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  1. #1
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Streetcars are not bicycle friendly.

    At 6:30 my wife wakes me up, she wants to go to a restaurant kinda mid-town for breakfast, by bicycle, so we load up and go, she wanted to get a couple of things for her bike, so I suggested MEC at King and Spadina. Since we were on Spadina already, and it was only about 4km.

    We got a mirror for her bike, and new pedals since the one pedal on there has blown bearings, so we picked up a set of $8 BMX pedals, pedal wrench, a little wrench/tire lever combination made for bikes with nutted wheels (her rear wheel is nutted) front wheel has quick release. Now a streetcar track contains a depressed space beside the rail, for the wheel flange to go into, this is a little over an inch and a half wide. Ideally you cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle, if you can't then you have to be over 45 degrees, or it will grab your wheel.

    I have known this for a while, and so does she, but I think she forgot, to make a left hand turn on a street with tracks you box the corner, go through the intersection, then turn your back end and go through the intersection the other way. She crossed the track parallel, it grabbed the front wheel, did the most amazing dance move (on a bicycle no less), I thought she was going to recover, uh, no, down she went. Bruised elbow, bruised leg, a couple of scrapes, bike is OK, we were able to ride to the subway, and head home.

    As for the pedals, I got the funky one replaced, the other needs some penetrating oil.

  2. #2
    Bicycle n00B
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    Ouch! Glad to hear she's mostly good, though, and nothing broken. Hope your wife recovers fully and quickly.
    I reserve the right to be wrong at any time. :D

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  3. #3
    Senior Member bluegoatwoods's Avatar
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    Ooohh....I'm glad she's not hurt too badly.

    You've reminded me of my time in San Francisco. One neighborhood (more or less where the Giants stadium is now) had all sorts of abandoned tracks poking out of the streets. They'd run at weird angles, some would curve, etc. I think they (at one time) carried cargo rather than streetcars.

    Most of the time they were no worse than any rough pavement. But when it was rainy....watch out.

    Those streets really weren't bikable at all in the wet.

  4. #4
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    I found the streetcar tracks in TO were best taken aggressively... cross at as steep an angle as possible. The only time I ever had a problem was in the wet - and then the tracks seemed to suck my wheel in from two feet away.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eshvanu View Post
    Ouch! Glad to hear she's mostly good, though, and nothing broken. Hope your wife recovers fully and quickly.
    Yeah, streetcars are becoming more popular in North America, and while between 1940 and 1970 most places replaced them with diesel motor buses, there is a new trend back to streetcars, as more and more cities battle high pollution and diesel prices head skyward. The new trend is to a separate right of way, it which case it's often called Light rail transit. With dry rails you need to mind the gap, with wet rails, it's safer to simply walk your bike across. A railway wheel has an extra wide part or flange on the outside, and the gap or groove is for that flange to go into, no idea why when the flange is about 2mm thick they need a 40mm wide groove, but that is the way it is.... Amazingly she actually crossed the first groove then hit the one beside the devil strip. For those that do not know, a devil strip is the strip between sets of rails.

    She's sore now, and probably will be worse tomorrow, before starting to get better.

  6. #6
    foolishly delirious RatedZeroHero's Avatar
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    try working at 3am in North Platte's Union Pacific Bailey yard during the worst blizzard in 12 years... (I'll dig up the picture of me doing just that...)

    those rails and ties get seriously slick...

  7. #7
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    I thought railroad wheels had the flange on the inside? Is it different for street car wheels?



    Regardless, I definitely know what you're talking about.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  8. #8
    foolishly delirious RatedZeroHero's Avatar
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    they are on the inside... wouldnt stay on the track if they were on the outside...

  9. #9
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    I like when you're riding parallel to trolley tracks and someone parks their car far enough into the street that you can either squeeze in between the car and the tracks, and risk getting doored or riding into the tracks, or you can jump over the first track and ride in between them. Good luck if a street car is coming up behind you.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
    I thought railroad wheels had the flange on the inside? Is it different for street car wheels?



    Regardless, I definitely know what you're talking about.
    Your right inside, doesn't make any difference though, just wonder why when the flange is 5mm wide, that they need a 40mm wide gap, seems like 10-15mm would be wide enough, and even the ultra-narrow 19mm bike tires could then simply go over it. As street cars and light rail transit vehicles get more popular in North America, it's something more and more people need to keep in mind:

    When dealing with embedded tracks in a roadway, always cross rails at an angle between 45 and 135 degrees, with 90 degrees being the ideal, if this is not possible, walk across the tracks.

  11. #11
    Senior Member mkadam68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    Your right inside, doesn't make any difference though, just wonder why when the flange is 5mm wide, that they need a 40mm wide gap, seems like 10-15mm would be wide enough, and even the ultra-narrow 19mm bike tires could then simply go over it. As street cars and light rail transit vehicles get more popular in North America, it's something more and more people need to keep in mind:

    When dealing with embedded tracks in a roadway, always cross rails at an angle between 45 and 135 degrees, with 90 degrees being the ideal, if this is not possible, walk across the tracks.
    Definitely.

    If no traffic is coming, I'll change the angle of my path to make a 90-deg crossing by crossing the whole roadway.

    Visit The C-Blog : the blog about cycling.

  12. #12
    Newbie RoundRider's Avatar
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    Wogsterca. I feel for you. I took a dive many years ago on Queen out by the beaches. I tried to do a short parallel drift over the tracks, and it caught me and spit me off like a bronc. Bruises, scrapes, and a dented ego.

    I also have this oddball car that fits the tires on the rails almost perfectly. Thankfully, the tires are 215's and let me out easy enough. I drove from Jarvis to Spadina one day and never touched the steering wheel. It just sorta bounced back and forth on the rails and I just watched the brakes and gas.

    Used to ride motorcycles in the core and hated them just as much.
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