A bicycle crash compilation video with more than 165,000 views on YouTube is actually part of a research project by engineers at the University of Tennessee.
The video was the result of a UT civil and environmental engineering professor Chris Cherry growing suspicious over repeated bicycle crashes near his office a few years ago. He set up a camera to see just how dangerous the spot really was.
After reviewing the recording from the John D. Tickle Engineering Building, Cherry’s suspicions were confirmed. Over a period of just two months, the camera captured 53 bicycle crashes where Neyland Drive intersects with a railroad track that runs between downtown Knoxville and the university. Of them, 32 occurred on the shoulder of Neyland Drive and the rest on an adjacent greenway where it crosses the track.
“Sure enough, the first weekend we had the camera up there were three crashes in two days and we realized, ‘Oh, wow, this is actually a pretty high frequency of crashes,’” Cherry told the Knoxville News Sentinel.
Cherry and graduate students Ziwen Ling and Nirbesh Dhakal recently published the findings in a Journal of Transport & Health report.
The findings basically showed the angle of approach to the railroad track had an effect on the crash rate. The rate was significantly lower when the crossing angle was more than 30 degrees, and nonexistent when the angle was more than 60 degrees, the research showed.
“What happens is the bike wheel will fall into that flange, the crack between the rail and concrete,” Cherry told WBIR. “I think one of the main problems is people don’t expect it, and they get blindsided so to speak.”
The research group claims it is the first study to use empirical video data to identify factors on “detailed crossing and crash processes quantitatively.”
The City of Knoxville has since installed signage and reworked the shoulder side to encourage cyclists to approach the rail at a safer angle.