Link to Full Report: Riverside Rail Crossing_preliminary report_final_September 2017
- Before we completed our survey, the City of Asheville had only a few old police reports about problems at this crossing, which illustrates a recurring theme in documenting bicycle injuries from poor infrastructure: most crashes go unreported unless a motorist is involved and the injuries are severe.
- After our survey, the City of Asheville has direct knowledge of 133 unique responses, each describing an incident with a cyclist being harmed at this dangerous railroad crossing.
I was riding at a high speed on my road bike and didn’t expect the rail to be going diagonally across the road. There were cars behind me so I wasn’t able to correct in time because I would have ridden into traffic. My bike went out from under me and I hit my head on the rail (helmet cracked). I stood up and was disoriented. I called for help and went to the ER. – survey respondent
The railroad crossing at 440 Riverside Drive in the River Arts District is widely recognized as extremely hazardous for bicyclists. In July and August 2017, in partnership with Asheville Vice-Mayor Gwen Wisler, AoB conducted a community incident report survey to collect information about bicycle crashes at this crossing. Findings from the survey are summarized in this report, and confirm anecdotal evidence that the crossing poses significant risk to bicyclists of all ability levels, and has caused numerous bicycle crashes that have resulted in physical injury with medical bills up to thousands of dollars, equipment damage, and negative psychological impact. Findings indicate that strong community support exists to improve the safety of the crossing.
I landed on my shoulder, scraped my face and top of my shoulder and broke my elbow. I have permanent elbow mobility problems and recurring pain from the injury. This accident gave me the fear. I used to commute to work but after the accident I haven’t ridden at all. – survey respondent
Google maps of the Riverside Railroad crossing:
These two short videos from other cities illustrate the problem we have in Asheville. The first video is from Knoxville, TN. Many people of who have watched this video, even experienced cyclists, say that they will never look at a railroad crossing the same way again:
And this Streetfilms video, illustrating temporary fixes that help to improve cyclist safety:
In Asheville, our cyclists do not have adequate room to cross at 90 degrees when pedaling northbound, as that requires the cyclist to fully enter the oncoming traffic lane. You can see the problem clearly in the photo on our page, which shows a cyclist attempting to cross safely by swinging out wide, only to end up risking their life in oncoming traffic.
Here are some of the responses to our survey:
“I was unable to safely cross the tracks as it was raining and my tire got caught and I hit the pavement right in front of a car. Lots of road rash and some bruises “
“i had been raining,i tried to angle the tires going across the tracks.the front wheel went right out from under me and i went forward head first. i hurt my wrist,shoulder and leg broke the derailer”
“I could not cross the tracks at a 90 degree angle because a large truck was coming from behind, so I did my best but the bike tire caught in the track and I fell. Broken collar bone and cracked pelvis”
“My front bicycle wheel caught the railroad tracks and I flipped, I landed on my shoulder, scraped my face and top of my shoulder and broke my elbow. I have permanent elbow mobility problems and recurring pain from the injury. ”
“Riding southwards in light rain I failed to anticipate the rail crossing and made a quick turn at the last minute to get closer to 90 degrees. The rear wheel slipped on the first rail, and I came down hard. I think the side of my chest landed on the second, and I was winded for several minutes. A motorist stopped to help. A few minutes later another cyclist fell, but appeared to be unhurt. Cracked rib, bruising. ”
“I was headed south on Riverside Dr, with several cars approaching from the rear, as I signaled to move left and cross the track perpendicular, the first car in line sped to pass, forcing me back to the side of the road. As I crossed the tracks at the less than optimal angle, I caught my wheel in the tracks, went down and skidded several feet on my left side. Abrasions on my left side from shoulder to knee, deep gash on left elbow.”
“My front wheel got stuck in the track and I flipped into the road. Broken radius, 7 stitches across my chin.”
“I was riding at a high speed on my road bike and didn’t expect the rail to be going diagonally across the road. There were cars behind me so I wasn’t able to correct in time because I would have ridden into traffic. My bike went out from under me and I hit my head on the rail (helmet cracked). I stood up and was disoriented. I called for help and went to the ER. I had a neck X-ray and an MRI. No breaks or major issues but significant concussion (directly after the crash I couldn’t remember where I was and kept repeating myself). wasn’t able to work at all the following week. ”
“It was raining lightly and my back wheel slipped. Broke my hand, required surgery. ”
“on my way home from work in the rain, a car was riding my tail and not giving enough space for me to cross wet tracks at a right angle, so I slowed down as much as possible but still crashed. road rash across face, down across chest and shoulder, stitches in the chin, whiplash the next day, called out of work “bent front handle bar and brakes, never fixed, got a new bike, $500. cracked helmet, had a second one. ”
Images of the crossing from 2017: