With or without bike lanes, streetcar and light rail streets attract bicycle traffic. Making these streets safe for people using bikes is critical for preserving local destination access, and is often important for bike network connectivity.
If high-comfort bicycle facilities cannot be implemented on streetcar and light rail streets, parallel high-comfort bicycle routes should be provided in addition to basic destination-access bicycle accommodations on streetcar streets.
Bicycle tires can become stuck in rail flanges when in-street tracks are crossed at too low an angle, causing the bicycle rider to fall. Particular attention must be paid where streetcar tracks bend or turn, where light rail tracks cross a street, or where bicycle lanes or bicycle turning movements cross tracks.
Bicycling adjacent to tracks can also pose dangers, particularly pronounced when a bicyclist must be prepared to swerve to avoid unforeseen obstacles such as opening vehicle doors.
A variety of design techniques can prevent these injury-causing falls by directing bicyclists to cross tracks at higher angles, and by guiding people on bikes to ride a safe distance from rails while riding parallel to them.
Bike-friendly track crossings are applicable wherever streetcar or light rail tracks turn across a bikeway (including any bike lane, bike boulevard, or cycle track), where a bikeway turns across tracks, and at any intersection where bike turns are accommodated, especially where two bike lanes intersect.
Bike-friendly trackway design is applicable to all mixed-traffic streetcar and light rail running ways.
Where bicycle paths of travel cross a street-surface rail track, bicyclists must be directed to cross tracks at a high angle. While 90-degree crossings are preferred, 60 degrees is the minimum design angle for bikeways to cross in-street rails.
Bicyclists must be able to cross tracks fully upright and not leaning, with perpendicular or high-angle approaches established in advance of tracks to allow riders to right themselves.
For more on bicycle networks, see Bicycle Access & Networks.