Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Stop the Atlanta Deathtrap(s)!

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Stop the Atlanta Deathtrap(s)!

Old 03-23-05, 11:46 AM
  #1  
The Bottom Line
Thread Starter
 
andreunin1936's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Decatur, GA, USA
Posts: 35
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Stop the Atlanta Deathtrap(s)!

For a few years I've been quietly raging over two sets of railroad tracks in Atlanta that have recently caused two friends to wreck. One fractured his wrist and the other broke his collarbone.

The offending tracks are both on DeKalb Ave. The first set is functional, near the East Lake MARTA station. They cross the road at a 20 degree angle, and absurdly cross the bike path. When they built the path last year I expected them to somehow account for the very dangerous conditions but nothing was done. My friend hit these tracks improperly at what sounds like a low speed but still flew out in front of a truck, breaking his stem, tacoing his wheel, and hurting his wrist.

The second set is an old, non-functional set near the King Memorial station that are much worse than the first. They have patchy wooden edges, are partly filled with concrete, and hit the street at a 15-20 degree angle at the bottom of an incline. My other friend was riding down the incline for the first time the other day and slowed down, tried to take the tracks perpendicularly, but hit a crease and lost control.

DeKalb is a highly-trafficked street for cyclists, as it is a main artery into the city, and is partly covered by the bike path. Even cyclists such as myself who ride this route every day still get queasy on coming up to these two sets of tracks, as if the road is busy it's hard to swing out far enough to hit them squarely, so one must either slow to a crawl and cross his fingers (introducing the danger of rapid decelleration in high-speed traffic) or try and muscle out the cars to take the tracks at a good angle. The fact that the old set is so dangerous yet is unused and hasn't been covered over is particularly frustrating.

What can we do about this stuff? Ideas? How about a late-nite Quikcrete session?

Craig
andreunin1936 is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 11:50 AM
  #2  
Recumbent Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Posts: 2,991

Bikes: Rebel Cycles Trike, Trek 7500FX

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sue the city for unsafe road conditions.
jeff-o is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 12:14 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
bikebuddha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Somewhere in time
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Originally Posted by jeff-o
Sue the city for unsafe road conditions.

Sadly Atlanta makes full use of sovereign immunity.

Theres a bad set of tracks on Church Street in Marietta headed toward Kennesaw Mountain. I've complained often and loudly but nothing ever gets done.
__________________
The few, the proud, the likely insane, Metro-Atlanta bicycle commuters.
bikebuddha is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 12:25 PM
  #4  
Recumbent Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Posts: 2,991

Bikes: Rebel Cycles Trike, Trek 7500FX

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Then take it to the media. Just make sure that you use the words "cyclist deathtraps" when you describe the predicament to the reporter. They love that stuff.
jeff-o is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 12:26 PM
  #5  
dangerous with tools
 
halfbiked's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: minneapolis
Posts: 4,502

Bikes: fat, long, single & fast

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sounds like late-nite quikcrete is the solution. I'd try not to get caught doing it to the active tracks though!


Sometimes there's not much to be done, other than be careful. Or find a new route.
halfbiked is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 02:04 PM
  #6  
Geosynchronous Falconeer
 
recursive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 6,312

Bikes: 2006 Raleigh Rush Hour, Campy Habanero Team Ti, Soma Double Cross

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The vigilante approach appeals to me too. Fill that sucker in. (at least the non-functional one)
__________________
Bring the pain.
recursive is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 03:57 PM
  #7  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Count me as a victim of one of those tracks.

This morning, March 23rd, I was riding westbound on the bike path near the East Lake MARTA station. I have using this exact same route since the construction was finished last year. I slowed down and stood on my pedals to help distribute my weight better. As soon as I crossed the first track, I felt the bike slip out from underneath me and down on my right side. Fortunately, I was far enough off the road so I was not near any cars. I got up and check out my bike and myself. We both just got a few scratchs and scraps. (but dang, it's my new bike!)

I'll try to take some pictures to post here of the crossing this afternoon on the way home. I wonder who has responsibility of the crossing: the railroad, the county, the city, or the Path foundation? I'll try to find out.

