UBC and Ryerson University study links streetcar tracks to bicycle crashes

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      Here's something that should be of interest to Surrey city planners as they think about integrating street-level light rail into their urban landscape.

      A new study by researchers at UBC and Ryerson University has determined that one-third of bike crashes in downtown Toronto were linked to streetcar tracks.

      "This would be a great time to create separated bike and rail lanes," UBC school of population and public health professor Kay Teschke said in a news release. "Physically separated lanes are a wonderful way for two environmentally friendly modes of transportation to run safely together."

      The study was published in BMC Public Health and looked at 276 cycling accidents from May 2008 to November 2009 in downtown Toronto that resulted in hospital visits. Of those crashes, 87 involved the tracks.

      "The vast majority resulted from the bike tire being caught in the rail flangeway (gap in the road surface alongside rails), often when cyclists made unplanned maneuvers to avoid a collision," the researchers wrote. 

      The study noted that bikes "typically had tire widths narrower than the smallest track flangeways".

      "Track crashes were more common on major city streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure, with left turns at intersections, with hybrid, racing and city bikes, among less experienced and less frequent bicyclists, and among women," the researchers stated.

      Surrey city council has advocated for several years for three light-rail lines along King George Highway, 104 Avenue, and Fraser Highway.

      Surrey city council supports the development of three light-rail lines from Surrey Centre to Guildford, Newton, and Langley City.

      According to the TransLink Mayors' Council, this would cost $2.1 billion.

      The line to Guildford would travel along 104 Avenue; the line to Newton would run south along King George Boulevard; and the line to Langley City would go along the Fraser Highway.