The last time we checked in on the Milwaukee streetcar (give us a few more weeks before we finally call it “The Hop”), people were taking pictures of the thing. But a lot has changed since then—for one, it’s alive! Well, it’s test running, anyway. Here’s footage of the streetcar prowling around in the middle of Monday night like some kind of ghost vehicle sent to steal your soul and/or drop you off in front of the Public Market for lunch:
Creepy! Even creepier: the 16 (!) simple but somewhat worrying “tips” for living with the streetcar. Sixteen!
On Tuesday, The Hop (sigh) launched “HopSmart,” an initiative aimed at educating motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians on how to deal with the streetcar, its tracks, and its deadly, deadly wires. “We know Milwaukeeans are eager to get a closer look at this new, modern transportation option,” the HopSmart site says. “That’s why we’re here with a few tips to help you HopSmart during this period of on-track testing.”
Here are those tips, in full. We’ve added emphasis on the kinda crazy ones that make The Hop seem less like a tourist-friendly bus on rails and more like a potential serial killer.
Tips for Motorists
The Hop streetcars share the road with other vehicles, and streetcar operators navigate the route just like any other car, truck or bus. They obey the same traffic rules and right of way. But, streetcars are obviously bigger than other vehicles on the road, so it’s important to be patient and leave a safe space between your vehicle and the streetcar.
• When sharing a lane with a streetcar, be prepared to stop.
• If you’re driving in front of a streetcar, avoid braking suddenly unless there’s an emergency.
• Never make a right turn in front of a streetcar, and when turning left, always be on the lookout for streetcars as well as vehicles approaching from the opposite direction.
• When parking along the streetcar route, make sure your entire vehicle, including side mirrors, is completely inside the striping on the road. And be careful before opening your doors.
• Never park your vehicle on the tracks, even temporarily.
• Streetcars are fairly quiet, so be sure to check your mirrors and be aware of your surroundings when driving on the streetcar route.
Tips for Cyclists
Bicyclists are sharing roads with streetcars all across the country, but there are a few important tips to help make everyone’s journey more enjoyable.
• Track grooves are slightly wider than a typical bike tire, meaning bikes can potentially get stuck in the track way. Always avoid riding between the rails, where it can be difficult to maneuver in the tight space.
• When crossing the tracks, always do so in as close to a 90-degree angle as possible, and ride in an upright position as opposed to leaning into the turn.
• When making a left turn across streetcar tracks, do so in two stages. First, cross in the right lane through the intersection. Second, pivot to the left to cross the tracks perpendicularly at the next traffic signal.
• Streetcar tracks can become slippery when wet, so always exercise caution when biking near the tracks in rainy or snowy weather.
• Much of the streetcar route includes clearly-marked bike lanes, but an alternative route is typically only a block away for less comfortable cyclists.
Tips for Pedestrians
Pedestrians should be alert when walking along any city street, but especially so when on the streetcar route.
• Only cross streetcar tracks at designated crosswalks, and always wait for the appropriate signals.
• Never cross or run in front of an approaching streetcar, and never enter the trackway from between two parked vehicles.
• Streetcars are fairly quiet, so both LOOK and LISTEN before crossing the route.
• When walking along the streetcar route, take a break from your electronic devices. Remove your headphones so you can hear the streetcar’s warning bells, and don’t walk and text when crossing streetcar routes.
• Don’t climb poles or touch downed wires near the streetcar track. Always assume that all overhead power lines for the streetcar are hot.
The streetcar will be fully operational this fall. You’ve been warned.