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Bicycle rider involved in collision with WES commuter train in Tualatin

Posted by on February 23rd, 2016 at 8:51 pm

View of path where the collision occurred. View is standing on SW Boones Ferry Road south of Tualatin-Sherwood Road.
(Google map)

A man riding a bicycle was involved in a collision with a TriMet WES Commuter Rail train south of Tualatin this evening. It happened just before 5:30 pm.

TriMet hasn’t released any official details other than to warn WES riders of a service delay.

KGW TV has just reported the name of the man who was hit as 48-year-old Timothy Nester. He’s currently at OHSU and it’s not known how severe his injuries are.

Here’s more from KGW:

“… it appears Nester attempted to cross a pedestrian crossing south of the intersection of Southwest Boones Ferry Road and Tualatin-Sherwood Road, Pickering said.

A 911 caller reported the train operator sounded the horn before the collision. Flashing lights were also working properly, Pickering said.”

Here’s a look at that location from above…


We heard from a man who was a passenger on the train. He said Nester’s bicycle was removed from the front of the train at around 6:45 pm. “Train crew seemed very subdued. Seems like the worst.” he wrote.

We’ll update this story as we learn more.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 23, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks for starting this. I’m curious to see what happened.

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  • Adam H. February 23, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    That crossing should have an automatic gate.

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    • Alex February 24, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Why? Are flashing lights, bells and horns not enough? At some point people need to take responsibility for themselves.

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      • Spiffy February 24, 2016 at 11:27 am

        so it’s cool if we take the automatic gates off of roads?

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        • Alex February 24, 2016 at 11:39 am

          Under this argument maybe we should also install them at every crosswalk and corner too.

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        • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:34 pm

          If the gates were broken off, would you just blatantly cross without looking when the lights were flashing??

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    • Paul Cole February 24, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      “Somehow, people in Europe manage to not get hit by trams. Why are we so special that we need gates to protect ourselves?”


      Is that from a different Adam H.?

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      • Adam H. February 24, 2016 at 3:35 pm

        WES is not a tram. It is heavy rail, which in Europe is nearly always grade-separated.

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        • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:37 pm

          Many, many xings in Europe are at grade and some with one flashing red light. Crossing when it’s flashing is at your own risk and if struck, you have no case for damages or medical restitution. They are educated well over there with respect to trains. Ask anyone from Europe visiting here and they will tell you the signage and warning systems here are ridiculous.

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  • bjorn February 23, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    I don’t understand why all at grade train track crossings don’t have swing arms. Those stupid gates on the orange line are ridiculous, and this crossing has nothing. If you are already activating lights which supposedly they were why not swingarms too?

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    • Bankerman February 24, 2016 at 12:02 am

      Of course; bright flashing lights (this was at 5:30pm) and a train horn you can hear a half mile away is certainly not enough. Note also the bend in the path which is designed to turn the person’s orientation such that they will look down the track right-of-way and see an approaching train. But of course a bicyclist is never in the wrong……

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      • Spiffy February 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

        or is the bend such that it turns you away form an approaching train? I’m not sure which way the train or the bike were traveling…

        to me it looks like the bend is for ADA compliant access to the sidewalk…

        they obviously weren’t 100% or they would have avoided the train…

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    • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Why does a pedestrian xing with lights, bells, AND extremely loud horns need gates as well? Why……because some peds are to ignorant to look both ways???

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  • Mike Sanders February 23, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Aren’t swing gates required by Federal law? Seems to me that location should have them. Swing gates would also work better on those Orange Line crossings than the manual gates they’re using.

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    • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      They are not required by law NO.

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  • Kel February 24, 2016 at 12:33 am

    I saw this happen, there are swing arms etc.. A few feet up from this spot on the main road but this spot is a back sidewalk near plaid pantry. The WES is so loud that when trying to order McDonald’s across the street in drive through we must stop and wait to talk from the blaring horns, there are a million lights and signs on this path to look both ways and the Wes is pretty slow at this point it is just starting to speed up from the main stop in Tualatin! I figured there was a suicide when I saw it bc it is nearly impossible to be hit accidentally here! I heard this poor guy moaning as the paramedics were assisting him and my 3 kids were traumatized.

