bikes and streetcar

One-third of biking injuries in Toronto involve streetcar tracks, study finds

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 27th, 2016 at 1:54 pm

streetcar turn
Left turns from NW 9th Avenue onto Lovejoy Street toward the Broadway Bridge.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In the city with North America’s largest streetcar system, on-street rails almost rival automobiles as a factor in collisions that injure people on bikes.

That’s one major finding in the first academic study in North America dedicated specifically to the danger of streetcar tracks to people biking.

Among bike-related injuries in Toronto that resulted in emergency-room trips, the study found, 32 percent directly involved streetcar tracks and more than half happened on streets with streetcar tracks. And in what lead author Kay Teschke described as “a surprise to us,” 67 percent of track-related injuries happen away from intersections.


Woman dies after crashing near streetcar tracks in Seattle

by on May 25th, 2016 at 11:33 am

Screenshot from Capitol Hill Seattle.

Screenshot from Capitol Hill Seattle.

27-year old Seattle resident Desiree McCloud died yesterday from injuries she sustained from a crash on May 13th. According to reports she was biking with friends near streetcar tracks on E Yesler and 13th when she lost control and went down.

The incident highlights a major problem that has plagued both Seattle and Portland for years: Both cities have busy urban neighborhoods where streetcar tracks and unprotected bikeways mix and both cities have countless crash victims because of it. Track crashes are so rampant here in Portland that there’s an assumption among daily riders that it’s a matter of when not if you’ll go down on them.

Not only do these exposed tracks cause many broken bones and bodies every year, they are also just one more thing that scares some people away from cycling. (more…)

NW Portland has a problem with exposed rail tracks in the street

by on April 12th, 2016 at 2:47 pm

NW Portland Week day 2-34.jpg
Exposed rails on NW 12th Avenue near Irving.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Part of NW Portland Week.

Lawsuit filed against city for streetcar tracks deemed ‘unsafe for bicyclists’

by on May 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

NW Lovejoy streetcar-1
Track warning sign just a few yards from
where the crash happened.
(*Note that the sign wasn’t there in May 2012.)
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregonian reported last week that a Portland woman named Leslie Kay has filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland after she crashed her bicycle on streetcar tracks. She suffered a bad injury to her foot and is suing the City for $49,999. The incident happened back in May 2012 on NW Lovejoy just west of 13th (map).

According to The Oregonian, the lawsuit, “faults the city for the bicycle path’s design; for building streetcar rail lines that are “placed in a way that make them unsafe for bicyclist(s),” and for “creating a bicycle path design that did not look out for the safety of the bicyclist nor the pedestrians…”

With grant application, PBOT finally acknowledges ‘safety issue’ with streetcar tracks

by on April 14th, 2014 at 10:15 am

Crash on NW Lovejoy-3
Streetcar tracks have claimed many
victims over the years.
(Photos J. Maus/BikePortland)

After years of activism and untold amounts of carnage, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is finally making an attempt to address the dangers that streetcar tracks pose to people riding bicycles.

PBOT has filed a grant application with the Transportation Research Board that would give them $150,000 in funding to work with Portland Streetcar Inc. and Portland State University to identify best practices and improve the safety of cycling around streetcar tracks.

This is an issue we’ve covered for over seven years.

Streetcar-nage continues while other cities look for answers

by on September 25th, 2013 at 10:19 am

Conditions on Lovejoy-5
The view from NW Lovejoy.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

While Portlanders continue to suffer physical injuries and property damage due to falls on streetcar tracks and our local agencies put out safety videos and erect signs warning about the hazards, cities in Europe are actively trying to solve the problem. In the past few weeks we’ve come across word of new technology being tested in Zurich while at the same time hearing new first-hand accounts of the treacherous cycling conditions around the (relatively) new streetcar tracks on Northwest Lovejoy Street in Portland. (more…)

Will Portland Streetcar ever find a way to prevent bike-rail crashes?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 14th, 2013 at 5:21 pm

German product veloSTRAIL might offer promise
for safer urban rail crossings.
(Image from Strail.de.)

Twelve years after Portland Streetcar added its rails to city streets, it’s still a Portland rite of passage to crash your bike on its tracks — and it’s still a maddening problem for the handful of people trying to solve it.

“I just can’t believe that in a place like Amsterdam or any number of European cities where they have had girder rail — I can’t believe that somebody hasn’t figured this out,” Portland Streetcar consultant Carter MacNichol said in an interview Wednesday. “But apparently they haven’t.”

MacNichol, who occasionally researches the issue on his own time, said he’s currently hoping for an email reply from veloSTRAIL, a German company that makes plastic inserts for urban rail crossings designed to collapse beneath a streetcar wheel but not beneath a bike. But veloSTRAIL, he said, seems to be designed for T-shaped ballasted tracks — not the C-shaped girder rail used by Streetcar.


Portland Streetcar Inc. releases “When I Ride” safety video

by on September 20th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Still from “When I Ride” video.
– Watch it below-

With the big grand opening of the new eastside/central city loop extension of the streetcar being this weekend, Portland Streetcar Inc. (PSI) has just unveiled a new safety video.

The video features (and is narrated by) Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Advocacy Director Gerik Kranksy; but it doesn’t just focus on bicycling. Titled, “When I Ride,” the video is made for all road users, from skateboarders to walkers and even drivers.

Here’s more from a statement released by PSI: (more…)

Man badly hurt after losing control on NW Lovejoy ramp

by on September 13th, 2012 at 10:02 am

Crash on NW Lovejoy-3
First responders attend to the injured man,
while a concerned citizen looks on.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

This morning a man was taken away on a stretcher with serious injuries and numerous cuts and scrapes after he lost control while bicycling down the NW Lovejoy ramp.

A witness who was driving his car up the ramp, saw the spill and called 911. I happened to be biking by and rolled over to get a closer look and find out what happened. According to the witness, the man was riding down Lovejoy in the bike lane, then as he started moving to the left across the adjacent streetcar tracks, “he started wobbling and then face planted.”

I was unable to make a definite confirmation that the streetcar tracks caused the crash; but given what I know about riding in that area and what the witness described, it seems pretty clear that the tracks were a contributing factor. The man’s bike had skinny, road-bike style tires.

Photos and notes from my ride on the new streetcar line

by on September 6th, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Riding the new streetcar line-9
I got a new view of the Pearl District today from inside the yet-to-be-opened eastside streetcar line.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)