This morning, at a half hour past midnight, 20-year-old Benjamin Boyer was riding his bicycle south down Cole Street when his front tire slipped into the groove of the trolley track. He was thrown from his bike and, this being Dallas, he sailed straight into the back of a 2012 Audi.
Boyer had some cuts and bruises but wasn't seriously injured, which is remarkable considering the impact shattered the Audi's rear window and caused $1,500 worth of damage. Boyer was even kind enough to hang around until the cops showed up and give them his real name and contact info so the car's owner could get in touch.
Unless you've been in the saddle, it's hard to understand how easily a crash like this can occur. The same thing happened to me a few months ago, sans the flying-into-a-luxury-car part, thankfully, and I've had several other close calls. The experience is kind of like running through a forest at full speed only to discover the patch of leaves you stepped on is actually concealing a spike-filled pit.
Ride beside the tracks often enough, and you learn to avoid such calamities, but it's tough. Let your attention drift or turn across the tracks at an insufficiently sharp angle, and you'll find yourself on your ass, praying that you don't wind up beneath the wheels of a car behind you.
Other, more heavily biked cities have been grappling with the issue for years. It's a perennial topic of debate in San Francisco. In Toronto, where a streetcar-track crash killed a cyclist last year, some high-traffic rail crossings areequipped with rubber flanges that allow easy passage of bikes. Three years ago in Seattle, a half dozen cyclists sued the city for negligence after crashing on the same stretch of trolley tracks. The suit was ultimately dismissed.
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Dallas has neither the volume of bikers nor the volume of streetcars to make this a serious concern. It's not serious enough, anyway, to justify going around and sticking rubber flanges in the tracks. But the numbers, both of cyclists and streetcars, are growing. As they do, expect more crashes like Boyer's.