How to cross streetcar tracks

Kenneth Rosskopf of is known in the cycling community as the guy to call if you crash your bike. Here are his tips, based on extensive experience, for crossing streetcar tracks.

Even incredibly bike-friendly cities like Portland have struggled with making streetcar tracks safe for bikes. Here's a thread worth checking out from Bike Portland.  

Based upon my personal experience, the standard advice for crossing tracks safely by setting up a better angle is flawed. 

The majority of rail caused crashes that I have seen have been due to the slippery, flat, top portion of the rail, especially in damp conditions. 

Telling a rider to improve their angle works okay to avoid the wheel grabbing slot, but not to avoid track slipperiness.  In fact, it may decrease the rider's chances for a safe crossing across damp/wet rails because the rider is likely to be turning to set up or get out of the "better angle" for crossing. 

Any turning moment on a damp track causes the wheels to slide toward the outside of the turn, slamming the rider to the pavement. 

I prefer to advise that people, when approaching tracks, shift their weight to the back of the saddle, hold their handlebars straight and firm, and maintain their speed. 

Without any turning moment, the bike and rider will proceed across the tracks safely.