Tram Crash: Cycle Crashes on Sheffield’s Tramlines

CycleSheffield has been collecting information about cycle accidents on the tramlines in Sheffield. If you’ve crashed on the tram tracks while riding your bike please report it online at

What’s the problem?

Tram tracks pose the biggest danger to cyclists in Sheffield and they deter people from making journeys by bike. We’ve now received over 200 reports of cycle crashes on the tram tracks and the key pattern emerging is that they appear to happen to anyone regardless of cycling ability and experience and do not appear to be caused by cyclist behaviour.

The presence of tracks on the road also constrains a rider’s movement and makes it harder to move to the centre of the carriageway e.g to pass obstacles such as parked cars.

People should not be expected to cycle on roads with this hazard. Alternatives must be provided if more people are to have the freedom to choose to cycle in Sheffield.

 What should be done?

Many roads with tram tracks are wide enough to allow the creation of off-carriageway cycle paths (e.g Langsett Road and Sheffield Road).

Where space is more limited, a direct and continuous alternative route must be provided and clearly signed.

Where can I find information about how to ride along tram tracks safely?
Sheffield City CouncilSheffield Hallam University and Sheffield University all provide advice for cycling along tram routes. However, treat with caution as our research shows cycle crashes occurring even when official advice was followed. The only real way to prevent these crashes occurring is to design routes so that people can cycle without coming into contact with the tracks.
 Common misconceptions about tram track accidents
 “If you can’t ride along and not crash on tram tracks you shouldn’t be riding a bike”
If you think this, you’ve obviously not crashed on tram tracks…yet! Our evidence shows that it can happen to anyone regardless of level of experience. It happens to people who’ve been riding in the city for years, people who are new to cycling, people who’ve crashed before, people who mountain bike and people who ride every single day.
Accidents can be prevented by crossing the tracks at right angles
The evidence shows that these accidents can occur whatever angle the tracks are crossed at. Also it is often not possible to cross the tracks at right angles due to track or road curves or the presence of traffic.
 The problem can be solved by rubber infills in the tracks
“Their use cannot be endorsed. Whilst the intention of these ‘infills’ is to address the hazard of cyclist in grooves, in doing so they introduce a wide range of other issues and hazards to other users. This point is supported by trials carried out on tram systems worldwide.”
From Nottingham City Cycling Design Guide

7 thoughts on “Tram Crash: Cycle Crashes on Sheffield’s Tramlines

  1. Can’t report on your form as too long ago, but I crashed twice on the tramlines at Manor Top heading North. I now avoid them completely by heading on the slip towards the top of City Road then waiting for a break in the traffic to cut across back onto the main road. On the way back I go through the car park outside what used to be Netto and across the pedestrian crossings (naughty but saves a crash) and rejoining the main road.

  2. I live in Bremen in North Germany and one way Bremen solved this problem is to let cyclists ride between the tramlines. This means that the trams and other vehicles have to match their speed to that of the cyclists but it has led to less accidents. The problem cyclists have when crossing the tramlines hasn’t been solved though. However, the fact that traffic is generally slower does help.

    1. Hi Viviane, I think the long term solution to this problem is a high quality cycle network so people on bikes do not have to use roads which have tram tracks. The tracks just create too many potential hazards. Obviously this isn’t something that can be built over night. In the short term we’d like to see smaller scale fixes like cycle paths round the back of tram platforms so people on bikes can avoid the narrowing road.

    1. Cheers Jim. I see it concludes ‘To prevent the majority of track-involved injuries, route design measures including dedicated rail rights of way, cycle tracks (physically separated bike lanes), and protected intersections would be the best strategy.’

      This is what we need in Sheffield. The only time cyclists should come into contact with tram tracks is when crossing them at 90 degrees – like this

  3. Hello there. Just came across your website after googling “tram tracks cycle”, which was motivated by crashing myself today in Lisbon (Portugal). The relative unexpectedness of it was that my bike’s tires are actually wider than the track grooves and that I was surely riding below 20 km/h! I confess I belonged to the sect which believed that appropriate biking skills could prevent these accidents…not any more! Definitely have to agree with the proposition here that cycle paths have to be provided.

  4. I crashed twice in the space of 5 minutes of each other!

    I was travelling on a dedicated cycle path off the road on Langsett Rd, but the path suddenly ended with a sign saying “all cyclists this way”. That led onto and over the road near the Aldi on Flora Street. However upon crossing the road there were no further signs as to where I should go so I turned left (to carry on my journey home) but then I was riding on a footpath. Thinking that I shouldn’t be on a footpath I took the next opportunity to get back on the road.
    As I was approaching the Bamford St Tram stop I realised there wasn’t going to be enough room between the platform’s edge and the left hand tramline so I went to cross the tramline to get in the middle of the lane. I’d done this similar manoeuvre just days before with no trouble. However today it was raining. As soon as my tire touched the tram track it slid from under me and I fell onto my right hand side, crushing my leg and banging my hip and skated along for a few feet.

    After having a previous accident slipping on the tram tracks only 5 minutes earlier. I was continuing my journey home and was still stuck on Langsett Rd with not much choice of anywhere else to go. No cycle lanes. The road bends to the right as the tram tracks go straight on outside the Wetherspoons, so you have no choice but to go over the tram tracks again.

    After only just having an accident I was even more careful this time but to no avail. As soon as my tire touched the wet tram track it went from under me again and I was down on my right had side again, banging my hip and crushing my leg again! A few car drivers stopped to ask if i was ok. Luckily I wasn’t hit by any vehicles. I’d slid along a few feet again and had to retrace my steps to collect my paneer which had come off in the fall. This time I couldn’t get back on the bike and cycle as I was in too much pain. I’d literally had the same accident twice in the space of 5 minutes, only doing it the second time was a lot worse!

    I was trialling an E-Cycle on loan from cycleuk in a bid to get healthier and use my car less. The irony that instead, I ended up not being able to ride anymore. It has put me off cycling on Sheffield’s roads until the infrastructure is there and it is safe to cycle. Until major improvements are made, I will not be cycling again in the near future which is really disappointing. I was trying to do a good thing for me and the planet and I feel that I’ve been let down by the utter lack of proper cycling infrastructure and safety.

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