And maybe we should do the media thing too. With all the warm weather we have been having lately (along with the price of gas), I've seen a lot more cyclists in the last week or two. Might make a good story.
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 04:06 PM
  #8  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Here is a photo from 2002, before the path was built. You can see the extreme angle the path crosses the railroad tracks.
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-23-05, 04:13 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Dchiefransom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Newark, CA. San Francisco Bay Area
Posts: 6,251
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 31 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 3 Posts
Cyclists shouldn't be tryinbg to ride over tracks at that angle. On my Tour De Cure cnetury in May, they will have a police officer at some tracks like that to make sure riders stop and walk across.
There are some tracks at that angle in Pleasanton, Ca that have a special crossing just for bicycles. There is a piece on each side of the rail that is pushed down when trains go by, but are about even with the top of the rail when lighter vehicles go over them. This piece fills the gap normally on the side of each rail.
In some areas, the railroad company is responsible for maintaining the crossings. If they are in Georgia, then they don't have sovereign immunity.
Dchiefransom is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 09:17 AM
  #10  
Easily distracted...
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Decatur, Ga
Posts: 1,067

Bikes: Surley Cross Check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
andre and ron,

I ride that route once a week or so heading downtown. I've had good luck getting over on College, the other side of the tracks. Less traffic and better roadway. That works great for me, especially heading to the new Edgewood retail area or East Atlanta. Otherwise, I try to take Coventry or Mclendon to the PATH route if I'm heading to Midtown or Tech. I try to stay off Dekalb Ave as much as possible, especially since those first set of tracks still see daily train use. I've gotten stuck there by a train lots of times. Hooray for Atlanta.

Edit: Dchiefransom, the railroad company (CSX in this case) does have responsibility for maintaining that crosssing, but thanks to the lease deal that the state governmentt cut with them, they have near sovereign immunity. Georgia politics...just ask anyone involved with the Beltline or PATH foundation about that.

Last edited by GTcommuter; 03-24-05 at 09:23 AM.
GTcommuter is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 09:24 AM
  #11  
Easily distracted...
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Decatur, Ga
Posts: 1,067

Bikes: Surley Cross Check

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Dchiefransom, the railroad company (CSX in this case) does have responsibility for maintaining that crosssing, but thanks to the lease deal that the state governmentt cut with them, they have nearly complete sovereign immunity. Georgia politics...just ask anyone involved with the Beltline or PATH foundation about that.
GTcommuter is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 09:47 AM
  #12  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Here are the photos I took this morning. The path actually narrows at the crossing, making the attempt of swinging out and crossing at better angle almost impossible. However, there is enough room to widen the path and make the crossing more like the diagram.
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 10:42 AM
  #13  
aspiring dirtbag commuter
 
max-a-mill's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: philly
Posts: 2,123
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
i am sorry but i just don't see the problem....

you slow down a little, take em at at least a 45 degree angle and you'd never have any problems i'd guess?

maybe a sign to indicate the dangers of them to people who don't know any better. i bet they take out a lot of newbies!

there are trolley tracks all over the streets here in philly and they never give me problems unless i am not paying attention... maybe i am just used to crossing them?
max-a-mill is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 10:52 AM
  #14  
Geosynchronous Falconeer
 
recursive's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sacramento, CA
Posts: 6,312

Bikes: 2006 Raleigh Rush Hour, Campy Habanero Team Ti, Soma Double Cross

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Actually, now that I think of it, there is a similar crossing here in Madison on University Ave:

https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=43.07...0.006308&hl=en

University Avenue does have a bike lane, and I think this might be an even narrower angle, but I've never had any trouble navigating it. The bike lane is probably a little wider than the one above though.
__________________
Bring the pain.
recursive is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 01:17 PM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
bikebuddha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Somewhere in time
Posts: 1,137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
What's that strange magical device holding up your bike?



Originally Posted by Map tester
Here are the photos I took this morning. The path actually narrows at the crossing, making the attempt of swinging out and crossing at better angle almost impossible. However, there is enough room to widen the path and make the crossing more like the diagram.
__________________
The few, the proud, the likely insane, Metro-Atlanta bicycle commuters.
bikebuddha is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 02:06 PM
  #16  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
OMG, I have been outted: I have a kickstand (gasp)

I feel better now...

(Sorry about that. In my old school way of thinking, a bike isn't complete without a kickstand.)
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 02:13 PM
  #17  
okay maybe not.
 
mmerner's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: waukesha, wi
Posts: 598

Bikes: oh a bunch.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
how about doing something like this?
__________________
question everything.
mmerner is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 02:18 PM
  #18  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
That would do it. Now we need to get the railroad involved...
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-24-05, 02:54 PM
  #19  
Chronic Tai Shan
 
ofofhy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: PHL/BAL
Posts: 1,118

Bikes: Pake Single Speed

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by max-a-mill
there are trolley tracks all over the streets here in philly and they never give me problems unless i am not paying attention... maybe i am just used to crossing them?
I ride down a street that has tracks running parallel down the middle of the road (11th St for the Philly Pholks). When holding the right lane, I have to ride between the tracks but it is easy to cross the tracks even travelling parallel to them. Just turn slightly to the left, and then whip the front wheel back to the right across the rail.

