BikePortland

TriMet GM says cyclists should walk across some tracks


Two weeks ago, I shared the story of Sharon Fekety. She crashed her bike while attempting to cross a pair of MAX train tracks at I-205 and W Burnside, which resulted in her left arm being fractured in three places.

Fekety was concerned that her crash was the result of TriMet crews using grease on the tracks to minimize noise and facilitate the sharp turn. After her incident, she sent a letter a TriMet GM Fred Hansen. Here is an excerpt from that letter:

“In order to keep other cyclists from having this same problem, I would like to see some sort of signage or warning to cyclists. Or maybe you could stop greasing the tracks where a cyclist might pass.”

Fekety informed me last night that she has received a response from Hansen. In that response Hansen denies Fekety’s claim of grease being on the tracks. Here is an excerpt from Hansen’s letter:

TriMet GM Fred Hansen
Photo: TriMet

“We do apply an environmentally-friendly lubricant to our tracks to minimize wheel noise as trains travel through tight turns. We do not apply the lubrication…at crossings. The nearest location to where you had your accident that lubricant is applied is at Gateway. Because the application is localized and in this case more than 800 feet away, it is unlikely that the wheels of the train could have carried stray lubricant to the crossing where you had your accident.”

[Download Hansen’s letter here (130kb jpg)]

Hansen’s response runs counter to Fekety’s claim that several witnesses saw TriMet employees applying grease in the exact location where she crashed (and when they asked the crew what they were doing they confirmed they were applying grease).

Hansen goes on to say that, “…we recommend that…cyclists always walk their bicycles over appropriate crossings.”

Fekety is not satisfied with Hansen’s response and plans to write another letter asking him to clarify TriMet’s official position on cyclists crossing tracks, to define “appropriate crossings” and reiterate her desire for new warning signs to be installed.

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