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Riding the rails, on a bike. An old way to commute

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Riding the rails, on a bike. An old way to commute

Old 07-24-12, 09:03 AM
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FenderTL5
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Riding the rails, on a bike. An old way to commute

Sometimes a picture says it all.
This was found in a batch of old photos from my hometown,

Attached Images
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Old 07-24-12, 09:06 AM
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Wow. That seems... Brave.
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Old 07-24-12, 09:11 AM
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brilliant!
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Old 07-24-12, 09:23 AM
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Sorry , cold shower time

Track right of way is a property issue, though, in the US..
Property of railroad corporations. trespassing applies.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-24-12 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 07-24-12, 09:25 AM
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That would be perfect for me. There's one rail line in town and it runs within a quarter mile of my house about 10 miles east of town to about a quarter mile from my office on the far southwest side. Might be a few miles longer than doing it by road, but it would eliminate the hills.
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Old 07-24-12, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
Wow. That seems... Brave.
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Sorry , cold shower time

Track right of way is a property issue, though, in the US..
Property of railroad corporations. trespassing applies.
I don't know if it makes a difference on trespassing, but the photo is pre-WWII era.
Train schedules were much more exact and predictable then, so I don't think he had to be as brave as one would be today.
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Old 07-24-12, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
Wow. That seems... Brave.
Considering that around here you would be likely to get rear ended by an 80 ton Amtrak doing eighty mph*. With modern continuous welded rails, you don't even get that ol' clickity clack warning, and the NIMBY's have passed laws against them blasting horns through some towns. (Tustin CA is one)

* I clocked it on my Garmin.
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Old 07-24-12, 10:29 AM
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I bet you would be able to feel the vibration in the rails of an approaching train. Those long, continuous welded rails should theoretically carry vibrations quite a long ways.

But yeah most railways consider it trespassing to be on or around the rail beds.
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Old 07-24-12, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
and the NIMBY's have passed laws against them blasting horns through some towns. (Tustin CA is one)
i'm pretty sure that federal railroad law would supersede a local ordinance against horn blowing. if a train operator sees someone ahead on the tracks in danger, he's going to blow the horn every time to alert them, regardless of any local statutes.
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Old 07-24-12, 11:20 AM
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To be clear; I'm not advocating anyone take this up. I just thought the photo from a bygone era was fascinating.
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Old 07-24-12, 11:55 AM
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While it's not riding ON the rails, there is an unimproved railroad crossing on the Des Plaines River Trail near here. The trail ends, up and over the tracks, the trail begins again.

Edit: Here's the location on Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/?ll=42.057226...01109&t=h&z=20

Last edited by umazuki; 07-24-12 at 12:10 PM. Reason: Now with link!
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Old 07-24-12, 12:01 PM
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To be clear; I'm not advocating anyone take this up.

I plan on trying it. Just waiting for a set up like the one pictured to come up on CL.
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Old 07-24-12, 12:02 PM
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that would be nice if it could be perfected
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Old 07-24-12, 12:35 PM
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Yeah the flange on the railroad wheel keeps the bike from moving left, but doesn't look like there's anything to keep it from moving right off of the rails.
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Old 07-24-12, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
Yeah the flange on the railroad wheel keeps the bike from moving left, but doesn't look like there's anything to keep it from moving right off of the rails.
Since few if any of us have every seen a contraption like this before, I'd venture to guess that it didn't really work. I think the bike would have to have twin railroad wheels parallel to the bike wheels in order to successfully take a curve.

It was just some dude with a fun idea that happened to make a great photo.

Last edited by tjspiel; 07-24-12 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 07-24-12, 01:30 PM
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Try that around here with the Acela trains that go up to 150 mph. Quiet too.
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Old 07-24-12, 01:33 PM
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http://www.antiquebicycles.org/vinta...e-bicycling-6/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl9Ef...eature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtGzA...eature=related
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Old 07-24-12, 01:35 PM
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Here's one with two wheels, and it has double-flanged wheels to keep the whole contraption from slipping off the rails.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Bicy...05%26rk%3D3%26
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Old 07-24-12, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by umazuki View Post
While it's not riding ON the rails, there is an unimproved railroad crossing on the Des Plaines River Trail near here. The trail ends, up and over the tracks, the trail begins again.

Edit: Here's the location on Google Maps: http://maps.google.com/?ll=42.057226...01109&t=h&z=20
First time I got to that point I thought I'd lost the trail somehow, and wondered how I could do that with the crushed white gravel they used for the trail. Especially when I could see another trail sign across the railroad tracks. Some other riders came up as I was starting to backtrack and he told me you did have to climb the embankment and cross the tracks to get to the other side.
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Old 07-24-12, 01:49 PM
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There are Rail bikes people make , use Abandoned track .. but,
being Abandoned you need to plan around overgrown brush, mudslides,
and rotten trestle timbers..
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Old 07-24-12, 01:57 PM
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How about a railroad bike?

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Old 07-24-12, 02:02 PM
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Seems like I read somewhere that the kind posted in the OP were used by railroadmen to get to a spot on the track they needed to work on or check out, no? I've seen trucks fitted to run on the rails to repair them in the last 10-20 years.
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Old 07-24-12, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Seems like I read somewhere that the kind posted in the OP were used by railroadmen to get to a spot on the track they needed to work on or check out, no? I've seen trucks fitted to run on the rails to repair them in the last 10-20 years.
You're probably right about that.

There have been trucks with RR wheels at the corners for decades now. The smaller pickup-trucks, usually American full-size trucks, are usually fitted with narrower tires and wheels to match the gauge of the track rails. The truck's tires provide the forward drive, while the steel wheels at the corners (lowered and lifted hydraulically) serve only to guide the truck and keep it on the rails.

Here's another video of a different home-built rail bike:

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Old 07-24-12, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
Seems like I read somewhere that the kind posted in the OP were used by railroadmen to get to a spot on the track they needed to work on or check out, no? I've seen trucks fitted to run on the rails to repair them in the last 10-20 years.
I thought they used something like this:

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Old 07-24-12, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
I bet you would be able to feel the vibration in the rails of an approaching train. Those long, continuous welded rails should theoretically carry vibrations quite a long ways.

But yeah most railways consider it trespassing to be on or around the rail beds.
You can actually hear the rails "singing". It sounds a little like someone playing a saw, but by the time it is loud enough, you're toast.
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