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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,981

    Streetcars, bikes & whole ball of wax

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    Vancouver will have a trial short streetcar rail line that will run during the Olympics to handle large crowds. (from Olypmic Village Skytrain station to Granville Island). During Olympics, crowd capacity at Granville Island market area, is estimated at: 35,000 PER DAY. (Handy place to hang out for food and restaurant choices, art, shops, cultural events ..etc. away from any rainy days or even to enjoy outoors the views on beautiful days. Many tourists do come year-round.)

    Vancouver stopped having streetcars after 1958. Now, it's looking very seriously at reintroducing streetcars in downtown..which means building streetcar rails in roads, etc. after Olympics. According to Bombardier, a major rail train manufacturer, several European cities have increased their streetcar fleet and lines in past decade to deal with high density population growth.

    Coming from living in Toronto for 2 decades, from cyclist's standpoint, I find streetcars more of a hassle vs. buses or even trolley buses in sharing the road. However supporters do tout the greater capacity of streetcars to move more people in high density areas.

    Would you want streetcars introduced/stay in your city? Of course, this is more applicable to bigger cities.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 10-07-2009 at 09:35 AM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,981
    For Vancouverites with visitors: Olympic streetcar line will be free, Jan. 21, 2010 to Mar. 21, 2010. Then Vancouver will return the leased streetcars back to Brussels.

    Of course, us cyclists, it's just a spittin' distance to bike rain, shine or at night since there is a safe road parallel to the protected, fenced-in streetcar line (or busy 2nd St. on the other side.)
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    1,648
    When I lived in San Francisco I used the streetcars to get to work. In general they worked pretty well, except for the day that they launched the automated controls in the Market Street tunnel, and it took me nearly two hours to get to work, instead of the usual 30 minutes.

    I probably complained a lot about transit in SF when I lived there, but since then I have moved to cities with even less transit, and in hindsight SF did a pretty good job.

    Seattle launched a streetcar line in 2007. I don't know of any specific numbers, but anecdotally it has had mixed reviews. My office was right in the middle of the line. Basically I could walk to either end of the line in about the same amount of time it took to wait for a streetcar and ride it.

    From a cyclist's point of view, there have been a number of accidents associated with the placement and design of the rails. They decided to put the streetcar in the curbside lane, instead of the inside lane as it is in other systems. Perhaps they decided they didn't have room for an island for riders to wait on, I don't know. Part of the route is (used to be) one of primary ways to get downtown for cyclists, and there have been incidents of cyclists slipping/getting caught on the rails, with pretty serious injuries. The city has responded by trying to route cyclists onto parallel streets, but it's hard to say how successful this has been. In my case, I rode on the sidewalk, as there wasn't enough pedestrian or vehicle traffic in this neighborhood that there would be many potential conflicts.

    I have brought my bike on the streetcar, once. There was plenty of room -- I didn't feel like I needed to fold my bike up -- and it allowed me to skip a couple of scary intersections/take a weird route on the way to put the bike in DH's car which was parked downtown.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    Cleveland has a pretty effective public transport system at the moment. It did have a streetcar system at one point, but that function, I think, has been taken over by buses (and the buses have bike racks!). Cincinnati, on the other hand, is served only by a private bus company, which has spent most of the last five years or so cutting back its routes. It also had a street car system at one point, but that was abandoned in the 50s, and the streetcars that weren't scrapped actually ended up in San Francisco. It would be nice if it had a public transport system of any sort, but I don't think that's going to happen any time soon.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    403
    I was in some random little town in Austria last summer and rode on a street with cobblestones and a street car that ran right down the middle of the street. At some point (near a river), the rail lines veered right (you know, into what would be a bike lane), and i had to dismount and lift my bike over the rail lines. Aside from the scariness of parallel lines to where I am riding, street cars seem to be a good way to get people around a city. Just be careful of getting your tire stuck in one of the rail lines... I have heard horror stories (particularly on skinny road bike tires).

 

 

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