EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso Streetcar rails have been installed, but as construction for the project continues, some people are worried about safety.
John-Lloyd Gardner said the numerous streetcar barricades and construction can be a hassle when riding his bike. He said he recently “took a really bad spill” on his commute through Stanton Street.
“I believe I hit one of the trolley tracks, and it's really slick on these road tires,” said Gardner. “It took the skin off my arm, my knee and I sprained my wrist at least. It's still, still a little bit painful.”
Project spokesman Martin Bartlett said the streetcar project, along with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority, has put out 18 different animated safety videos. Nine are in English and nine are in Spanish, said Bartlett.
He said the videos are just a starting point to address safety, and more resources are coming in the upcoming months, including door-to-door information.
Bartlett did have immediate advice for biking over the tracks, and said, as with anything new, there’s always a learning curve.
“If folks cross those rails as close to 90 degrees as possible, that's really a very important message,” said Bartlett. “It’s not just new to El Paso cyclists, we know from other communities that have put rails in streets that's something that takes getting used to across the country.”
Crews are taking extra precautions when it comes to safety. Roadblocks, newly-painted street marking and reflectors have all been added on Stanton Street.
Since the streetcar tracks installed on Oregon Street are in the bike lane, Bartlett encourages cyclists to use the bike lane on Stanton Street. "This is the region's first two-way protected cycle track," he said.
The El Paso Street Car Project is not completely finished. It’s expected to be rolling out at the end of 2018.