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Dutch students design simple insert for tram tracks as part of city competition - if they win, they'll get to test whether it works...

Two Dutch students have come up with a potential design solution to prevent cyclists’ wheels becoming trapped in tram tracks.

Roderick Buijs’ and Ward Kuiters are developing SafeRails, a plastic insert which plugs the gap in the tram rail for cyclists to safely cross, but compresses when a tram drives over it, in response to the dangers tram tracks pose for cyclists in cities around the world, whose wheels can end up stuck in the rails.

SafeRails is the pair's contribution to the Hague Innovators Challenge, a city-wide competition aimed at solving some of the social and environmental problems of city living.

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Buijs said: “When you’re cycling across tram rails you have to take care not to get stuck in the rails. Every Dutchman knows this problem. They have encountered it themselves or know someone who has. That’s why we wanted to find some sort of solution for this problem.”

 

The SafeRail is an asymmetrical insert made from recycled plastic with elastic properties that allow it to repeatedly compress and reform under pressure from passing trams, but will not compress for cyclists. It is not a proven concept yet, but its inventors hope to test it in The Hague and, if it is a success, introduce it further afield, across the Netherlands.

SafeRails is one of 70 submissions to the Hague Innovators Challenge, part of Impact City, a hub that connects entrepreneurs with governments, international companies and research centres, aiming to make a positive impact. SafeRail has now been short listed to the final nine entries, and is currently a close second in the competition with 1,502 votes, behind a car share app, Toogethr. It is possible to vote for a project until 17 January.