TeamCBC Cycling Tip – How to Safely Ride Across Railroad Tracks

You almost can’t ride anywhere in North Carolina without having to cross a railroad track. The condition of these tracks varies widely. Therefore, you have to approach each one cautiously.

Recently, I almost went down after hitting some difficult tracks and a couple of our teammates did go down. Although I know how to cross safely, I failed one important step.

Please make sure you follow the following rules when crossing railroad tracks:

  1. Check that no trains are approaching. Not all crossings have signals or barriers.
  2. Signal the riders behind you that tracks are ahead by putting your arm behind you, forming a peace sign with your fingers, and moving your arm up and down.
  3. If you are at the front, announce which way the group will cross. “Left to Right!” means the group will start from the left to cross the tracks at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Slow down. If the tracks are wet, really slow down.
  5. Signal that you’re slowing by putting your arm down with your palm facing backward.
  6. Stand up to absorb the bumps easier
  7. Place your pedals at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions
  8. Coast as you go over the tracks
  9. Try to find the smoothest section
  10. Grip your handlebars tightly and stay focused

I followed all these rules except for #2. The tracks were crossing the road at almost a 45-degree angle and I did not approach it at a 90-degree angle. When I hit the wet tracks, my front wheel went sideways. At first, I thought, “If I’m going down, I’m heading for the grass.” Fortunately, I was able to muscle it back straight and stay upright.

Here is an article from that demonstrates the proper way the cross.

Stay safe!

Rick Bunnell

President, TeamCBC