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  • Dwaine Dibbly February 24, 2016 at 5:07 am

    Was the train operator wearing a helmet?

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    • meh February 24, 2016 at 7:17 am

      Probably not, but then again the driver didn’t ignore flashing lights a train horn and common sense when crossing railroad tracks.

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  • Mike Quiglery February 24, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Here we go again. Blame everything on the train and gate. Like blaming all the traffic stuff on ODOT. Bicycle riders really, really can be as stupid as vehicle drivers. Really, the can!

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  • Doug February 24, 2016 at 6:04 am

    Sorry when any cyclist is injured and I hope for the best, but you have to assume the train had the right of way.

    Why is it the first reaction of some is to blame infrastructure when simply watching where you are going would prevent 99% of train vs pedestrian, cyclist, motor vehicle accidents. You see train tracks you look for a train. How can that be the fault of infrastructure? Train tracks are very tricky (often wet steel) in general all the more reason for extreme care.

    I see news stories all the time where some fool was listening to their I phone and walk in front of a train. Darwin rules.

    If you fell on the tracks maybe you have something but that’s a 90 degree crossing. Sorry. I can’t justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for gate crossings for sidewalks. Not just to ensure the safety of people that don’t use their MK I eyeball. Watch where you are going! Take some responsibility for your own safety or don’t and suffer the consequences.

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  • Steven Soto February 24, 2016 at 7:10 am

    I agree with others here. This is the second time in a few years that someone was hit by a WES train, and I suspect that the root cause was the same – listening to headphones at an extreme volume.

    After the first incident (a skateboarder), they installed speakers with artificial train horns at each road crossing. These sound when the light turn on and the gates drop. I do not know if there are speakers at the pedestrian crossing, but this is very close to the Tualatin-Sherwood crossing, and it would very hard not to hear. Just as an aside, there is another pedestrian crossing about half a mile north at Tualatin Road near Tualatin Commons Park, and that ped crossing does have swing arms.

    My guess is hearing impairment, headphones, and/or utter carelessness on the part of the bicyclist, but most likely headphones.

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    • meh February 24, 2016 at 7:15 am

      Headphones don’t impair vision. There are flashing lights at that crossing. Utter carelessness.

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      • John Lascurettes February 24, 2016 at 10:36 am

        If the WES horn is as loud as people are saying (I’ve never heard it), the rider would have to have been listening with a level of music that would be ear-damagingly loud to drown our a train horn. … Provided he was wearing buds at all. I highly doubt this rider was 100% unaware of the approaching train. Was it a purposeful risk taken or something else? I’ll never know.

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        • wsbob February 25, 2016 at 10:46 am

          Compared to light rail trains, the WES is a big, stinky, noisy train.

          Out in Beaverton, I live near both the MAX and WES lines at Canyon Rd, Broadway, and Farmington. The WES’s horn definitely sounds much louder than that of the light rail trains. Seeing it pass by, WES seems comparatively much bigger, as in taller. It’s trains are kind of stinky and often dirty because of their being diesel fueled.

          Never ridden it. Maybe doing so would give me more of a sense that the service it’s offering, is worth its downsides. As is, it’s drudgery waiting for the WES to complete its crossing. To me, the WES’s general presence in Beaverton seems something considerably less than wonderful.

          Some people are very careless about crossing tracks in front of approaching trains. The ‘Can I make it?…sure I can.’ challenge.

          Pictures in this story of the WES’s crossing in Tualitin, show the crossing to offer excellent views of the track in either direction. If the person on his bike, struck by the WES, was struck despite due precautions he’d taken, let’s hear what were the precautions he used to try avoid being struck by the train.

