Bicycle-Friendly Tram Tracks

Have you ever gotten your bicycle wheel caught in the groove of a tram track while riding in Basel? This is unfortunately an all-too-common occurrence in cities that have street cars and can account for a significant proportion of the many serious bicycle accidents. The incident of tram-track-associated bicycle accidents in Basel has only gotten worse in the last few years as Basel has been redesigning many of its busier tram stops. The elevated sidewalks that allow easy direct access to the tram, coupled with the narrower distance between the tram tracks and the sidewalks, often leave the cyclist little room to maneuver. While the stops are clearly more suitable for persons with strollers, shopping trolleys, or wheelchairs, they pose a much greater risks to cyclists.

In an effort to motivate Baslers to use their bicycles instead of cars to keep the city green, while at the same time increasing cyclists’ safety, the city is experimenting with bicycle-friendly tram tracks. These tracks are equipped with a rubber filling that is intended to prevent cyclists from sinking into the track groove and falling. The first bicycle-friendly tram track recently went into operation at the Bruderholzstrasse stop in Basel. With 150 trams passing through this stop daily, the test phase that will take place until the end of 2022, should clarify whether the track can prove itself in everyday operation.

The cyclist-friendly track sections will not be entirely without consequences for tram operations, however, as these tracks cannot be navigated by the vintage trams or the so-called “cornichon” trams because they are too light to press the rubber filling into the track groove.