Cyclists concerned over streetcar tracks in El Paso

Cyclists concerned over streetcar tracks in El Paso (Source: KFOX14)

Cyclists tell KFOX14 they're concerned about riding near and around the streetcar tracks around west and downtown El Paso.

Scott White, with Velo Paso Bicycle Coalition, said he's taken three falls because of the tracks.

"Streetcar tracks and bikes don't get along," White said. "The tracks are designed to accommodate the special wheels of the streetcars and that means they have to have a groove. That groove just happens to be the same width of most bike tires."

White said it's easy for riders to get sucked into the tracks. He knows of about a dozen other cyclists who have also fallen because of the tracks.

"Unfortunately the odds are probably somebody's going to get seriously hurt," he said.

The head mechanic at The Bicycle Company said they see at least two people coming in for repairs every week because of falling on the tracks.

"It's mainly wheel damage and elbows and knees from people taking diggers," Ruben Valenzuela said.

It can be costly to repair.

"Normally from a new wheel to just an inner tube replacement could be about $50-$70 if you need two wheels," Valenzuela said.

He expects more people to have damage to their bikes because of UTEP students being back in school.

White said downtown is especially dangerous because there are no bike lanes like those on Stanton. He said bikers either take the sidewalk, the lane with the streetcar tracks or even against traffic.

"You see the people riding downtown, you see them riding kind of anywhere they feel safe," White said.

KFOX14 asked the city of El Paso if there are any plans to create bike lanes downtown or what it recommends to cyclists in that area. In a statement, the city said, "The Streets and Maintenance Department recognizes the importance of a Downtown Bicycle Network. The Downtown Bicycle Facilities section of the Bike Plan includes proposed facilities along El Paso, Oregon, Stanton, Campbell, and St Vrain on a North/South direction; and Missouri, Main, Mills, Myrtle, San Antonio, and Paisano on East/West direction, among other streets. These projects are currently unfunded. The City of El Paso is working with the El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization in order to secure federal funding to assist with the implementation of the Downtown Bicycle Facilities Network.

The City of El Paso offers the following tips, and reminds cyclists to exercise extra caution when riding alongside the Streetcar tracks:

Never ride between the track

Cross tracks as close to 90 degrees as possible

Do not lean into turns when crossing tracks

Wet tracks = slippery tracks. Use extra caution when crossing

Choose an alternate route away from tracks whenever possible"

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