How to avoid being killed by a train on your next bike ride

Whether or not the weather reflects it, today is the first day of spring. And with the long Canadian winter over for another year, we can look forward to warmer weather activities – like heading out for a bike ride.

Before you climb onto your bike for the first time this year, take a few minutes to refresh your rail safety knowledge. Narrow bicycle tires pose unique challenges when crossing train tracks, so it’s important to know exactly what you should do when you encounter them on a bike ride.

Here are some key lifesaving rail safety tips to remember on your next bike ride:

To cross tracks as safely and comfortably as possible:

  •  Slow down
  • Stop pedaling
  • Put your cranks in a position horizontal to the ground
  • Lift off your saddle
  • Flex your arms and legs to absorb the shock
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars (do not signal as you cross the tracks). Another option is to put a foot down and ease your self over the track. You may choose this method when traffic is heavy and you cannot negotiate room to pull out into traffic, or when the tracks are wet from rain.

In the case of multiple railway tracks, you can also choose to pull over to the curb, dismount and cross the tracks as a “pedestrian”.

On metal, as with wet leaves or oil—coast and steer straight. Putting force on the pedal or steering away from a straight line can cause the wheels to skid.

Remember the only safe and legal place to crossing train tracks is at a designated level crossing.

For even more tips on how to stay safe near the tracks, check out our Rail Safety Tip Sheet for Cyclists (PDF).