The jokes began soon after The Star printed a picture on Tuesday when a Kansas City streetcar collided with a parked Mercedes with Johnson County license plates near 20th and Main streets.
And the laughing — but also more serious comments — continued all day long on Twitter and Facebook posts about the first accident involving a streetcar in the city.
People made fun of Johnson County drivers, defended Johnson Countians, criticized the amount of money being spent on the 2.2-mile streetcar line, said they “weren’t coming downtown anymore,” and on and on.
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I get the potential hilarity of it, to a degree. But the incident renewed the problems this area and its motorists are going to have to deal with as the streetcar system gets ready for carrying passengers on May 6.
Fact is, two worlds are colliding with more regularity.
Motorists in cars, trucks and delivery vehicles are having to be more careful when parking and driving along Main Street and in the River Market area, trying to stay out of the way of the new public transit option in town.
People have been told time and time again to “park within the white line” so their vehicles will be out of the way of the streetcar, which obviously can’t swerve around those vehicles.
Meanwhile, streetcar operators are supposed to be learning how close they can come to those vehicles that are parked outside the white line without hitting them.
If vehicles refuse to obey the rules, the potential exists for the entire operation to bog down and passengers to be stopped dead in their tracks while waiting for the driver to move a car — or for a tow truck to show up.
But motorists need to know they can park on side streets without getting in the way of the streetcar. If people — including Johnson Countians — start to think it’s too much of a hassle to come downtown, that’s not going to help with the revival of the urban core.
As I have said before, we will get through this. The incident Tuesday should not be used to denigrate the potential of the streetcar line to continue with downtown’s economic redevelopment.
And the incident shouldn’t force motorists to avoid parking on Main Street.
Just follow the rules and keep the Mercedes and other vehicles — with and without Johnson County plates — inside the white line.