It is mighty irritating that the 40-something cyclist who died in Toronto on Monday (see Star story here) fell because his wheel was jammed into disused street car tracks.
According to the Star item, the tracks hadn't been used since the 1980s. Basically, they've been sitting there for nearly 30 years waiting for someone to make a wrong move.
This guy did make a wrong move, went down hard and hit his head. He was essentially dead at the scene. Much will be made, I suspect, of the fact that we wasn't wearing a helmet. I'm all for protective equipment (I wear a helmet), but the protective equipment argument can be taken to extremes. Should everyone going to a nightclub wear Kevlar vests, or should we just search patrons for handguns?
Should we all wear helmets, or should we make the roadway environment safe for users? Riding Toronto streets where there are a lot of streetcar tracks is a real obstacle course. I try to cross rail lines at a 90-degree angle, but in some downtown areas of Toronto, a rider would have to have the handlebars in constant motion to weave through the labyrinth of lines.
Perhaps riders should stay clear of the worst areas. Perhaps the city should look to "deactivate" unused rail lines, so they aren't a hazard.