The streetcar is usually lumped in with bikes as alternative transportation that people who want more and greener options for getting around the city should support. But as streetcar loop construction begins this week in the Lloyd District, disrupting major bike routes on Broadway and Weidler, some bike activists and riders are bringing up the point that laying 3.3 more miles streetcar tracks will turn 3.3 more miles of roads into hazards for bikes. Should people who get around mostly by bike be against streetcar expansion?
On the one hand, the streetcar makes neighborhoods better for walking, which can slow down traffic and make streets safer for bikes. It also keeps some people from driving for short trips, which means less cars on the road. On the other hand, the tracks! The terrible tracks!
Earlier this month, fledgling local transit advocacy group Active Right of Way (AROW) put together a list of immediate requests to fix safety problems for bikes on the new streetcar loops, including lack of signage of track-crash potential on the new NW Lovejoy tracks and that the new Eastside tracks will lead to wheel entrapment and slipping.
Maps of the bike detours for streetcar construction and more thoughts on this below the cut!
Here's maps of the bike detours for streetcar construction in the Lloyd and Pearl (the city began issuing bike traffic and detour notices this year, which is the kind of good move activists are looking for more of):
Streetcar track construction restarts in the Lloyd District with work on N/NE Weidler from N Ross to NE First. N/NE Weidler will be reduced to two narrow lanes from Tuesday, January 4, through the end of January. In addition, N Vancouver will be closed to motorists from N Tillamook to N Broadway during this time. The public should expect delays, use caution in construction zones and use alternate routes if possible.
Travelers should be aware that the bike lane on NE Weidler will be removed in the construction zone. Cyclists will be guided onto sidewalks and through crosswalks and are expected to yield to pedestrians. Extra care should be used at the intersection of N Vancouver and Weidler due to the high volume of right-turning motorists.
Transportation writer and activist Elly Blue says that it would be better all around if the city planned solid bike infrastructure around the routes that the streetcar takes away—Blue occasionally used to bike on MLK Avenue, but had to stop because the tracks take up the space on the road that used to be safest for bikes. "It's not the end of the world, but it's not ideal," says Blue. "I love the streetcar but I see that we have these giant roads that you can drive a car on but only a little part that you can ride a bike on. Then when we try to put transit and biking and walking all in one little part of the road, it's not compatible."