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Jan 17, 2014 8:31 PM by John Patrick

Tucson cyclists find more safety concerns with streetcar

TUCSON - With streetcar testing underway the cycling community is seeing how dangerous the Tucson Streetcar can be.

By law motor vehicles must give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing by. However, on streets like Fourth Avenue where space is limited riders are finding the streetcar is getting a little too close for comfort.

Michael McKisson with TucsonVelo.com, a website dedicated to Tucson cycling, caught video of the streetcar buzzing by him so close he could almost reach out and touch it.

"It certainly wasn't the three feet of space and it was pretty frightening actually. It was the first time I had been passed by the streetcar and it was worse than I had imagined," explains McKisson.

David Bachman-Williams with the Bicycle Advisory Committee works closely with the City of Tucson and the Streetcar Project to ensure proper safety. Along with speed this sort of leap frogging of cyclists were two of his major concerns.

Bachman-Williams says, "We were promised by the streetcar people that they would train their drivers not pass the cyclists."

When McKisson's video was brought to the attention of those involved with the streetcar it really opened their eyes to how dangerously close the streetcars can get to those riding along side.

The City of Tucson is continuing to work on getting operators trained correctly and not to pass cyclists until it is safe.

Spokesperson Michael Graham issued this statement on the matter:

"The City of Tucson and Sun Link are committed to the utmost safety in our operation of the streetcar and sharing the road with bicycles."

They suggest when making a complaint that involves the streetcar to note the time and date along with the vehicle number on the streetcar so they can make sure the car operator is properly trained.

McKisson still believes the area is too congested with traffic, the streetcar and cyclists and could be a disaster waiting to happen.

"I'm hoping that nothing bad will happen but we'll see," says McKisson.

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