tram track = first serious cycling accident

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby NewieComuter » Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:43 pm

A couple of weeks ago I had my first serious cycling accident.

I was traveling down Spencer st, Melbourne and there was a slow moving cyclist on a cell phone in front of me. I decided it would be ok to cross a tram track, I.e. parallel to the direction I was travelling, to over take the slow cyclist as another cyclist had just done this. There were no trams or cars nearby and it was dry. I gave the approach to the track a decent angle and crossed over just fine. However when crossing back something happened, I am not sure what exactly, I think my front tire made if over ok, but then I remember the sound of sand scrapping (against metal ?) and I went over my handle bars.

I have been commuting for 4 years without incident till now, however I am new to Melbourne and tram tracks. Many cyclists seem to casually cross the tracks here, so whilst I knew they were dangerous I didn't know how dangerous. I though I had approached with a big enough angle....

Anyway, I have read a few tram track related fall stories on these forums but they were generally not as serious a mine, so I thought I would share. I managed to dislocate and fracture my shoulder. I went into surgery the day after the accident where the installed three screws into my shoulder before putting back in place. Recovery is 6 weeks in a sling. Two weeks in, my right shoulder is still useless.

No doubt an experienced local wouldn't have had this accident, but who knows....

Tram tracks are nasty!
NewieComuter
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:48 am

by BNA » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:57 am

BNA
 

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby Summernight » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:57 am

NewieComuter wrote:No doubt an experienced local wouldn't have had this accident, but who knows....

Tram tracks are nasty!


They probably would if they weren't concentrating. Tram tracks are very nasty for bikes.

Heal well!
User avatar
Summernight
 
Posts: 1504
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:40 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby clackers » Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:05 am

NewieComuter wrote:
No doubt an experienced local wouldn't have had this accident, but who knows....


Going back across the track has to be at a wide angle, too!

Hope everything works out in the end.
User avatar
clackers
 
Posts: 1914
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 10:48 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby Mulger bill » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:05 am

Damn, heal well and quickly Newie.

Apart from getting a good angle, one thing that has worked so far for me (touch wood) is to lift the front wheel very slightly as it's about to cross the line. Naurally it's not gospel and depends on the situation but IMO it's the front wheel losing it that puts you down.

Shaun
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
User avatar
Mulger bill
Super Mod
Super Mod
 
Posts: 25538
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 2:41 pm
Location: Sunbury Vic

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby Calvin27 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:26 am

I am petrified of them after witnessing a few instances.

I've only every been 'stuck' once - thankfully it was a slow mo clipstack and not going at speed.

My approach now is to cut hard on the entry, and shift weight . Start with weight at rear (as the front crosses over) then shift weight to the front to allow the rear to cross - most times just taking some pressure off the tyres is enough not to get bogged in the tracks. Make sure your rear wheel has passed the tracks before you correct to a straight line - this is what gets most people I think.

I also occasionally will do a bunny hop. People usually look at me funny when I do that as most roadies will freak out at the thought of any impact on their one-spoked 10g carbon wheels. I say let the bike serve me not me serve the bike! besides, if it breaks, I can buy a new set of wheels and explain to the new set what a failure the last ones were!
Specialized Secteur Expert
Kona Hei Hei DL
Calvin27
 
Posts: 395
Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2013 4:45 pm

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby human909 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:06 pm

Tram tracks can bite hard the second you are at all complacent.

I would consider myself an experienced local. I regularly ride in between them and cross over them often. However I have gotten caught once when I was a little careless. I wrenched the rear wheel out of the track without crashing but I ended up damaging the cup in the hub. A few months later the cup sheared off completely and the wheel was toast.
human909
 
Posts: 4719
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:48 am

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby il padrone » Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:12 pm

Mulger bill wrote:Damn, heal well and quickly Newie.

Apart from getting a good angle, one thing that has worked so far for me (touch wood) is to lift the front wheel very slightly as it's about to cross the line. Naurally it's not gospel and depends on the situation but IMO it's the front wheel losing it that puts you down.

Yes. This is what works for me.

