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Old 05-09-14, 10:07 AM   #1
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Railroad crossing advice

Hey guys, I switched jobs a few months back, and I now have to go over this crossing:
https://www.google.com/maps/@43.0934.../data=!3m1!1e3

As you can see, the angle the tracks cross the road are kind of terrible, so I end up going from the outside edge of the outer lane all the way to the inside edge of the outer lane so I don't get my wheel sucked into the track.

Up until yesterday, I haven't had any issues, but on my way in, some ********** in a SUV decided to pass me, in my lane, on the tracks. Which forced me to cut away from him and, while I didn't crash, I could have easily either gone into him, or gotten either of my wheels sucked into the track.

So, just wondering what you all would do when crossing.

The extra caveat is, it's really close to a large (15k+) college, with the standard share of idiot 18-22 year old drivers.
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Old 05-09-14, 10:10 AM   #2
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I have to cross tracks in a similar situation and did crash a few weeks ago. I got some good advice in this thread: Took a Tumble Today
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Old 05-09-14, 10:44 AM   #3
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Even on the best of days, that's a goofy angle. I'd dismount and portage.
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Old 05-09-14, 10:49 AM   #4
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Slow down to a crawl (a few mph) get off the saddle and putt putt over them..
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Old 05-09-14, 10:51 AM   #5
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I cross 7 sets of tracks on my commute to work, and none of the ones I cross are at an angle like that. I'd go slow and use the trail.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:06 AM   #6
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that is not that bad. at leas ton one side you have the trail to use. just slow down and be sure you are upright and not banking for the turn.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:06 AM   #7
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I usually switch to the sidewalk to go over tracks crossing anything but side streets. Looks like you have a trail you can ride. I would take that.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:17 AM   #8
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I'd definitely use the trail here.

Failing that:

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Old 05-09-14, 11:18 AM   #9
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I like the sidewalk option, but just for a moment. If I'm understanding your direction correctly - rt to left on the satellite image - I'd hop on on that driveway entrance just before the crossing. Drawing a line from that sidewalk back onto the road gives a fairly perpendicular line to the tracks, basically simulating your line from white line to yellow lines.

I used this street view too.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:28 AM   #10
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I like the sidewalk option, but just for a moment. If I'm understanding your direction correctly - rt to left on the satellite image - I'd hop on on that driveway entrance just before the crossing. Drawing a line from that sidewalk back onto the road gives a fairly perpendicular line to the tracks, basically simulating your line from white line to yellow lines.

I used this street view too.
.... I'm so road centric with my bike style I never even considered the trail. That could def. work in the mornings (east->west on that road), not sure about the evenings though, it would add a bunch of crossing over the road just for the track.

The road is to busy to block both lanes in my direction, and if I leave the road and then get back on, it would def. cause road rage or other issues, but for whatever reason traffic is in more of a hurry in the morning than the evening, so trail in the morning, and play it by ear in the evening.
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Old 05-09-14, 11:29 AM   #11
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I'd definitely use the trail here.

Failing that:


Holy Jesus, that's incredible. My attempt would look more like this:
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Old 05-09-14, 11:31 AM   #12
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I like the sidewalk option, but just for a moment. If I'm understanding your direction correctly - rt to left on the satellite image - I'd hop on on that driveway entrance just before the crossing. Drawing a line from that sidewalk back onto the road gives a fairly perpendicular line to the tracks, basically simulating your line from white line to yellow lines.

I used this street view too.
From your street view shots, I can see that the sidewalk option avoids the steel plates. That would be my choice, given the angle of the tracks isn't really all that bad.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:01 PM   #13
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I guess that I don't see the prob. I run 2 sets much worse than that without even breaking stride. Those tracks are smooth as glass. The angle isn't bad either.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:10 PM   #14
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I guess that I don't see the prob. I run 2 sets much worse than that without even breaking stride. Those tracks are smooth as glass. The angle isn't bad either.
The problem is drivers. I need to hit the tracks at an angle that takes me across the entire outside lane to avoid my wheel falling into the slot for the tracks. 99% of the time it's not an issue, yesterday a car decided to pass me in that same outside lane, directly over the railroad tracks.
So here's the basic issue from yesterday:
A: I almost went into his front side panel from the angle I have to take crossing it
B: I had to jerk hard back to my right to avoid him, which could have put my wheel into the track, causing me to crash.
C: The tracks are actually really rough, although I feel like smooth glass would also be really dangerous.
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Old 05-09-14, 12:20 PM   #15
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I would fly across those things without even leaving the trail at 15 mph no prob. Like I said before, I WISH the many tracks in my city were even close to that smooth.
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Old 05-10-14, 01:27 AM   #16
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That looks like a proper crossing to me... My suggestion would be to get in a low gear & slow down to 10 mph and keep your handlebar straight. Next time someone drives like that near you, try to get their plate & call the cops.