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    • JeffS February 24, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      I’m not a fan of this sort of speculation.

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    • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      The only reason for the gate arms at Tualatin Rd is because of line of sight restrictions, and the FRA required them due to this visual hindrance.

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  • Granpa February 24, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Suicide by train happens in Germany frequently. By son works for Deutchbahn and it really messes with the minds of rail employees.

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    • ~J~ February 24, 2016 at 8:51 am

      That happened to me a couple of times when I lived over there and got around by train. Once in Germany, and another when riding the TGV in France. The train stopped and after the initial panic, the conductors were very subdued and depressed. I also had a high school classmate commit suicide by driving around the gate and purposefully stopping on the tracks. I’m inclined to believe this was either extreme negligence or a suicide attempt, but until the investigation is over none of us will really know. I’m hoping everyone involved can heal cleanly and quickly.

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    • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 24, 2016 at 9:01 am

      Happens in California too. This was an interesting (and sad) read:



      I don’t think it’s related to this, though. Nor can we completely blame earbuds and that damn rock music kids these days listen to.

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    • Dave February 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

      That sounds horrible; I can’t even imagine what that would feel like.

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      • Dave February 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

        That is, I can’t imagine what that feels like for railroad employees!!

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  • Middle of the Road guy February 24, 2016 at 8:33 am

    You can’t out-engineer bad decision making and a willingness to act on it.

    Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

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    • paikiala February 24, 2016 at 11:24 am

      While it is true that road users will forever make mistakes, it is not true that those mistakes need end in death or serious injury.
      A short gate at this location ($30k?) could have prevented this death, or at least made it more clear of the cyclist’s choice.
      In benefit cost analysis, a low average societal valuation of a person’s life is about $2M. even if the gate cost $100k, the return on investment would be 20. Most projects get green lighted for much lower ROIs.

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      • 9watts February 24, 2016 at 12:09 pm

        “A short gate at this location ($30k?) could have prevented this death, or at least made it more clear of the cyclist’s choice.”

        Maybe. If we go down this path, though, when do we call it good? How many layers of safety device is enough? When are the safety devices themselves so cumbersome and/or redundant that they make things less safe, statistically?

        Hans Monderman’s perspective comes to mind.

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        • paikiala February 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm

          Like…protected bike lanes? Protected intersections? Buffers for everyone!
          Here’s an echo “either or is a false choice”.

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      • Middle of the Road guy February 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

        But that is money that might be better spent elsewhere and have more benefits.

        The opportunity cost to prevent someone from acting on a bad decisions is too great. And that crossing seems to work just fine for everyone else.

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      • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 5:54 pm

        You’re surmising this cyclist wouldn’t have gone around the gates anyway. With the warning apparatuses currently in place and at a cost of 75k already, adding another 50k may or may not have saved him. We cannot spend ourselves into debt in attempt to prevent bad decision making. Most of us have NO problem NOT being struck.

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      • lop February 24, 2016 at 7:08 pm

        ROI is 20 if you have to build one gate to save one life. If you have to build 50 gates per life saved…

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        • paikiala February 25, 2016 at 2:24 pm

          Straw man argument.

          Which person’s life is not worth saving?

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          • Bill H February 25, 2016 at 4:22 pm

            paikiala, There is no argument, You can’t save those who won’t make an effort for the potential to be safe to start. People should save their own hides when 99% of that responsibility is on that person crossing.

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  • soren February 24, 2016 at 9:07 am

    The victim blaming and lack of empathy on this thread from people who know nothing about the circumstances is disgusting

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    • 9watts February 24, 2016 at 9:22 am

      ‘know nothing about the circumstances’
      I think some of them probably know as much as we all know about the circumstances, which is that at this location there are a bunch of cues suggesting to anyone hoping to cross there that they should anticipate a train, and if one is approaching to yield the right of way.