I hardly ever ride near tram tracks, but have done a fair bit in the past. Treat them like a log-hop on a MTB. Stay away from them and aware at all times. 40-50cms is fine as long as you can maintain straight-line riding. If you do need to cross them, do a flick to place your front wheel at a wider angle, but at the same time, do a gentle, 'bunny-hop' style, unweighting of both your wheels (jump your body up a little) and flick your bike sideways. Thus lifts your wheels across and avoids:
1. tyre contact with slippery, often wet, steel,
2. the tyre descending into the slot.

Both of these are the nasty bits about tram tracks. Also at intersections that have multiple tracks be very aware and try to ensure you cross as close to 90 degrees as possible.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 18139
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby cyclotaur » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:21 pm

The old W class trams used to (still do..?) use sand to aid braking and it ends up on the tracks. Unfortunately this makes even a dry crossing of tracks problematic. Extra care required where the City Circle Tourist Tram travels runs ...


Sent from my iPhinger ...
Here's my blog - A bit of fun :)
"Riding not racing...."
User avatar
cyclotaur
 
Posts: 707
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2011 12:36 pm

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby Toyopet » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:07 pm

Sorry to hear of your misfortune Newie. That’s one of the worst outcomes I've heard of for tram track crashes. Although there was one rider who went down on Swan St Richmond last year and lost a leg after a truck went over him – not sure if the tram track was involved though.

I regularly ride across tram tracks at bad locations where the tram turns around the corner. Burwood Rd/Power St Hawthorn, Swan St/Church St Richmond, High St/Cotham Rd Kew. Crossing them at a slight angle is almost unavoidable. On 23mm tyres it can be scary, especially in the wet. I always lift the front wheel when crossing. But I have got the back wheel caught a few times outbound at Kew. Probably because it’s uphill and I still had too much weight on the back wheel after the front wheel went across. Managed to escape every time so far without wheel or tyre damage.
User avatar
Toyopet
 
Posts: 60
Joined: Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:43 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby gabrielle260 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:27 pm

I'm a local and I've had 2 falls due to tram tracks so don't think it is necessarily because you are new to them.
No matter how often I ride roads with tram tracks I am super careful and hope I always will be!
Best wishes for your recovery.... Shoulders are painful and the rehab is tough... Good luck!
Andrew
gabrielle260
 
Posts: 687
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:47 pm

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby RonK » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:37 am

Crashing on tracks has potentially far more serious consequences than many would realise. Be very careful...
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
User avatar
RonK
 
Posts: 5211
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Location: Brisbane, Queensland

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby Summernight » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:54 am

cyclotaur wrote:The old W class trams used to (still do..?) use sand to aid braking and it ends up on the tracks. Unfortunately this makes even a dry crossing of tracks problematic. Extra care required where the City Circle Tourist Tram travels runs ..


Pretty sure all trams use sand (modern and the older ones)... The second or third newest tram model (the one before the Melbourne made one that they are currently spruiking and prior to the 'bee' model) has the sand in a part of the sidewall near the front and as a passenger you can see the sand level through the perspex on the wall. I used to wonder why they had a sand 'artwork' in a tram. :P
User avatar
Summernight
 
Posts: 1504
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:40 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby DavidS » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:20 pm

Tram tracks are the only thing to cause me to fall off a bike in 20 years. They are problematic and you have to be careful and have to really make sure the angle is sufficient to avoid getting the wheel caught. This can happen even when you have ridden in Melbourne for 40 years.

All trams drop sand. If you have ever tried to stop 50 tonnes with metal wheels and metal tracks you will know why. The other thing about the sand is that they will drop sand when the track is slippery but not wet, for example pine needles on Lygon St near the cemetery and Dandenong Rd in autumn. Any tram, apart from a W class, will automatically drop sand when emergency brakes are applied. In the W it is all manual.

DS
Image

Riding: Cannondale Quick Speed 2
User avatar
DavidS
 
Posts: 1305
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 11:24 pm
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby human909 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:44 pm

If you are alert when doing so I've found that tracks can be crossed at quite narrow angles as little as 20degrees. Just the other day I was riding along side tram tracks and then crossed from left to right while still riding down the road. And all I did was 4 well timed flicks as I passed each rail.

