Streetfilms: Sharrows Point the Safe Way to Bike Across Rail Tracks
It's something even the most experienced cyclists do: wipe out while crossing a set of train tracks. When you ride across rails, you need to maneuver your bike's angle of approach so that you hit the tracks as perpendicularly as possible. But even knowing that, some riders don't slow down enough to sashay properly, and newbies have no idea how the angles work until it's too late!
In Seattle, they're trying something I've never seen before that goes beyond the usual warning signs. The DOT is using "sharrows" and markings to visually guide cyclists through these crossings. Anecdotally, it seems to work well. I found it reassuring that my path was predetermined as I approached, instead of having to guesstimate. Stay within the lines, and all will be good.
But as John Mauro from the Cascade Bicycle Club points out, this is only an interim solution to filling in the missing link in the famous Burke-Gilman Trail. Families out cycling for the day shouldn't have to contend with dangerous sets of tracks in the first place. Still, it's nice to see that DOTs all across the country are getting creative and using cost effective solutions (just a few marks with paint) to keep us a little safer.