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 www.tramcrash.co.uk.

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

6 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 http://www.greatgasbeetle.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/My-Movie.mp4?_=1

  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.

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