We've talked about it here ever since the insanity of sticking rail tracks in roadways got underway: on the one hand, politicians want to encourage bike-riding - and on the other, they build in death-traps that injure and in some cases kill cyclists when their bike wheels get stuck in the track-wells.
A witness told police that her tire had become caught in the streetcar tracks. Riesland believes her tires slipped on the wet tracks’ surface.
“I’m an experienced biker, so I know you go across them at 90 degrees,” she said.
Riesland suffered a skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury. For five days she was in the hospital. For nine months she attended therapy sessions.
Although the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT)’s design for streetcar tracks has evolved to better tolerate bikes, cyclists say the tracks are a danger that often ensnares members of their flock.
Some question whether tracks and tires can coexist, particularly after a woman died after falling near the tracks on East Yesler Way.
Other cities have struggled with bikes and tracks. A study of serious cycling wrecks in Toronto, which has the most extensive streetcar network in North America, found that 32 percent of cyclists in the study had wrecked on rail.
“On streets with streetcar tracks, there was threefold higher risk of being in a crash and ending up with an injury in the emergency department,” said University of British Columbia researcher Kay Teschke.
Teschke said that 85 percent of streetcar-related wrecks were caused by a cyclist’s wheel being caught in the flangeway gap, the space in the track that holds the wheels to the rail.
As has been discussed here many times in recent years, light rail lines and streetcars have no place on today's roads, and it is simply irresponsible for politicians and planners to place them there because they think it looks cool. When Toronto has nearly a third of its cyclists wrecking on rails, people elsewhere should be paying attention, and they aren't. That's a big problem, and they're ignoring it.
I'm not a member of the Spandex crowd, but even I can see how dangerously stupid it is to lay tracks down a road. Encouraging people to ride bicycles - as they do - simply increases the odds of injury or death. And while they don't keep statistics on the number of pedestrians who slip or trip, it's a safe bet that those have rocketed up as well. How many walkers used by old folks end up caught in flangeways? Nobody can say.
So what the politicians and planners are doing is this: "Let's make the city a walkable, bikeable, village-like neighborhood - and then build in obstacles!"