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
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.
Now that the funding situation for phase one of the streetcar system and above-ground construction is imminent, CityBeat has decided to look back upon the years of debate over the project and highlight its top ten misrepresentations.
Check out the full story from German Lopez to read his explanations about each one of the following points.
- Streetcar funds could have been used to save police and firefighter jobs.
- The project is way too expensive.
- The project’s problems come from outside sources.
- The streetcar hasn’t increased taxes.
- The streetcar won’t foster economic development.
- Buses are just as good as streetcars.
- The streetcar really doesn’t go far enough.
- Humans can outwalk the streetcar.
- The streetcar can’t go uphill.
- The streetcar will be full of scary black guys with guns.
You can also read the full feature story in the latest print edition of CityBeat, so head out to your nearest coffee shop and flip through a copy.
You can also learn more about what streetcars are and are not by reading through our information page, or by checking out the City of Cincinnati’s FAQ page. You could also submit questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll work to get the answers for you, if we don’t have them already.
It’s been a long and tumultuous path for us thus far, but it is almost all behind us now. It’s too bad there was so much misinformation spread along the way, but we certainly did our best to try to provide accurate information regarding the project.
Now, let’s get phase one running and start working on future phases to more of Cincinnati’s great neighborhoods!
Occasionally this blog receives emails from readers that mention why public transportation is important to them. Here is one we recently received:
I now live in a city and a country with excellent public transport systems. It has made me a BELIEVER in public transport and its way of enriching one’s life. WHY?
1. It makes the car unnecessary within the city (and often within my country). Our 7 year old car has been driven about 9,000 miles! We use public transport everywhere within the city and the country. This is a major contribution to the greening of the country.
2. I greatly encourages walking. We walk to all our daily activities within the city and occasionally use the tram or bus to get home if it rains. The encouragement to walk is a major health item! We are never far from public transport anywhere in the city so wherever we are, we can get home easily. In general, walking is quicker than using a car as finding legal parking often takes 10-15 minutes if we use our car!
3. For those of us who use the tram and RR regularly, we buy a pass, (good for 1,2 or three years) which gives us half price on all rail journeys and a reduced price on all trams and busses.
Although we are spoiled and lucky, the public transport system makes one a believer and is an important part of a healthy way of life. Another important factor, admittedly, is living in a foreign city, designed for pedestrians and not automobiles. Honestly, it is rare that we have to walk more than twenty minutes to go to every place essential to daily living – food, clothing, doctor, hospital, movies, club meetings, – you name it. It’s all within an easy walk. For us, whether working or retired, it is a huge benefit and more so if, as one ages, one can no longer drive a car. We are well situated for growing old (and/or crippled??). Public transport is an important factor in planning for our old age.
David M.-A former resident of Cincinnati