How to Properly Cross Rail Tracks on your Bike
Unfortunately, it's something I've seen even the most experienced cyclist do: wipe out while crossing a set of train tracks. As many of you know, you need to maneuver your bike's angle of approach so that you hit the rails as perpendicular as possible. But even knowing that, some demon riders don't slow enough to sashay properly, and heck: poor newbies have no idea how the road's mathematics work until it's too late!
In Seattle, they are trying something I have never seen before that goes beyond the usual warning signage: the DOT is using "sharrows" and markings to visually guide cyclists in the art of making some of these crossings. Anecdotally, it seems to work well. I found it reassuring that my path was predetermined as I approached instead of having to guesstimate. Stay within the lines - and all will be good.
But as John Mauro from the Cascade Bicycle Club points out, this is only an interim solution. This is the missing link in the famous Burke-Gilman greenway, and families out cycling for the day shouldn't have to contend with dangerous sets of tracks in the first place. Still, it is nice to see DOT's all across the country are getting creative and using cost effective solutions (just a few marks with paint) to keep us a little safer.
[0:11] I'm John Mauro, and I'm the commute director for the Cascade Bicycle Club. And Streetfilms was out exploring the city of Seattle, and they came across the tracks on the missing link of the Burke-Gilman Trail, which has been a big problem spot for cyclists for several years. It's something that people have been struggling with, and we've actually heard probably four or five dozen crashes right there due to those tracks. [0:36] The long-term is to actually replace that section of trail. And of course, we're working to make sure that that link is completed. But in the interim, instead of rerouting, paving a trail, ripping up the tracks, the Seattle Department of Transportation's taken a pedal-by-pedal approach to getting people across the tracks, by taking sharrows and marking, every couple of feet, the cyclists' path into the lane, taking a lane, like a cyclist should, and then crossing at a 90-degree angle.