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      • soren February 24, 2016 at 10:39 am

        the refrain that he was stupid, careless, or wearing headphones is not different from the reaction of oregonian commenters to a cycling crash. this person has friends and family. do you really think they deserve to read about the victim’s stupidity now?

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        • soren February 24, 2016 at 10:42 am

          i see the victims is also a “fool” according to empathetic bike portland commenters…

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        • 9watts February 24, 2016 at 10:59 am

          A train that as in this instance is running ‘behind’ barriers that in this culture we recognize as signs of a very particular sort of scheduled/periodic danger is I think rather different from what we normally think of as a cyclist crash where , typically, someone in a car (that is not running on tracks and therefore much less predictable) runs into or over someone on a bike who it is their responsibility to see/not run over/etc.

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          • soren February 24, 2016 at 11:29 am

            my point was not about the circumstances but about lack of empathy and the use of demeaning language. even if this serious injury crash is due to mental illness, disability, or inattention, the victim and his friends of family deserve better treatment.

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            • 9watts February 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm

              Well in fairness to the sequence of comments suggesting maybe it was the guy’s fault or intention to get hit, they were at least in part a response to those who immediately started blaming the infrastructure.

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            • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 7:09 pm

              Why is there always someone assuming the relatives or friends of the victim would care to read the comments of a story and if so, would pay any attention to them?

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 24, 2016 at 8:44 pm

                Because it happens quite often on this site Bill H. Family and friends of victims find these stories and – even though they want to turn away from them — they often feel a need to learn anything and everything they can about the crash. I know this because I’ve heard it directly from victims’ families.

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                • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm

                  I’m sure it does happen, but I have asked this question a few times. The response I received was they would expect this on a open online commentary forum, but typically they would choose to speak with family or friends of the victim to learn more. One has to weigh the good and what might consider offensive when reading comments of the general public. They are opinions.

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                • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 24, 2016 at 10:26 pm

                  Thankfully, BillH, bikeportland has a civility policy for comments, so they aren’t scary and abusive as elsewhere.

                  The problem with “don’t read the comments” is we shouldn’t have out-of-control comment sections everywhere. If some soft moderation is necessary to keep it that way, great. It’s better than them simply becoming a sewer where people say “well, that’s what you get for reading the comments”.

                  Anil Dash said something similar, but he’s much better with words. https://medium.com/@anildash/against-don-t-read-the-comments-aee43ce515b9

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          • paikiala February 24, 2016 at 1:05 pm

            Except of course there are not gates at the bike crossing, so it was not behind a barrier in this case.

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    • meh February 24, 2016 at 9:25 am

      No one is blaming the train operator for anything. He’s going to live with this for a long time even though he couldn’t have done a thing to avoid it. It rough being the victim of someones carelessness.

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      • soren February 24, 2016 at 9:35 am

        Apparently “meh” has never once been careless in their life.

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        • meh February 24, 2016 at 11:08 am

          Big difference between careless and reckless. I took a lot of effort to ignore the warning signals.

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          • soren February 24, 2016 at 11:37 am

            so you know for a fact that the signals worked properly?

            rail companies and rail agencies are notorious for not taking “at grade crossing” safety seriously.

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            • meh February 24, 2016 at 1:29 pm

              The witness statement in the article stating that the lights were working and the horn on the train was sounding doesn’t mean a thing.

              It’s never the cyclists fault with you is it? If one article appeared in this blog that actually turned a critical eye inward it would be refreshing. It gets tiring listening to how horrible it is out there on two wheels, particularly when no one on a bike can do wrong. Safe roads require everyone to act in a safe manner.

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              • soren February 25, 2016 at 7:19 am

                it’s interesting that you insist on discussing blame when my comment was solely about empathy … about human decency.

                if you were a family member of a severely injured young man would you want to read that your son/brother was a “fool” or “stupid”?

                Safe roads require everyone to act in a safe manner.

                false equivalence. vulnerable traffic does not kill tens of thousands (automobiles) or hundreds (trains).

