According to DC leadership streetcars are coming. This means two things for cyclists. First, tracks
D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) officials announced last week that laying tracks for the planned 3.5-mile streetcar line, stretching from Union Station to Minnesota Avenue, will be included in a $43 million project that will rebuild the H Street-Benning Road roadbed. The project, currently in the design phase, is expected to be bid this spring for construction to commence in the fall.
Not just tracks at a 90 degree angle, but tracks you have to ride parallel to. Think P and O street in Georgetown. In any form they're an added danger for cyclists. There are things that can be done to alleviate the risk. Cyclists must demand that the street be designed to keep cyclists away from the tracks as much as possible. Here's how that went down in Portland.
In addition, so called "flange fillers" can be used to fill the gap and improve safety. Ernst Poulsen, editor of the Bicycle News Agency
We promoted a sollution[sic] used by the Danish Rail Roads in the city of Soenderborg in the southern part of Jutland. (The peninsula part of Denmark). Here the rail-track (flange) was filled with a rubber-material. This material was soft enough for a train-car to depress it because of the huge weight - where as cyclists would just feel a smooth surface and possibly a slight bump. But cyclists couldn't get caught by the rail-track when this flange filler was used.
And of course the other issue is making sure that the new streetcars will allow for bicycles on board as is true in Portland and other places.
I'm not against streetcars - though I know other cyclists who are. At least they can't swerve over and hit you like a bus. But cyclists concerns need to be addressed early on in this - not later.
(Photo of tram tracks bicycle warning in Nottingham, England)