/ Modified sep 27, 2012 4:31 p.m.

Modern Streetcar Tracks Snare Cyclists

Bike riders say falls common; city engineers working on issues

Tucson's yet-to-arrive modern streetcar is already presenting a transportation problem for one segment of the commuting public -- bicyclists.

While Tucson consistently ranks as one of best cities when it comes to bicycling, some cyclists are finding that the new modern streetcar line can pose a hazard along well-established urban bike routes.

Shellie Ginn, program manager for the modern streetcar project, says much effort has gone into ensuring that the rail accommodates other modes of transportation, but “we have to understand that bicycles and track don’t go well together."

"A lot of the design has been done to lessen those conflict points,” Ginn says. “We’re trying to create guided areas so the cyclists know to cross in a perpendicular manner.”

Center-of the street stops, instead of curbside-stops, help push the tracks toward the middle of the road to give cyclists more room, and signage helps people stay on the designated bike path, says Ginn says.

Leander D’Ambrosio, a downtown resident who commutes by bike, says the tracks can still be difficult to navigate and have caused her to fall off her bike more than once.

“The wheels get stuck in the grooves,” she says. “The tracks certainly add a level of ‘obstacle course’ to the whole ride downtown.”

Daniela Diamante, director of El Grupo Youth Cycling and an American League of Bicycling Safety instructor, says the tracks pose a serious hazard for bike riders. Diamante says cyclists should cross at a perpendicular angle to avoid tires going into the recessed groove of the tracks.

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