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                • meh February 25, 2016 at 8:52 am

                  Go look at the stats of those tens of thousands killed, most are the occupants of the vehicles. But that truth is never mentioned when the statistics are bandied about in this blog. It’s always made out to be murderous drivers running over nuns and orphans on the roads day in and day out.

                  Here’s the stats for 2013 motor vehicle deaths

                  Vehicle occupants 21779
                  Large Trucks 697
                  Motorcyclists 4986
                  Pedestrian 4818
                  Cyclist 734
                  Unknown 227

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                • Ted Timmons (Contributor) February 25, 2016 at 8:59 am

                  meh, Vision Zero is about *all* fatalities. Lower speeds benefit all.

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                • El Biciclero March 2, 2016 at 4:40 pm

                  “most are the occupants of the vehicles”

                  Death by car is death by car. How many of the vehicle occupants killed were in the vehicle of the at-fault driver? How many vehicle occupants were killed due to negligence on the part of someone in a different vehicle?

                  Regardless of who gets killed, those doing the killing are almost exclusively bad drivers.

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    • Mike February 24, 2016 at 10:41 am

      Who is the victim and who is getting blamed?

      There seems to be a lot of empathy for the train conductor.

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    • Granpa February 24, 2016 at 11:20 am

      It was I who introduced the notion that suicide occurs on train lines. You are correct that nothing is known about the circumstances, including you with your assumption that the deceased is a victim and not the collision perpetrator.

      That said if the deceased was clinically depressed and used the transportation system to end his life it is a terrible thing for all involved. Just because I recognize it may be suicide does not mean I am callous to the tragedy.

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  • Buzz February 24, 2016 at 9:33 am

    TriMet has some extra swing gates they could install here….


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  • Paul Cole February 24, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Adam H.
    WES is not a tram. It is heavy rail, which in Europe is nearly always grade-separated.
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    Picture on my linked post looks like a big train to me.

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    • Adam H. February 24, 2016 at 4:01 pm

      In that case, the swing gates were installed for MAX, not for the “big train”. Even today, there are no automated gate arms for the ped crossing of the UPRR tracks, and there really should be.

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      • Bill H February 24, 2016 at 6:05 pm

        If people are not able to protect themselves from a moving train with all the warnings, I’m sorry, but no ‘swing gates’ as you call them, are going to save them. Too much intervention to the point people think they need someone there to hold their hand to cross the street anymore. Where does it end? Does anyone take responsibility for their actions anymore. We played in the streets when we were kids, but we sure as hell got out of the way of two ton of steel when it approached…..so how difficult is it to follow the law, and stop at a crossing for 160 tons?

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        • paikiala February 25, 2016 at 2:27 pm

          Way back then, was the driver of that car regularly going 5 or 10 mph over the posted/statutory speed? Or were they driving appropriately for the context?

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          • Bill H February 25, 2016 at 4:28 pm

            paikiala, I lived in a rural area with a straight stretch where vehicles regularly hauled @ss. We rode our bicycles on this road and we walked home from school on this road. We listened for them and watched out for our neighbors and siblings. What does this have to do with a 30mph train passing this PED xing and an individual riding his bicycle in front of it with far more warning than we ever had? Street smart or grill mark was how we thought.

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  • Jules March 2, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Sorry I’m so late to the game but I just saw this thread. I was on that train and it was a sickening jolt and thud when he was hit and his bike went underneath the train. The train of course stopped immediately and all the crew went into action until the police et al showed up on the scene. They wouldn’t let anyone off the train for two hours while they did their investigation so I can’t give you details of the mans condition himself. But I ride this wes everyday and can assure you that the conductor is excellent, and yes, all the horns lights and bells were in action before the train even took off as is the custom and there’s no way he could’ve missed them unless he chose to, wanted to beat it, or was impaired.

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  • Demomode March 29, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    This fellow was arrested for DUI in the hospital. All of the QZ treatments and crossing warnings were working for the pedestrian crossing and on the train.

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