Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Modern streetcars on narrow streets

One of the things that bugs me about much of the discussion about streetcars in DC is the insistence that many streets are "too narrow" to accommodate streetcars.  I get frustrated because the discussion ignores both historical practice in DC as well as elsewhere, as well as modern practice, particularly in Portland, Oregon, where in the Nob Hill District the streetcars run on some narrow streets.

It just frustrates me that so many people lack the inclination to seek out information rather than to just spout stuff off.
Streetcar in the Fall
Flickr photo by Paul Bingman of a Portland streetcar arriving at NW 23rd & Marshall Streets in the Nob Hill neighborhood.

I haven't been to Portland since they opened up the streetcar extension, so I don't know the practical effect on the streets in that area of the city.

Media, Pennsylvania has a streetcar running down its Main Street.
Streetcar in Media Pennsylvania

I can't seem to find a historic photo that I have of the streetcar on 4th Street NW in Takoma DC.

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At 12:54 AM, Blogger Chris Smith said...

In Portland, all we need is an 11 foot lane, although we prefer 12 feet when we can get it.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

But that is totally unequivocally irrelevant to DC. DC is unique. Our roads are unique. Our roads can't be compared to any other place even though our roads are used by the same kinds of motor vehicles and transit vehicles that exist elsewhere... Right? (Not really.)

Thanks for writing! And I hope to get out to Portland sometime next year to check out the new to me transit infrastructure (aerial tram, streetcar extension, maybe the commuter rail, maybe some of the light rail extension).

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous rg said...

One of the big advantages of streetcars/trams/light rail is that they do to need as much space as a bus or even a car. You can put two sets of tracks very close together because streetcars/trams/light rail will not swerve into the other lane due to operator error. Two dedicated bus lanes take up much more space than two sets of tracks. In Portugal and other European countries, streetcars and trams run on streets that are much narrower than anything we have in DC. Also, a set of tracks in the median of a major street or boulevard takes up about as much space and maybe even less space than a center turn lane.

At 5:12 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

very good point.

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just go to Georgetwon and you will see the old streetcar tracks on residential streets where they once operated- these are tiny streets- as tiny if not smaller than any in Portland. What gets me is that DC goes to all of this trouble to restore the tracks and they are not to be used. Why not just put all new tracks in there and a streetcar as well? Of course the NIMBYs would scream murder...also- the streetcars once rode on G street s.e. right by the JP Sousa house- good luck trying to get that historic right of way past the historic preservation people in charge of things today...


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