Nobody wants to fall off their bike and if you’ve ever suffered a serious spill, this video may make for difficult viewing.
Filmed by researchers at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, this compilation of cyclists having terrible days is not mere voyeurism, it’s part of a study published in the Journal of Transport and Health that set out to investigate the causes of single bicycle crashes at railroad grade crossings, or level crossings as we call them in the UK.
Associate professor of civil engineering Chris Cherry was motivated to carry out the research after suffering a fall himself on this particularly awkward crossing, where the tracks slice across the bike path at an especially shallow angle.
He and his colleagues recorded over 50 crashes using a window-mounted camera that overlooked the junction, over a period of just two months in 2014.
It’s not hard to see why there were so many accidents at this crossing point
For their research, the academics focused on 32 incidents which took place on the side of the road and were more clearly visible in the footage.
They compared the crashes to a random sample of 100 successful crossings of the tracks, drawn from a total of over 2,000 cyclists who traversed that particular section.
Unsurprisingly, a rider’s angle of approach to the tracks proved to be the single biggest factor in determining whether or not he or she stayed upright.
It was found that crash rates reduced dramatically at approach angles greater than 30 degrees, and that they were non-existent at angles greater than 60 degrees.
Wet conditions and riding in groups were also identified as risk factors, and for reasons that aren’t totally clear, women were over-represented among those falling.
Matthew Loveridge (formerly Allen) is an experienced mechanic and an expert on bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. Originally a roadie, he likes bikes and kit of every stripe, and he's tested a huge variety of both over the years for BikeRadar, Cycling Plus and others. For a long time Matthew's heart belonged to the Scott Addict, but he's currently enjoying Specialized's sublime Roubaix Expert and having a torrid affair with a Giant Trance e-MTB. At 174cm tall and 53kg, he looks like he should be better at cycling than he actually is, and he's ok with that.