If you’re a frequent cyclist and live Toronto, then you already know that the streetcar tracks are pretty much your worst enemy.
Of course, many cyclists find this out the hard way.
A new study from researchers in British Columbia and Toronto exposes just how hazardous the tracks are to your physical health.
Research from Ryerson University and the University of British Columbia found that a third of all serious bike crashes that occur in downtown Toronto were caused by streetcar tracks.
A total of 87 of these crashes were the result of the cyclists’ tires either becoming stuck in the tracks or skidding across them.
Published last week in the journal BMC Public Health, the study looked at 276 bike crashes that happened in Toronto’s downtown core between May 2008 and November 2009 that were serious enough to require hospital visits.
The crashes happened most often on streets that contained parked cars and had no bike lanes.
The study found that 56 per cent of collisions involving streetcar tracks happened on major streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure. This is compared to 29 per cent on major streets with no parked cars and no bike infrastructure. Only 8 per cent of crashes occurred on streets with painted bike lanes.
That’s why designated bike lanes are so important.
“Cyclists who are injured on these tracks reported circumstances like having to maneuver around other road users,” said Anne Harris, one of the study’s co-authors, according to CBC. As a result, bike riders can get caught in the tracks’ flangeways (aka the openings through which streetcars roll through the tracks).
In particular, the study found that cyclists turning left were at a high risk of streetcar track-related accidents.
The good news is that Toronto is becoming a more bike-friendly city all the time, whether with the doubling of public bikes this summer, an increase in bike lanes and innovative startups like this one to prevent bike accidents.
In the meantime, you may want to stick to streetcar-free roads.