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US: Streetcars Blossom, but so Does Controversy

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Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
4/20/2014 7:07:27 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Gaudí killed by a streetcar
Hi Pablo,

I hadn't heard of Antoni Gaudi, so I looked him up. Some very interesting buildings. Also, his failure to receive prompt care speaks to the inherent bias of many humans who are less interested in providing care to poor people. (At least I carry some ID!) But that's another subject....

Still, totally noise-free transportation can be dangerous. I assume it will be discussed in the years ahead as new types of [silent] transportation are developed.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
4/18/2014 3:39:41 AM
User Rank Blogger
Gaudí killed by a streetcar
"the problem of silent electric cars (they can cause accidents)"

I just remembered that Antoni Gaudí, the famous Catalan architect. was killed by a tram in 1926, when he was walking to church. Since he didn't carry ID and was dressed poorly people assumed he was a beggar, and did not received innmediate attention. When he was taken to the hospital it was too late.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
4/17/2014 11:54:25 PM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Perfect for city center
Hi Pablo,

Thanks for the info. I didn't realize sound was an important consideration in streetcars/trams. However, since I've discussed in this blog's comments the problem of silent electric cars (they can cause accidents) with CitySolver, I guess I should have considered it further. I don't remember reading a single article even mentioning the importance of noise (or lack thereof) for streetcars, although most of what I've read focused on U.S. developments.

Also, the U.S. is known not only for its large number of roads but also for their number of lanes. As a big fan of public transportation (and bicycles), I've written a bit about techniques use to slow the speed of cars and trucks, such as purposely constructing winding roads. Some U.S. cities are using these techniques, especially as more milliennials and seniors move to the cities for, among other things, walkability. It's definitely why I have have always been a big city guy.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
4/16/2014 7:08:35 AM
User Rank Blogger
Perfect for city center
"Streetcars can succeed in Europe because they are firmly integrated as a major component of a country's overall transportation ecosystem, often travel in a lane separate from traffic, and serve populations that are more attuned towards public transit than America's car-oriented culture."

Alan, one of the main advantages of trams is silence. That is why many European cities are re-installing them to use in the city center. And overhead lines are no longer a problem, as the city of Seville has demostrated.

European cities have longer discovered that they can't absorb more cars, and they are reducing lanes and street parking to discourage motorists. The installation of tram lines goes well with these policies.

Pablo Valerio
Pablo Valerio  
4/16/2014 7:00:39 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Minor issue
@NewDream, the latest generation of Electric Busses can run for over 150 miles without charging, enough for a full day of service in a normal city line.

Barcelona has been testing a BYD K9 electric bus for the past six months (on a regular line) and the initial results are exceeding the expectations.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
4/16/2014 4:17:16 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Minor issue
Hi NewDream (Chuck),

I've taken very few electric buses and there aren't many around my Washington, D.C. area. I wouldn't be surprised if batteries would allow them much more freedom from overhead lines. In general I prefer subways and regular light rail, but I'll take what I need to get places. My area has good public transportation with several modes, including a District/Maryland/Virginia bike share program.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
4/16/2014 4:12:02 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Minor issue
Hi NewDream (Chuck),

I generally don't have to cross streetcar or train tracks, but I have in the past, so I can understand the problem of bicycle wheels getting caught in the tracks.

NewDream
NewDream  
4/16/2014 3:46:41 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Minor issue
Alan, I was thinking about this issue (the trolley power connector losing contact and stranding the electric bus) and I realized I was revealing my age... I think that the modern versions of electic buses are more likely to use a big battery and wireless recharging, and so they will be able to navigate several miles away from their primary route.

NewDream
NewDream  
4/16/2014 3:40:44 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Minor issue
I have to cross train tracks on my bicycle on a regular basis. If you are too close to being parallel with the tracks they WILL guide your bicycle tire into the groove and you may very likely lose control. But if you use a little common sense and go across instead of along the tracks you will be fine. I seriously doubt that the weather conditions will affect this very much. Wet tracks will make it harder for the train, or streetcar, to stop...just like wet roads make it harder for the non-tracked vehicles to stop.

Alan Reiter
Alan Reiter  
4/16/2014 2:59:30 AM
User Rank Blogger
Re: Minor issue
Hi NewDream (Chuck),

Well, then there could be a problem with the buses if they have to move away from the wires. But an urban planner/math analyst could figure out the possibilities and odds.

I'm glad you like The Trolley Song. I suggested it. "Meet Me in St. Louis" was a nice movie.

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