Streetcars are a wonderful mode of transportation, carrying thousands of people in the cities that have them. They are beloved by transit riders in Toronto where I live (when they are not stuck behind cars). They are hated by drivers (when they are stuck behind streetcars) and they are a worry for cyclists (when they get their wheels stuck in tracks). I have written about how sometimes cyclists and streetcar tracks don't mix. And this is not just a North American problem, an excuse to say "get rid of those streetcars" but is common in the Netherlands and other cities where cyclists and trams mix.
That is why this idea, SafeRails, from students Roderick Buijs and Ward Kuiters is so interesting. It is a submission to the Hague's ImpactCity competition, addressing the common problem of getting stuck in tracks. The inventors write on their site:
SafeRails focusses on developing a profile which can be implemented in existing tramrails’ gutters. The profile will support a parallel cycling bicycle wheel, however it will also let a tram wheel pass without hindrance by deforming elastically. The key-element in this innovation is its simplicity which makes it easy to produce in large lengths.
Due to the elastic and geometric properties of the product, the profile will compress with a passing tram. However, the SafeRail is engineered in such a way that it will support a bicycle wheel without any trouble!
Such a simple and logical solution. It doesn’t have to be used everywhere, but at busy intersections or those tight spots where cyclists are often forced onto tracks, this could prevent a lot of spills. It is already cleaning up in the competition but add your vote here.