Cyclists and Trolley Tracks Don't Mix, as New Audi's Shattered Rear Window Can Attest

Categories: Transportation

StreetcarCrash.jpg
bikeportland.org
This morning, at a half hour past midnight, 20-year-old Benjamin Boyer was riding his bicycle south down Cole Street when his front tire slipped into the groove of the trolley track. He was thrown from his bike and, this being Dallas, he sailed straight into the back of a 2012 Audi.

Boyer had some cuts and bruises but wasn't seriously injured, which is remarkable considering the impact shattered the Audi's rear window and caused $1,500 worth of damage. Boyer was even kind enough to hang around until the cops showed up and give them his real name and contact info so the car's owner could get in touch.

Unless you've been in the saddle, it's hard to understand how easily a crash like this can occur. The same thing happened to me a few months ago, sans the flying-into-a-luxury-car part, thankfully, and I've had several other close calls. The experience is kind of like running through a forest at full speed only to discover the patch of leaves you stepped on is actually concealing a spike-filled pit.

Ride beside the tracks often enough, and you learn to avoid such calamities, but it's tough. Let your attention drift or turn across the tracks at an insufficiently sharp angle, and you'll find yourself on your ass, praying that you don't wind up beneath the wheels of a car behind you.

Other, more heavily biked cities have been grappling with the issue for years. It's a perennial topic of debate in San Francisco. In Toronto, where a streetcar-track crash killed a cyclist last year, some high-traffic rail crossings areequipped with rubber flanges that allow easy passage of bikes. Three years ago in Seattle, a half dozen cyclists sued the city for negligence after crashing on the same stretch of trolley tracks. The suit was ultimately dismissed.

Dallas has neither the volume of bikers nor the volume of streetcars to make this a serious concern. It's not serious enough, anyway, to justify going around and sticking rubber flanges in the tracks. But the numbers, both of cyclists and streetcars, are growing. As they do, expect more crashes like Boyer's.

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26 comments
ruddski
ruddski

I was once tripped and injured by an exposed root while walking near a designated walking path.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

I actually kind of like this.  The anti-automobile crowd's two biggest causes, streetcars and bicycles, at odds with each other.  Which one must go? the streetcar or the bicycle.

I do like the way you wrote the story to completely remove any responsibility from the cyclist.  His tire slipped into a crack, causing him to wreck?  How about: He wasn't paying attention to his surroundings, pulled a bone-head maneuver, and wound up causing some innocent resident car-owner significant financial damage.  ??

marvin
marvin

<i>his front tire slipped into the groove of the trolley track. He was thrown from his bike and, this being Dallas, he sailed straight into the back of a 2012 Audi.</i>

Am I missing something in the physics here?  If he was close enough, and fast enough to sail through the window, then the tracks don't matter.  If the tracks didn't stop his bike, the rear bumper would have, and he would have ended up on the back of the Audi anyway.

adkim
adkim

freakin' audis.  anytime something goes wrong with them it's always $1000+.  the only thing i miss about mine is the ability to outrun the other pissed off motorist that i flipped off while cutting them off.

Tim Evans
Tim Evans

Just watch where you're going. I'm sure curbs and potholes have claimed more cyclists than the trolley tracks. Shit does happen though. I've been over my handlebar more than once.

Stefani Maier Riggs
Stefani Maier Riggs

BTW - everyone in uptown knows tires will easily slip into the grooves of the trolley tracks - even on a car! DUH! someone is obviously a rookie to the neighborhood! lesson learned!

Stefani Maier Riggs
Stefani Maier Riggs

so THIS is what all the sirens were about last night outside my townhouse!

hilllbillle
hilllbillle

they make people in cars and motorcycles pay big brother for liability insurance. if bikes are gonna hit nice expensive cars....just sayin'...if i gotta pay that big brother shit, so should everybody else i gotta share the road with....

mcdallas
mcdallas

Thanks for today's edition of "Obscurity in Dallas"

Jason Harris
Jason Harris

I remember during Tour Of Dallas, probably half of the bike crashes or tire flats I saw were the result of Trolley and Dart Rail lines. The other half were from the crevices in our naturally shitty roads.

Tracy Fuller
Tracy Fuller

acting like they are in austin n shit lol

russp
russp

Used to have this same issue riding a motorcycle around Philly, the gaps along the streetcar tracks on the areas with cobblestone streets would get pretty wide and a tire could get caught in them. Just  keep some distance from them when running parallel and make sure to cross them at a pretty good angle. Haven't found an area in Dallas with the same problem with my motorcycle but obviously fatter tires than a bicycle.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

"Dallas has neither the volume of bikers nor the volume of streetcars to make this a serious concern. It's not serious enough anyway to justify going around and sticking rubber flanges in the tracks. But the numbers, both of cyclists and streetcars, are growing. As they do, expect more crashes like Boyer's."

Therefore, no action is currently necessary?

kduble
kduble

@MikeDunlap What does a streetcar do when the cyclist ahead is moving too slowly?

kduble
kduble

@marvin  The tracks mattered by causing the accident.

kduble
kduble

@Stefani Maier Riggs  Cars can't slip into a track groove!

kduble
kduble

@Jason Harris DART LRTVs aren't a problem, as they have designated right-of-way. The only places cyclists encounter LRT tracks are at grade crossing where they're crossed at a 90-degree angle. By contrast, streetcars share streets. That's where the problem is.

As for "crevices in our naturally shitty roads," look out for the northern edge of Griffin Street East at Wall.

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