Recently WCPO Channel 9 aired an I-Team investigation entitled “Streetcar will cause accidents & deaths”; a scare story to rack up ratings for February Sweeps. Viewers immediately took to social media to express their outrage of the biased and irresponsible journalism that Cincinnati’s Streetcar project has been subject to for almost 7 years. Referencing incidents with Houston’s MetroRail and the TriMet Light Rail in Portland, Oregon, the four minute exposé misled viewers to believe that streetcars were responsible for traffic collisions and subsequent deaths. Accident numbers overshadowed the facts, which is that motorists and pedestrians were at fault for 96% of all streetcar related incidents. In short, that means that people who failed to yield caused collisions with the streetcar.
Unfortunately, the way WCPO presented their story made it sound like the mere existence of rail in a city was an imminent death trap for citizens. They even produced a fear-mongering chart to list out all the death statistics, which totaled around 300 nationwide over the past 20 years, or 15 annual fatalities.
Here’s how streetcar related incidents compare to other accidents:
Streetcars Are Safer Than…
Snowplows – Ohio State Transportation officials have recorded 80 crashes in the 2013-14 winter
Cows – Cattle kill 22 humans a year
Vending Machines – 38 deaths by people rocking/tilting the machine
Lightning – 23 deaths in 2013
Televisions – 41 fatalities due to TVs falling over in 2012
Helicopters – 420 deaths in 2012, which means you’re 28 times more likely to be killed by Chopper 9, WCPO’s news helicopter, than by the Cincinnati Streetcar
As streetcar construction nears Government Square, utility relocation and renewal will close the bus hub from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., starting Tuesday, February 25. This construction is expected to take several days.
All Metro routes currently served at the stops A, B and C (Rts. 11, 33, 17, 19, 24, 46, 43) will be moved to Area E on Fifth Street. Signs will notify Metro riders of pick up and drop off locations. Metro will have extra employees stationed at Government Square to help riders and a police officer will direct traffic during the construction.
Located on Fifth Street between Walnut and Main Streets, Government Square is Metro’s largest transit hub. More than 15,000 people use Government Square each weekday.
In their monthly newsletter, Downtown Residents Council once again spoke out in support of the streetcar with the following proclamation:
Adopted September 11, 2007 without dissent, again in 2009 without dissent, and on December 10, 2013 with 90.4% voting in favor.
Be it therefore resolved:
The members of the Downtown Residents Council (DRC) support the implementation of a streetcar system for the urban core. We believe a fixed rail transportation network will enhance the experience of visiting, living and working in the core of our city. Other cities implementing streetcar systems have seen good to great returns on their investment through new construction, new jobs, new business opportunities, enhanced quality of life and a cleaner city environment due to lessened automobile traffic.
The DRC urges the City Council to support a program aimed at installing a fixed rail streetcar system within the boundaries of the Central Business District and Over the Rhine, which could possibly be expanded to the inner ring suburbs. Our members would greatly appreciate the ability to travel short distances from home and work on our lunch breaks, nights out, while running errands, shopping and entertaining friends. More transportation options will make it easier for modern families to live in the urban core by possibly removing the necessity of having multiple automobiles for personal mobility. This transportation option would also make the city more visitor-friendly by linking the many diverse shopping, dinning, entertainment, cultural and historic locations scattered throughout the valley.
Yesterday, Cincinnati City Council voted to restart streetcar construction after a three week pause to audit the project. Here’s what’s coming up over the next two weeks:
Thursday, Dec. 26
- Rail delivery on Elm Street (Findlay to McMicken). Elm Street will be closed from 11am-4pm.
Friday, Dec. 27 & Saturday, Dec. 28
- Rail installation resumes north of Findlay Market
Monday, Dec. 30
- Rebar installation resumes on Elm Street, north of Findlay Market.
- Building wood forms for trackwork resumes north of Findlay Market, with concrete placement expected Jan. 2-3.
- Work resumes on traffic signals and poles for overhead power.
- Water main work resumes on Walnut & Main streets.
Thursday, Jan. 2
- Excavation for trackwork resumes at Findlay & Elm streets.