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Old 04-14-17, 10:42 AM   #1
BobbyG
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Jolted Out of Complacency...

This could have been a lot worse. I am aware of these gaps on this railroad crossing and have avoided them literally thousands of times over the last 25 years.

However, this morning for whatever reason I didn't. I was scanning the junction just over the tracks for traffic while riding the brakes to slow down I must have been going only 6 to 10 mph when "WHAM!"

My bike crashed to a stop. I found myself standing astride my bike after first being thown forward and then slamming down onto the saddle's nose....hard. I have never been so happy to have a padded gel seat cover. Somehow my hands never left the bars. I have drop bars but was grabbing the "interrupter" levers on the upper bars as I crouched and leaned forward to get a better view of the cross-road ahead. I use toe clips but lucky for me both feet must have come out because I was standing on them.

At first I thought I must have hit a pot hole, but then I looked down and saw the gap. My front wheel was mostly out of the gap and resting against the far rail and my rear wheel was on the pavement to the right of the gap.

A quick visual inspection showed no scratches on the tires, rims, fork or plastic SKS longboards that curve way, way down on this bike. And here at the office a longer look stills shows no damage or scuffs.

As I said I have traversed this crossing on my commute thousands of times over 25 years and am aware of and "mind the gaps". But this incident has literally jolted me out of complacency.

This is a mess of an old rail crossing on a hill that high-centers trailers, trucks and limos often. Last fall the city of Colorado Springs announced plans to build a new upgraded crossing a half mile east and close this one off to vehicular traffic, but with a underpass for pedestrians and cyclists as this street will be used to link two nearby MUPS. If you're interested, it is at the intersection of Royer and Las Vegas Streets 80903.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/E+...B2A-YQ8gEIIzAA
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Old 04-14-17, 01:13 PM   #2
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Holy Crap! How did you not crash, or have a bent rim or SOMETHING! Glad everything's ok!
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Old 04-14-17, 02:33 PM   #3
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thank your cat-like reflexes. send in a written complaint. the next person that crashes without the same positive results will thank you when their lawyer does his due diligence. without a complaint on file, the city can claim "we had no idea of the hazard to cyclists"

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Old 04-14-17, 04:57 PM   #4
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thank you cat-like reflexes. send in a written complaint. the next person that crashes without the same positive results will that you when their lawyer does his due diligence. without a complaint of file the city can claim "we had no idea of the hazard to cyclists"
I hadn't thought of that. Excellent point.
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Old 04-14-17, 05:12 PM   #5
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That gap shouldn't have caused any problems for a bike crossing it. The same way that crossing expansion joints or railroad tracks or any narrow gap wouldn't.

SO.

I suspect there's something not mentioned, maybe even unknown to the OP at the time. The likeliest possibility is that he dropped a wheel into the trolley tracks, then maybe caught toe corner.

Anyway, my real question is why would anyone ride between trolley tracks, leaving himself so little room to swing and turn across to turn out of them?

Sorry for "blaming the victim" but IMO the problem isn't the tracks or gap, but the rider's poor choice of position, compounded by inattentiveness.
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Old 04-14-17, 06:01 PM   #6
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I hadn't thought of that. Excellent point.
only reason I mention is cuz of an article I read about potholes
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Old 04-14-17, 06:03 PM   #7
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That gap shouldn't have caused any problems for a bike crossing it. The same way that crossing expansion joints or railroad tracks or any narrow gap wouldn't
but while most of the grooves are perpendicular to travel that one is parallel. so looks like a tire would easily fall into it
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Old 04-14-17, 06:17 PM   #8
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but while most of the grooves are perpendicular to travel that one is parallel. so looks like a tire would easily fall into it
Got it. You took the photo too close, so I took it for granted that you were riding parallel the the tracks.

So, you were crossing the tracks, and happened to pick the one dumb place to do it. As you mentioned, you were aware of the issue, which is really no different than tracks, and simply weren't thinking.

I get that. We all do something similar from time to time, so I don't blame you. But I find it hard to blame anybody else when someone disengages the brain and rides into a known hazard.

