely a lot of new stuff that people don't know how to use," said McKisson.

The goal is to make sure that changes, so the city can avoid accidents once the first streetcar hits the tracks.

"I think that's going to be a big challenge," said McKisson.

The first streetcar should be out on the tracks undergoing testing in a few weeks. The entire system won't be up and running until next summer.