The New Orleans streetcar line is an iconic part of this city. From the St. Charles line – the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world – to proposed new lines along North Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue, the streetcar links residents and visitors to scenic, affordable transportation.
However, many people use the same neutral grounds that the streetcars do for activities like jogging or walking. Practicing smart habits along the streetcar line is crucial. Here are a few ways to stay safe:
Know where conductors stop. Streetcar lines feature subtle signage that indicates where conductors stop to pick up passengers. Look for a pole with a small yellow sign that says “Car stop.” Wait for the streetcar to come, but give yourself enough distance so that you are not standing directly on the tracks. Once the car comes, you can enter at the front door to pay and, if convenient, exit at the back once you’re at your desired destination.
Don’t walk the line. Whether you’re on a bike or on foot, stay clear of the streetcar line. This typically means avoiding the neutral ground (median) altogether and choosing to stay on the sidewalk. Many pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists prefer the grassy area of the line, but this can be a dangerous place to tread. Give yourself – and the conductor – plenty of room to ensure optimal safety. The streetcars don’t go very fast, but they are so heavy that they cannot stop quickly. “It takes 111 feet for a streetcar to come to a complete stop,” said veteran streetcar operator Clarence Glover in a 2012 interview. “It’s just like a train, and deserves the same respect.”
Remember who has the right of way. If you need to make a turn across the streetcar line, use caution – and common sense – before proceeding. Check to see if a streetcar is making its way down the line, and if so, be patient! Wait for the streetcar to pass, and then make your turn once the line is clear. Each streetcar weighs 44,000 pounds: even if you’re used to seeing and dealing with streetcars in your daily commute, keep in mind that they deserve serious safety considerations.