Wednesday night in the 1600 block of Main Street, several cars could have been ticketed for failing to park within the white line that runs parallel to the rails for Kansas City’s soon to be active downtown streetcar.
Even worse, those cars could have been damaged if streetcars had been operating on the 2.2 miles of track running from the River Market to Union Station. A parked Mercedes certainly was about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at 20th and Main streets.
Streetcars aren’t at all like buses. They can’t maneuver around drivers who do stupid things like wander into the path of the streetcar or park so that the vehicle — even by a fraction of an inch — is in the way of the mass transportation machine.
The damage to the Mercedes was the first wreck since the streetcar tests started in early November. And wouldn’t you know that the Mercedes had Johnson County license plates? No injuries were reported, and the streetcar sustained only minor damage.
But the crash occurred despite repeated warnings from the city of cars being ticketed and towed if they fail to park properly along the streetcar route. The haphazardly parked cars on Wednesday night on Main Street would have been OK on just about any other street.
But the streetcar now forces people to ramp up their parallel parking skills, and then check after they stop the vehicle to make sure the auto is well-inside those carefully drawn white lines. They aren’t painted in the street for decoration!
There are, however, some reliable alternatives — particularly for suburban dwellers who flunked the parallel parking tests when they got their driver’s licenses and never thought they’d have to rely on those skills because of the all-too-easy, off-street garages and pull-in spaces in parking lots everywhere.
One solution is for people to trade in those older-model cars for the newer models that have self-parking features. That way they won’t have to worry whether their skills are sharp enough to pass the streetcar parking test.
A second solution is to do that very-uncommon-Kansas-City thing of parking legally on any street where the streetcar tracks don’t exist and walk, yes, walk to the downtown, Crossroads or River Market destination.
I know. You’ve got to be kidding, right? Actually no. Get in shape walking now because the streetcars are expected to be rolling on May 6, picking up and dropping off passengers.
That is soooo un-Kansas City-like, too.