But yes if you riding alongside them and you cross while not deliberately dealing with then its a big danger.
human909
 
Posts: 4719
Joined: Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:48 am

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby jules21 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:19 pm

the front wheel bunny hop works, but there is a risk of catching or sliding the rear wheel - if you don't lift enough weight off the rear. the latter requires slightly more skill and confidence.

what i tend to do on my roadie is whip the bike across them - shift my body weight (centre of gravity) over the tracks, while not changing the trajectory of my bike, then whipping the bike across - bringing it back into line with my CoG.

the whipping action is done with no change in CoG and therefore no lateral load on the tyres. this - in combination with the short period of time that the tyres engage with the steel tracks as they are whipped across - guarantees* that you will not slide out.

* there are no guarantees in life, but it's a reliable technique. maybe not so much in the wet though.
Image
User avatar
jules21
 
Posts: 8533
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2009 10:14 pm
Location: deep in the pain cave

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:52 pm

Tram tracks oh yeah they bring you down real hard and quick. :(

My first Junior road race had Cane Tram Lines every were in one stage and they got between 20 and 28 riders all up. :shock:

Foo
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Goal 6000km
Image
User avatar
foo on patrol
 
Posts: 4309
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:12 am
Location: Sanstone Point QLD

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby RonK » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:13 pm

foo on patrol wrote:Tram tracks oh yeah they bring you down real hard and quick. :(

My first Junior road race had Cane Tram Lines every were in one stage and they got between 20 and 28 riders all up. :shock:

Foo

Yeah, almost as bad as pick-a-plank bridges... :(
Image
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...
User avatar
RonK
 
Posts: 5211
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Location: Brisbane, Queensland

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby foo on patrol » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:03 pm

Yes very true Ronk, I've ridden over a few of those also. :lol:

Foo
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Goal 6000km
Image
User avatar
foo on patrol
 
Posts: 4309
Joined: Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:12 am
Location: Sanstone Point QLD

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby il padrone » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:43 pm

jules21 wrote:what i tend to do on my roadie is whip the bike across them - shift my body weight (centre of gravity) over the tracks, while not changing the trajectory of my bike, then whipping the bike across - bringing it back into line with my CoG.

+1

Yes, the 'flick and whip' technique that I described above. It takes a little practice and good confidence but does work.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 18139
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby trailgumby » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:28 pm

There are a couple of those bridges along the Great North Rd Wisemans Ferry. I was glad to have fat tyres that day.



Sent from my android thingy using Crapatalk
"People have a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Evidence must be located, not created, and opinions not backed by evidence cannot be given much weight." -- James W Loewen

http://www.facebook.com/Drive2WorkDay
User avatar
trailgumby
 
Posts: 10195
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:30 pm
Location: Northern Beaches, Sydney

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby pacra » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:41 pm

Two nasty sets of tram tracks to cross are both in Caulfield.

Normanby Rd where the tram turns into Balaclava. Almost impossible to cross at greater than 30 degrees. Combined with a dip between the tracks. In the wet, absolutely diabolical. I have donated skin at that intersection.

A kilometre away, the grand union at Hawthorn and Balaclava. Crossing the intersection in any direction you go over four sets of tracks, two of which are turning tracks at an oblique angle. Dynamite in the wet.
pacra
 
Posts: 84
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:13 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby il padrone » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:47 pm

Fun and games riding past the Kew tram depot :shock: :twisted:

Image
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
User avatar
il padrone
 
Posts: 18139
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:57 pm
Location: Heading for home.

Re: tram track = first serious cycling accident

Postby phineas » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:30 pm

Wow tram tracks sound positively scary.

If I ever ride down in Melbourne I think I'll be getting off and walking my bike across :o


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free
phineas
 
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2013 8:24 pm


Return to Cycling Safety and Advocacy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users



Popular Bike Shops
Torpedo 7 Torpedo7 AU
Ground Effect Ground Effect NZ
Chain Reaction Cycles CRC UK
Wiggle Wiggle UK
Ebay Ebay AU



InTouch with BNA
“Bicycles BNA Twitter
“Bicycles BNA Facebook
“Google+ BNA Google+
“Bicycles BNA Newsletter