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Old 05-14-14, 08:43 AM   #17
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slow down and just ride the white line. it doesn't look as bad as other crossings I've seen.
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Old 05-14-14, 10:47 AM   #18
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That looks like a proper crossing to me... My suggestion would be to get in a low gear & slow down to 10 mph and keep your handlebar straight. Next time someone drives like that near you, try to get their plate & call the cops.

- Andy

That's what I do, except for when the guy forces me to change my angle to not go into the side of him. The crossing looks good from the satellite, but it doesn't show the potholes all around the edge of the metal plates, or the height variance between the two sets of tracks.
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Old 05-14-14, 10:48 AM   #19
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slow down and just ride the white line. it doesn't look as bad as other crossings I've seen.
When I cross my entire lane, I'm still only crossing the tracks at about a 60-70 degree angle, if I stayed on the white line I'd be crossing at 30 degrees at the most, with the gap between the metal plate and the railroad track itself, that sounds super risky from a wheel suck perspective.
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Old 05-14-14, 11:21 AM   #20
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That's what I do, except for when the guy forces me to change my angle to not go into the side of him. The crossing looks good from the satellite, but it doesn't show the potholes all around the edge of the metal plates, or the height variance between the two sets of tracks.
Definitely complain to railroad or local municipality. Potholes are road cancer, they grow and get worse and can end up causing serious damage to vehicles.

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Old 05-14-14, 11:29 AM   #21
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I agree with some of the others -- take the sidewalk/trail around that section of the road while crossing the tracks. I am a diehard roadie and generally stay off the sidewalks, but will use them in situations like this where it is dangerous to stay on the road. There is an intersection on my way home where the traffic backs up because there is no left-turn arrow at the traffic light, which makes it hard to get through without sitting through multiple light cycles at times. When I see the traffic backed up like that, I just hop on the sidewalk and go around it. There is no point sitting through several light cycles because some driver is having difficulty making a left turn and blocking all of the traffic behind them.
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Old 05-14-14, 11:39 AM   #22
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While this may sound crazy, I'd look to make a small modification around the track rails themselves. What if you filled in the gaps around a short crossing segment, on the shoulder, with home insulation foam, just to see what happens? Fill the gap between the asphalt and the rail across an 8" segment, let it expand and harden, then shave it down flat?
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Old 05-14-14, 12:00 PM   #23
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While this may sound crazy, I'd look to make a small modification around the track rails themselves. What if you filled in the gaps around a short crossing segment, on the shoulder, with home insulation foam, just to see what happens? Fill the gap between the asphalt and the rail across an 8" segment, let it expand and harden, then shave it down flat?
That would be a good way to get yourself arrested or hauled into court by the RR company. Seriously.
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Old 05-14-14, 12:43 PM   #24
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A popular biking road near here has an even sharper angle, on a one-lane in each direction road. I have a mirror, so it's easy to monitor traffic coming up behind. I'll either let the cars pass by, or take the lane and point left, like a left turn signal. But I end up in the oncoming lane, so there can't be any cars approaching, either.

If your tracks were just a little less angled, I'd ride across them staying straight on the road, not trying to angle over. But I'd keep my speed up enough to coast over the tracks. The critical thing is to make sure to be centered and balanced on the bike, so the tires don't have any side force at all.

I've seen riders fall when they turn sharply just before the tracks to hit the rails at 90 degrees. They are still leaning into the turn when their wheel crosses the rails, and they slide right out, even though the wheel is at 90 degrees.

Your crossing. It looks like a 45 degree angle to the road. It's tricky to cut across your lane, since you can't really control two lanes of traffic coming from behind, and you'll be in the left of the two lanes by the time you cross over.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg RR crossing.jpg (92.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg RR2.JPG (88.0 KB, 10 views)

Last edited by rm -rf; 05-14-14 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 05-14-14, 12:45 PM   #25
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When I cross my entire lane, I'm still only crossing the tracks at about a 60-70 degree angle, if I stayed on the white line I'd be crossing at 30 degrees at the most, with the gap between the metal plate and the railroad track itself, that sounds super risky from a wheel suck perspective.
I looked at the google street view. that crossing is in excellent condition. meaning the roadway on either side is not falling apart or chipping. I would not be doing any fancy stuff like crossing lanes at a RR crossing. be slow and predictable. I saw the angle and it should be fine going slowly. if you are still not comfortable take the sidewalk but that seems not necessary. good luck.

for reference check out this nasty crossing. yours is absolutely pristine!
http://moderntransit.org/expy_graphi...ldshoulder.jpg
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