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N4T Investigators: 2 recent lawsuits raise questions about streetcar track safety

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Sun Link streetcar tracks continue to cause injuries to bicyclists, according to two recent lawsuits filed in the Pima County Superior Court.

According to both lawsuits filed in the past two months, the rider sustained serious injuries when their bike tires became lodged in a streetcar track, causing the rider to fall to the pavement.

Ian Johnson, with the Living Streets Alliance, said there are still a lot of concerns about the streetcar tracks, but there are not many options at this point to change the design of the tracks.

“These tracks are in the ground, we are going to be living with this for awhile,” Johnson said.

Both lawsuits allege the city was negligent in placing adequate warning signs around the tracks.

However, David Bachman-Williams with the Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee, told the News 4 Tucson Investigators “there are lots of signs that educate bicyclists.”

Education is something both Johnson and Bachman-Williams say is essential to providing a safe environment for bicyclist, but Johnson said “the education efforts being made don’t necessarily reach everyone.”

Bachman-Williams said the City of Tucson has done enough to provide a safe option for bicyclists.

“I can point out dozen of features along the route along the line that show that bicycles were taken into account,” said Bachman-Williams.

But Johnson said one improvement he would like to see the city do, is to provide separate space for bikes and vehicles so they don’t have to share the already congested space around the tracks.

“And when you have that, you have plenty of room for bikes to ride not along the tracks and they don’t have to worry about cars dipping in their part of the lane or cars pulling out in front of them,” Johnson said.

Bachman-Williams said the city did take precautions when laying the track to provide bicyclists sufficient space to maneuver around cars, even making bends in the tracks and taking away on-street parking in specific spots.

“I think there is enough room for the streetcar, bicyclists and cars…it’s not like streetcars and bicyclists are incompatible,” Bachman-Williams said. 

Johnson said some bicyclists are trying to avoid riding in the area of the tracks, however, “most of the destinations in the Fourth Avenue, downtown area are along streetcar tracks.”

According to the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in both cases, they have five pending lawsuits alleging injuries from the streetcar tracks and say their investigation has revealed hundreds of bicyclists have fallen because of the tracks. 

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