The Toronto Star recently reported that Streetcar tracks are a leading cause of downtown cycling crashes in Toronto. Railways tracks are also a serious concern for cyclists in the Region of Waterloo. Streetcar tracks can easily catch bike tire wheels. It will remain to be seen whether the design of the LRT tracks under construction in the Region will hold the same dangers for cyclists.
A study done by Ryerson University and UBC has determined that nearly a third of all serious bike crashes in downtown Toronto involved streetcar tracks. Bike wheels are either caught in the groove of the track or slide across the rail. The resulting falls for the cyclist involved hospitalization in many cases. It can be very difficult to get across multiple lanes of tracks on the roads particularly when the roads and rails are wet and slippery. Trying to get around the tracks also means that in intersections when cyclists are attempting to turn left the dangers can be particularly high.
It appears that construction of dedicated bike lanes which are separate from the rail systems would be a good measure. This would also allow cyclists their own right of way, separating them form streetcar rails, streetcar traffic, and cars/busses. This can only mean safer cycling for those brave enough to get out on a bike in downtown Toronto.
Experts are also promoting the use of wider tires on bikes in order to reduce the chance of getting caught in the flange way of the track. The head mechanic at Toronto’s Bikes on Wheels however, says that the tracks are wide enough to take in any tire, so really there is no good tire width choice.