As cyclists, we need to stay alert for all sorts of road hazards that are hazards only because our skinny tires. Those include trolley tracks, the parallel joints between slabs of concrete, uneven steps in pavement, steel plates, sewer grates, and so on.

Some, such as sewer grates, can be eliminated through engineering changes, but others will always be there. Here, they've turned the sewer grates, but the entire grate often pulls away from the pavement, leaving a tire eating gap there. Likewise, there is often fractured pavement at the edges of grates which is also hard on cyclists.

So, we all have to stay alert, for the simple reason that we're the ones with the most at stake.
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Old 04-14-17, 06:24 PM   #9
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So, we all have to stay alert, for the simple reason that we're the ones with the most at stake.
wasn't me, but yeah I follow what you're saying, which he fessed up to in his OP
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Old 04-14-17, 06:29 PM   #10
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wasn't me, but yeah I follow what you're saying, which he fessed up to in his OP
Yes, which is why I made a point of saying I understood how it could happen to anybody.

My point about blaming others was more in response to others who seemed to imply that somehow the city was blameworthy.
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Old 04-14-17, 09:44 PM   #11
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thank your cat-like reflexes. send in a written complaint. the next person that crashes without the same positive results will thank you when their lawyer does his due diligence. without a complaint on file, the city can claim "we had no idea of the hazard to cyclists"
This is in the RR right of way, not the city's responsibility to maintain.
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Old 04-15-17, 03:41 AM   #12
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This is in the RR right of way, not the city's responsibility to maintain.
in Boston the local "T" is under city jurisdiction. not sure about our commuter rails. regardless a letter to an appropriate authority can be helpful as opposed to doing nothing. I'm just not the type to do nothing if there's a possibility I can help prevent someone else's injury or death. we get dumb ppl hit by trains on a regular bassis in MA
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Old 04-15-17, 03:45 AM   #13
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My point about blaming others was more in response to others who seemed to imply that somehow the city was blameworthy.
that part was me. was just thinking someone in authority should be aware of the hazard. regardless of the original engineering, there is a hazard to public safety. if they aren't aware and do nothing to correct it, that's one thing. if they are aware and do nothing that's another thing
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Old 04-15-17, 05:37 AM   #14
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that part was me. was just thinking someone in authority should be aware of the hazard. regardless of the original engineering, there is a hazard to public safety. if they aren't aware and do nothing to correct it, that's one thing. if they are aware and do nothing that's another thing

I fully agree that the proper authority should be made aware. There is no possible way that any government can have enough observant staff to notice every single potential safety issue. This is especially true with Northern climate roads where hazards can pop up daily. Most cities do rely on citizen input to be made aware of hazards. My city has a central "286-CITY" phone number for complaints.
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Old 04-15-17, 06:15 AM   #15
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Glad you're okay. Pay attention next time;-)
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Old 04-15-17, 08:01 PM   #16
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Yes, which is why I made a point of saying I understood how it could happen to anybody.

My point about blaming others was more in response to others who seemed to imply that somehow the city was blameworthy.
The city is blameworthy, and should have fixed a known hazard a long time ago. While we all agree that the OP avoided the hazard for years, and is equally to blame for his near crash, the city needs to step up and eliminate that cross gap. Do you believe that gap is always visible in a heavy snow? If it is not visible in heavy rain, snow or covered by snow, is a cyclist crossing for the first time at fault or would the city be solely at fault in that case?
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Old 04-15-17, 08:31 PM   #17
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The city is blameworthy, and should have fixed a known hazard a long time ago.......
Thinking of all the hazards I encounter on my daily commute, and in the Seattle metropolitan area in general.......
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Old 04-15-17, 08:54 PM   #18
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The city is blameworthy, and should have fixed a known hazard a long time ago. While we all agree that the OP avoided the hazard for years, and is equally to blame for his near crash, the city needs to step up and eliminate that cross gap. Do you believe that gap is always visible in a heavy snow? If it is not visible in heavy rain, snow or covered by snow, is a cyclist crossing for the first time at fault or would the city be solely at fault in that case?
Those look like precast drop in panels and the gap likely allows for expansion/contraction for freeze/thaw cycles. It's a RR Xing and any rider should be doubly cautious crossing ANY RR xing.
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