Crossing streetcar tracks: some tips on a tricky manoeuvre

Streetcar tracks are tricky and someone can get injured (or worse as in the case of yesterday's crash) if someone gets their wheels stuck in them. NOW Toronto covered the potential danger of streetcar tracks last week. But I'd like to just provide some basics of how you can deal with them better. It's making the best of a bad situation.

The key guideline is taking them as close to 90 degrees (at right angles) as possible so as to minimize the chance that your front wheel gets caught.

It's more difficult when you're riding alongside the streetcar tracks and need to cross them. Often it's because the right lane is blocked or the cyclist is trying to turn left. I will even turn a little away from the tracks first and then I can make a sharper turn across them. Make sure you slow down, signal and shoulder check first.

Or you can make an indirect left turn and avoid the stressful situations where you'd be trying to cross the tracks and watch out for fast cars behind you and coming towards you. It allows you to cross tracks at closer to 90.

Practice on a quieter street if you're uncomfortable. Toronto will have streetcars for a long time so it's best to focus both on education as well as on improvements to make them safer.

Lack of safety for cyclists as fixing Queen Street is started

Queen Street may be starting to get its own well-deserved fix-up starting with the sidewalks west of Dufferin, yet it looks like cyclists will have to put up with passing dangerously past construction sites. The photo above by Hamish Wilson shows the typical Toronto construction site with barriers set up to force cyclists into the middle of the streetcar tracks. When they do consider the safety of cyclists, construction companies will illegally place signs that tell cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes. Note how the cyclists above have chosen to actually bike within the construction site where they are able.

In Hamish's own words:

It's truly delightful that some of the roughest road in core TO may finally be getting fixed up, starting with the north-side sidewalks on Queen St. W., west of Dufferin.

But once again, there's a lack of signage and a distinct lack of safety for cyclists, especially with the streetcar tracks.

The use of barricading fencing does delineate, but it seems that it's only as far out as it is for a construction vehicle which is only used for a bit, and surely there might be narrower loaders etc. to help haul the tonnage out, although there is need for room for the pedestrians/public that's true, when the materials are being moved. But the effect of the taking of the absolutely fullest extent of the lane to the edge of the streetcar track concrete is to put cyclists into tight spaces with streetcar track hazards, or to help them feel they can squeeze themselves onto sidewalks or between cars.

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