When I was living in Detroit, there was an intense debate over where to place the tracks of a new streetcar on Woodward Avenue in the city’s downtown. Running them along the curb of the road presents more of a risk to bicyclists, one line of thinking went. It’s not fun traveling over rail, and a new study—and video—shows exactly why.
The finding, published in the Journal of Transport & Health, was the product of an experiment of sorts conducted by Chris Cherry, a civil engineering associate professor at the University of Tennessee whose study was highlighted by CityLab. It began a few years ago, CityLab explains, after he fell off his bike while traveling over a railroad crossing in Knoxville to get to a football game.
Shortly after, Cherry was contacted by his department head, who happened to see a bad accident from his office window at the same crossing. In this case, the rider was carted away by EMTs. The department head asked him why he wasn’t doing anything about it. “I said, ‘Well, nobody’s done any research on it, and I don’t have funding at the moment for that,’” Cherry says. “But he shamed me into it. He said, ‘So somebody’s injured now because you didn’t have the time?’ I said, ‘OK, if you put it that way, I’ll do something about it—if you give me your window with a view.”
The result is a compilation of more than 50 people eating shit at the same railroad crossing over the course or two months, and it’s a punishing watch if you know what it’s like to faceplant like some of these riders captured on film.
CityLab gives an extensive, fascinating rundown of the study’s details, and it’s worth your while to give it a read, but our headline said you’d find footage of people eating shit, so we’ll leave you with that, an excruciating four-minute clip of wobbly bikes and riders collapsing to the ground.