Stay safe on your bike: Follow the rail safety rules

With the 6th wave of COVID-19 finally lifting, and life getting back to “normal,” Canadians across the country are looking forward to a much more active summer. For many, that means jumping on their bikes and hitting the road.

Cycling on roads and streets can be challenging, and even risky. But there are many things people can do to stay safe while riding a bike, such as wearing a helmet, cycling defensively, and following the rules of the road. It’s also important that cyclists keep clear of railway tracks and use caution whenever crossing them. If they don’t, it can end in tragedy.

In 2014, a 45-year-old cyclist was hit by a train after riding his bike on the tracks in Salmon Arm, B.C. He reportedly didn’t see the train coming, and remarkably only suffered minor injuries from the incident. But train-bicycle collisions can also happen at legal rail crossings if cyclists aren’t cautious. In June 2020, a 32-year-old cyclist was killed by a train while riding across the tracks in Parry Sound, Ont., even though he was at a crossing with working warning lights and traffic control arms for both vehicles and pedestrians.
Make rail safety part of your cycling checklist

Operation Lifesaver and its partners are working to prevent rail-related incidents from happening by educating cyclists on how to behave near tracks and trains. To stay safe, cyclists must know, and follow, these rules:
  • 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.
  • Go slowly and stand on your pedals to keep your balance as you cross the tracks. 
  • 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.

So, whether you’re cycling to work or out for a leisurely pedal, following the rail safety rules is the only way to ensure a safe ride. Be sure to check out our resource page for more rail safety tips for cyclists.