Living Streets Alliance is a strong supporter of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar. We feel it is a critical part of developing a truly walkable, bikeable, and human-scaled city center. When these modes are combined, they have the potential to create a robust, world-class multi-modal transportation system — something that LSA advocates for each and every day of the year. We have gathered this information in hopes of offering informed solutions and improving safety for all modes along the Streetcar Corridor.
After 18+ months of collecting crash reports (August 2012 to April 2014), we’ve decided it’s time to share the results of the reports we’ve collected so far using our Streetcar Track Crash Reporting tool. We went through all the reports we received and removed any duplicates we found, removed any reports that occurred on the older trolley tracks, and generally cleaned them up. The data we’re releasing has been stripped of any identifying information. Bear in mind that unless an accident involves a motor vehicle, there is no police record and no data about the crash; we’re collecting this data to make sure that safety can be improved for all road users in an evidence-based way.
You can see all the data here at the links below. For more information, please contact us.
- LSA Streetcar Track Crash Data (to see raw tabular data).
- LSA Streetcar Track Crash Data — Heat Map (to see clustering of crashes)
- LSA Streetcar Track Crash Data — Incident Map (click on pins for crash details)
Total reports: 86 in 18 months
Percentage of riders wearing helmets: 64%
Percentage of riders with more than 3 year’s experience riding in urban environments: 69%
Percentage of riders older than 30: 54%
Percentage self-describing their injuries as “Major Cut(s)/Broken Bone(s) or Visit to the Hospital (incapacitating injury)”: 30%
Percentage of accidents caused by obstacles blocking bicycle lane: 28%
Percentage of accidents caused by evasive maneuvers: 11%
Percentage “resolved” — i.e. fixes put into place to prevent further incidents (red curb, etc.): ~15%
All crashes involved bicyclists hitting the pavement after getting their wheels caught in the tracks; we have no reports of anyone being struck by other vehicles, streetcars, or pedestrians (aside from one incident in which a driver opened a car door as a cyclist approached).
Crashes occurred all along the streetcar route, but were clustered in areas with heavy car and pedestrian traffic, as well as areas with congestion and loading. The Main Gate area, with double-parked cars, taxis, loading vehicles, and pedestrians saw a large number of reports. The notorious Toole Ave/4th Ave intersection also saw a heavy cluster of crashes, though it should be noted that some of these were when the bicycle bypass was obstructed due to construction. (It has recently been improved by the Streetcar Team for bicyclists as of May 2014, and the “Jim Glock Bypass” has been re-opened). The intersection of 4th Ave and University also saw a large number of crashes, though the new no-parking zone installed by Tucson Department of Transportation appears to have helped reduce their frequency. Very few crashes were reported west of Stone Ave; there are fewer destinations there, and few areas with curbside parking. Also, throughout downtown the tracks are often in the left or a dedicated lane, making it less likely that cyclists will be riding in close proximity and parallel to them.
The embedded map below will allow you to see the crash description and basic info of each report. You can also go directly to Google to see a larger version of the incident map.
We have grouped the reports into basic categories to help analyze them more easily. Assignment to these general categories is subjective based on the narratives provided, and different readers may disagree with some of the decisions.
When nothing else indicated, we assume that the rider simply crossed at a bad angle.
Rider had to take sudden action to avoid cars, pedestrians, etc.
|Obstacle in bike lane
Cars, construction fences, pedestrians in normally designated bike lane
Areas where a parked car or curb provided too little room to avoid tracks
Rider didn’t see chicane
Water obscured tracks location or make them slippery.
|Notice totals add up to more than the total of reports as some causes were multiple|
Please note that these are self-described injuries and they are unverified. Police reports use a much stricter classification system for injuries, and these are not done in that manner.
|Severity of Injury||Number|
|Scrapes/Bumps/Bruises (minor injury)||
|Major Cut(s)/Broken Bone(s) or Visit to the Hospital (incapacitating injury)||
Crash reporters spanned a large range of ages, with 14 reports coming from residents 60 or older.
Some crash reporters shared images of their injuries.
What can be done to reduce the number of streetcar track related crashes?
Education and enforcement are go-to solutions, and to a certain extent they help. Ensuring that bicyclists understand the danger that tracks can pose if crossed and inappropriate angles will help. Ensuring that drivers are aware of the issues that cyclists face will also help. Making sure that no parking zones and parking standards are enforced quickly will help. But in many of the crash reports we’ve received, what we heard over and over again was that the cyclist knew the tracks were dangerous but they were caught by the tracks and crashed anyway. Many talked about how lucky they felt that they weren’t hit by cars after falling.
The surest solution is to provide bicyclists with dedicated space like the newer streetcar lines in Seattle are doing wherever possible. Dedicated space ensures that bicyclists are never forced to cross the tracks at unpredictable angles due to obstructions in their path. It also helps drivers by making sure they know where they’re supposed to be and they they don’t have to drive into the center lane to give bicycles a safe passing distance.
What can I do right now?
When you drive, try to park as close to the curb as possible, and look BEFORE you open your door to get out. Give cyclists plenty of room. Take your time and slow down. Don’t park in no-parking zones, even for a minute while you run in to grab something. Many cyclists can go by during the time you’re parking for “just a minute” and in many no-parking areas the tracks are so close that you’ll be forcing cyclists to cross the tracks at dangerous angles.
When you cycle, try to ensure you have enough room in front of you to have space to take evasive action if something unpredictable happens. If you or someone you know crashes, report it! The situation can’t be fixed if there’s no information about why and where these crashes are happening.
We can only present data that we have received; we suspect there have been many more crashes that we don’t know about than are reported here.
A special thank you to all the bicyclists who took the time to tell their stories (some of them literally doing so while sitting in the ER.)