Make rail safety part of your cycling checklist

Spring is finally here— and for cyclists, that means it’s time to dust off the bike and hit the roads and bike paths. But for cyclists, making sure you know how to stay safe around railway tracks is just as important as getting a spring tune-up on your bike—because not knowing, or abiding by, the rail safety rules can lead to tragedies.

In August 2022, a 31-year-old cyclist died after being hit by a GO train in Guelph, Ont. The cyclist ignored the flashing lights and bells at a crossing, and rode around lowered safety gates before being struck by a passing train.

In July 2008, a 12-year-old boy was killed in Woodstock, Ont. while trying to ride his bike across the tracks. He and another boy had been waiting at a railway crossing for a train to pass. After it did, they went around the lowered safety gates, not realizing that another train was coming in the opposite direction. One of the boys made it across, but the other boy was struck and killed by the train.

Staying safe starts with knowing the rail safety rules

Cycling on roads and streets can be challenging, and even risky. Whether you’re cycling to work or out for a leisurely pedal, following these rail safety rules is the only way to ensure a safe ride:
  • Only cross railway tracks at designated crossings.
  • At crossings, slow down, look both ways, and listen for approaching trains. Cross only if you’re sure it’s safe to do so.
  • Cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle, or as close to it as possible.
  • Lift out of your saddle, stand on your pedals, and slowly coast across the tracks so that you keep your balance. 
  • Be aware: rails can be very slippery when wet. It’s safest to get off your bike and cross the tracks on foot if it’s been raining.

Be sure to check out our resource page for more rail safety tips for cyclists.