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Respect the rail: Be smart. Be safe. Be ready.

Date:August 24, 2015
Respect the rail: Be smart. Be safe. Be ready.

A generation has passed since streetcars last rumbled along Kansas City streets.

So when the streetcar returns downtown next year, it will be new for many Kansas Citians born long after the last streetcar was retired more than 50 years ago.

It’s why the Kansas City Streetcar Authority is ramping up efforts to teach the public about how to move safely with the streetcar as it glides along Main Street from Union Station to the River Market.

The streetcar safety campaign is called “Respect the rail:  Be smart. Be safe. Be ready.” It features blue-and-yellow signs that will be posted downtown spelling out various safety tips.

For many not born when streetcars last traversed city streets in 1957, this will be an introductory safety course. For others who lived during Kansas City’s streetcar era, this will be a brush-up lesson.

Either way, the streetcar authority is unveiling a series of safety messages directed toward riders, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.  The goal is to make sure that everyone  is safe along the streetcar’s two-mile route through downtown.

Here are these safety tips that the streetcar authority  will be promoting in the coming months:

  • Share the road: The streetcar will operate not only in the same road as a car, but in the same lane as well. Vehicles and streetcars must adhere to the same traffic laws. Passing a streetcar – whether it’s moving or stopped – is prohibited along the downtown route. Motorists are cautioned against ever turning in front of an oncoming streetcar.
  • Parking: Drivers are instructed to park within the white lines along the streetcar route to avoid interfering with the streetcar. Violations can carry fines between $50 and $500.
  • Pedestrians: Streetcars are not trains. They are electrically powered and quietly move along city streets. A streetcar traveling at 20 mph takes 60 feet to stop. Don’t ever walk in front of a moving streetcar. Use crosswalks to get across the street. Only cross the street when the light signals it’s OK to cross. And always, look before crossing.
  • Cyclists: Crossing the tracks for bike riders can be tricky if not done carefully. Cyclists should cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle to ensure they don’t get stuck. This warning extends to anyone on a scooter or skateboard. It also applies to anyone using a wheelchair or pushing a stroller.

Those are just some of the safety tips for making friends with the new streetcar. For the Kansas City Streetcar Authority’s entire safety campaign, go to www.kcstreetcar.org. Safety information also can be found on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.