In my experience, crossing railroad tracks can be extremely hazardous. On my first self-supported bicycle trip across the United States, I crashed crossing wet railroad tracks, ending my trip. To help avoid a similar disaster, here are the steps I take to safely cross railroad tracks .
- Slow down – Exercise caution when approaching a railroad crossing.
- Check for Trains – Be sure that there are no trains coming and never cross when the warning lights are flashing.
- Pick the best path – Avoid large ruts that can swallow or damage a wheel.
- Cross perpendicular – Always cross at a 90 degree angle to the rails.
- Slightly lift off the seat – Let your arms and legs absorb some of the shock from the tracks.
- Position the pedals – Level the pedals to a 3 and 9 o’clock position and gently squeeze your saddle with your thighs to stabilize and keep the bike upright.
- Never lean – Leaning the bike from one side or the other while crossing railroad tracks can cause the tires to slide out from under you.
- Slippery when wet. Railroad tracks, and manhole covers for that matter, are extremely slippery when wet.
This video illustrates how danagerous railroad crossing can be, especially when not crossed perpendicularly.