One-third of bicycle crashes in downtown Toronto are linked to the city’s streetcar tracks and the best ways to minimize such incidents is to build more separated bike routes and dedicated rail rights of way, according to researchers from Toronto and British Columbia.
The study, published on Tuesday in the journal BMC Public Health, found streetcar or train tracks in urban areas pose significant injury risks to cyclists, especially when their wheels get caught.
“The vast majority resulted from the bike tire being caught in the rail flangeway (gap in the road surface alongside rails), often when cyclists made unplanned maneuvers to avoid a collision,” the study states.
However, there were no reported track crashes where streetcars and trains had dedicated rights of way.
The study looked at 276 injured cyclists that required hospitalization from May 2008 and November 2009. Of those, 32 per cent of them directly involved tracks.
The authors of the study say further infrastructure measures such as dedicated cycle lanes and protected intersections would help prevent most of the track-involved injuries.
“We always want to focus on what can we do about the environment because that can protect everybody regardless of their training and of their maneuverability,” said study co-author Anne Harris.