Only time I had a problem was going real slow and a minivan moved into me and forced me into the tracks at a funny angle. I somehow landed on my feet, but the bike went down.
ofofhy is offline  
Old 03-25-05, 10:40 AM
  #20  
The Bottom Line
Thread Starter
 
andreunin1936's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Decatur, GA, USA
Posts: 35
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I appreciate all the feedback on this issue & want to express my sympathy for Map Tester's recent accident. Hope you're ok. This just points out that it's not newbies who are taking it on the chin even on relatively new, well-kept tracks. My friend who broke his wrist rides that route every day and has been on a bike for a long, long time. My friend with the broken clavicle rode across the US and Europe a few years ago.

I don't think I'd ever ride a different route to GSU from Decatur; Dekalb seems just as safe as any on-street riding in Atlanta, and even better, it's a straight shot with plenty of shoulder space due to the reversible lane.

I'm angrier about the non-functional tracks at Airline than the East Lake tracks, though it's rather disturbing that the PATH project wouldn't have taken the East Lake tracks into account. A simple swoop in the paving plan like outlined above would have been really effective, I think.

I know little can be done about the functioning tracks, but there's no reason for the non-functioning ones to continue to jeopardize cyclists and the tires of our four-wheeled friends. These are really bad tracks. Maybe Map Tester can snap a picture.
andreunin1936 is offline  
Old 03-28-05, 07:08 PM
  #21  
El Dorado
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sorry, but I've crossed these tracks 3-4 times a week, each way for over 12 years and have never had a problem. Operator error, I suppose. You want to tackle something worthwhile on Dekalb Ave. then how about all those water runoff drains on the soutside of the Street. Those are truly dangerous.
Loucifer is offline  
Old 03-29-05, 08:09 AM
  #22  
FOG
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Annapolis, MD
Posts: 798
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Bear in mind that highway-rail grade crossings are on the private property of the railroad, and are easements imposed on the railroad by the state. Most railroads have an excellent technique for reducing the number of accidents at highway-rail grade crossings. They would prefer to eliminate all such crossings, and let highway users find their way to grade separated crossings, paid for by highway users who would receive their benefit.
FOG is offline  
Old 03-29-05, 08:44 AM
  #23  
I am not a car
 
Map tester's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Decatur, GA
Posts: 747

Bikes: Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I'll admit that it was probably a good deal of operator error when I went down on the tracks last week--new bike and wheels, and very different handling. I had crossed those tracks hundreds of times too, without any problems.

In a series of e-mails with someone in the Path Foundation, they confirmed that CSX does own the right-of-way where the 'swoop' would be built and that they take "an average of two years to get a positive response from CSX." They are looking into the crossing and will get back to me about it.

I understand what FOG is talking about. There is an underpass about a block away from there, and I have used that at times. However, the road I use to go eastbound after the underpass (E. College Ave.) turns into a tight 4 lane road where I consistently have drivers honk and yell for 'taking the lane' during the afternoon drive time. I have found taking the bike path a much calmer experience at the end of the day.

It appears that Loucifer and andreunin1936 have very legitimate complaints about other parts of DeKalb Ave (I know about those drains!). Do either of you live within the city limits of Atlanta? Have you contacted your councilperson at City Hall to discuss this? I live in DeKalb County, and will see what I can do through my local Board of Commissioners person. This is something that can take time, but if we keep at it, we might be able to make DeKalb Ave. a better bicycle-friendly road.

There are times when I wish gasoline was $7/gallon!
__________________
"Bad facts make bad laws." FZ
Map tester is offline  
Old 03-29-05, 09:46 AM
  #24  
Sumanitu taka owaci
 
LittleBigMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Posts: 8,945
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Dekalb Ave. from Decatur to Atlanta has been my main route downtown for years. I fell on those tracks once, and though I've crossed them many times safely, I avoid them now. That crossing was built sometime during the rise of Cro Magnon Man.

Tommy Lupo, Safety Director of the Southern Bicycle League, told me he broke his leg crossing those tracks. This man logged 12,000 miles last year.

I take Edgewood Ave., which is a much better parallel alternative. The RR passes under Edgwood Ave., instead of across it.

The RR crossing just west of East Lake station are much better and I've never had a problem with their design.
__________________
No worries

Last edited by LittleBigMan; 03-29-05 at 09:51 AM.
LittleBigMan is offline  
Old 03-29-05, 09:56 AM
  #25  
Maglia Ciclamino
 
gcasillo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Mason, OH
Posts: 3,073

Bikes: Bianchi Aria, Bianchi Volpe

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
While it's nice to have bike lanes, I don't like the idea of riding toward oncoming traffic on the left side. Yikes!

If I'm going away from the fella with the camera in these photos (toward oncoming traffic), and another biker is coming towards me (riding with traffic), he'd better prepare for an intense joust, because I'm going to stick as far left in that bike path as I possibly can.

One mishandling of your bike on that path, and you're roadkill. What's the speed limit there?
gcasillo is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.