This month’s safety tip comes from viewing the terrifying video Ron Dell’Aquila sent recently to WWBC. It shows over 50 cyclists crashing while crossing railroad tracks. Several of the cyclists look to be quite seriously hurt.
Crossing a railroad track at a shallow angle runs the risk of your wheel catching on the metal rail or the gaps next to it. The danger is much greater when the tracks are wet, or while breaking during the crossing. The simple key conclusion from the study associated with the video is that the crash rate is dramatically reduced when the crossing angle is greater than 30º, and is eliminated at greater than 60º.
There are a couple of skewed track crossings that are in my common riding area. One is North bound on Winchester Blvd near 85 in Los Altos, the other is when the tracks cross Cox Ave. The key is to turn away from the tracks in advance, then veer back toward the tracks to cross them at a greater angle. Of course, if either turn puts you into the lane of traffic, you’ll need to make sure it is safe to do so.
If you know of other dangerous train track crossings, please comment on this safety tip.