D.C.

Streetcar tracks a danger to cyclists on H Street

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WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- As excited as people are about the D.C. Streetcar Program starting up by the end of the year, many remain worried due to the impact that the tracks are having on cyclists.

The flourishing H Street Corridor in NE Washington is expected to boom by year’s end when new streetcars begin ushering in even more consumers.

"This is a place where people really want to come and hang out and spend their money," says Dara Ward of the D.C. Streetcar Program.

But this particular program – designed to improve business in the area – has proven somewhat dangerous for two-wheeled travelers.

“I didn’t realize that all of a sudden there were trolley tracks," says bike commuter Amanda Lewis. "My wheel got stuck and I went flying."

Last fall, Lewis’ front bike tire met an unforgiving force: the streetcar track. She left the scene with a broken arm and returns with a note of caution to cyclists:

"I could imagine someone coming down that hill faster and something more serious happening," she says.

“That kind of ruins everything for me," says Siddhartha Malone, another bike commuter. She nearly crashed just today.

“Yeah, my tire just got stuck in the track here and it happens all the time and I don’t like it," she says. "Messes up my whole groove.”

As a professional key cutter, locksmith Lon Porter knows a thing or two about grooves. From his perch at 12th and H St. he sees just about everything and goes up and down the street. According to him, violent encounters with these tracks are commonplace.

"The tire gets stuck in the track and boom -- over they go," says Porter.

“I’m all for the trolley and for light rail and better forms of transportation, but I think there’s need to be adequate warning so people don’t get hurt," says Amanda Lewis.

Even the spokesperson for the streetcar program doesn’t advise riding on the route, which even Ward deems "dangerous." In fact, signs have already been posted, warning riders of the tracks.

"The best way to avoid an accident along H Street is to not cycle on H Street," says Ward.

City officials are so concerned about this issue that they have agreed to build new bike lanes on the streets that run parallel to H Street on G and I streets. They hope those new lanes will be completed before the streetcar starts running.

So while H Street may be one of the coolest places to be in the District, you may want to enjoy the view from the sidewalk for now.

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