Friday, June 27, 2008

Back on track

I don't know who had the idea or made it happen, but they deserve praise.

This week the streetcars returned to Carrollton Avenue. For the first time since Hurricane Katrina tried to drown New Orleans, you can ride a streetcar from Claiborne Avenue to Canal Street via the world famous St. Charles Avenue streetcar line.

Signs placed along Carrollton Avenue warn drivers to be on the lookout for the return of streetcars in New Orleans.

And somebody had the wisdom and forethought to put up these signs.

Automobiles cross paths with the streetcars at each of dozens of cross streets cutting across the neutral ground. After an absence just shy of three years, automobile drivers have likely fallen out of the habit of looking out for the streetcars. Hopefully these signs will remind drivers to be on the lookout.

This is positive and proactive and I like it.

Compare this to the stoplight camera scheme.

In the past few months the City of New Orleans and its neighbor in Metairie both installed cameras at intersections to catch drivers crossing through red lights. The goal, government officials said, is to improve public safety. Additional revenue brought by fines, government officials said, is just coincidental to the plan.

But what are the rules about crossing under a yellow light? Is anyone really sure? Ask any two drivers about traffic light rules and you'll get three different answers about what is legal and illegal when it comes to yellow and red lights. Where is the effort to educate the driving public of what is safe and unsafe? Where is the public education on the correct rules for traffic lights?

Apparently, nobody thought it necessary to provide information. They just put up cameras and started mailing invoices. The plan, it seems, is that once a driver is forced to write a check, he'll learn.

This is why I was so pleased with the "Back on Track" signs. They inform and educate in order to promote safety, and that is the way it should be.

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