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Are Streetcar Tracks an Accident Waiting to Happen for Cyclists?

There has been some controversy coming from the cyclists of Seattle that the streetcar tracks in the city are a “death trap” to city cyclists. Most notably of the story was the death of a young behavioral neuroscientist that was cycling through the city only to be launched from her bike due to the First Hill Streetcar tracks and killed as a result of her injuries.

Unfortunately, her death brought attention to the issue, but she was not the last cyclist injury to be reported from the city. While Seattle’s streetcar tracks are dangerous, they are not the first city to have both cyclists and streets cars. What makes the streetcar tracks in Seattle different from those in San Francisco, for example? The answer is attention to safety. In other cities with both streetcars and a booming cyclist population, the city has paid attention to implementing safety features for those that need to cross over the tracks. It seems this safety issue was an oversight in Seattle.

While cars in the city may be able to safely cross over these tracks, as well as pedestrians with the right amount of care, the gaps in the tracks are too wide for a bicycle to safely span with their thin tires. In most cases, with enough speed, many cyclists who use the bicycle lanes near these tracks can bridge the gap, but the issue comes with their wheels are turned just right amount. In most of the injury and fatality cases, the cyclist had to move to avoid an obstacle and their tire was angled just right to catch in the tracks.

While some cities have protection for cyclists and pedestrians in their streetcar tracks, Seattle cyclist still remain in danger. Have you been hurt while cycling by streetcar tracks, cars, or otherwise? Then contact us today to see what we can do for you.


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