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Streetcars and Street Design

This morning on the Streetsblog Network, Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic talks about streetcar plans in Washington, D.C. Without better street design, he argues, the capital's streetcars could end up mired in traffic:  

2828548503_05b93fe912.jpg(Photo: rocket ship via Flickr)
I have documented some of the quotidian situations that will result in delayed traffic as a result of the design of the District’s streetcar system. None of the problems are unique to streetcars -- in fact, they’re shared with any vehicle that must share its running way with automobiles, including buses. But streetcars are put in a particular predicament in each of the cases noted below because, unlike buses, they can’t change lanes. If systems are designed with major flaws, such as those illustrated below, this means that these trains will operate at significantly lower speeds than equivalent buses; the result: a big investment investment in public transportation could actually mean less mobility.

But take note, other cities: these structural issues can be resolved through better designed streets.

More from around the network: Decatur Metro writes about media coverage of a street narrowing project in Atlanta; things get lively in the comments. Broken Sidewalk has a post on how bad roads made transit more attractive in the early part of the 20th century. And Utility Cycling continues a series on search and rescue bike services.