Bicycle rider involved in collision with WES commuter train in Tualatin

wes-collision-location

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.”

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Here’s a look at that location from above…

wes-aerial

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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Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

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Ted Timmons (Contributor)

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

Adam
8 years ago

That crossing should have an automatic gate.

Alex
Alex
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

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

Spiffy
8 years ago
Reply to  Alex

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

Alex
Alex
8 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

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

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

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

Paul Cole
Paul Cole
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

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

http://bikeportland.org/2015/09/29/trimet-adjusts-orange-line-crossing-plans-after-community-opposition-163836

Is that from a different Adam H.?

Adam
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul Cole

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

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

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.

bjorn
bjorn
8 years ago

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?

Bankerman
Bankerman
8 years ago
Reply to  bjorn

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……

Spiffy
8 years ago
Reply to  Bankerman

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…

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  bjorn

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???

Mike Sanders
Mike Sanders
8 years ago

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.

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  Mike Sanders

They are not required by law NO.

Kel
Kel
8 years ago

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.

Dwaine Dibbly
Dwaine Dibbly
8 years ago

Was the train operator wearing a helmet?

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  Dwaine Dibbly

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

Mike Quiglery
Mike Quiglery
8 years ago

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!

Doug
Doug
8 years ago

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.

9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Agreed.

It would be interesting to try to get some inter-country comparisons of these sorts of injuries, normalized to train miles or something like that.

canuck
canuck
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

Here’s an article from 2011.

https://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/comparative-rail-safety/

Scraped off the base numbers

COUNTRY Billion Passenger KM/death
China 55.3
Japan 51.4
EU 12.8
South Korea 6.7
India 6.6
US 3.4

9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  canuck

Thanks. Really interesting

Adam
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

In Western Europe, there are very few at-grade crossings of heavy rail. Compare that to the US which has almost all heavy rail crossings at grade.

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Care to provide a source for that?

jeff
jeff
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

just trust him, he knows everything and has seen all of western Europe.

Chris I
Chris I
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

That is true for HSR, but grade crossings are common for slower lines.

Spiffy
8 years ago
Reply to  Doug

“I can’t justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for gate crossings for sidewalks.”

do you justify it for roads?

JeffS
JeffS
8 years ago
Reply to  Spiffy

If I was going to make the case, I would point out that an automobile on the track endangers not only the driver, but every passenger on the train and anyone else who might be injured by a derailment.

Protecting people from the mistakes of others certainly elicits more empathy than protecting people from their own mistakes. Just my 2 cents.

lop
lop
8 years ago
Reply to  JeffS

Yea it can be pretty bad when a train hits a car at speed.

http://nypost.com/2015/02/03/metro-north-train-collides-with-2-cars-causing-massive-explosion/

This crossing had swing gates though. They aren’t exactly foolproof.

Steven Soto
Steven Soto
8 years ago

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.

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  Steven Soto

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

wsbob
wsbob
8 years ago
Reply to  meh

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.

JeffS
JeffS
8 years ago
Reply to  Steven Soto

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

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  Steven Soto

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.

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago

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

~J~
~J~
8 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

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.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  Granpa

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

http://www.npr.org/2015/05/10/405694832/in-palo-altos-high-pressure-schools-suicides-lead-to-soul-searching

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/12/the-silicon-valley-suicides/413140/

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.

Dave
Dave
8 years ago
Reply to  Granpa

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

Dave
Dave
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave

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

Middle of the Road guy
Middle of the Road guy
8 years ago

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

Nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago

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.

9watts
9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

“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.

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

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

Middle of the Road guy
Middle of the Road guy
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

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.

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

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.

lop
lop
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

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

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago
Reply to  lop

Straw man argument.

Which person’s life is not worth saving?

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

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.

soren
soren
8 years ago

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

9watts
9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

‘know nothing about the circumstances’
Really?
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.

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

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?

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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

9watts
9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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.

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

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.

9watts
9watts
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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.

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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?

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago

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.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)

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

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago
Reply to  9watts

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

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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.

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  meh

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

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  meh

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.

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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.

soren
soren
8 years ago
Reply to  meh

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).

meh
meh
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812101.pdf

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

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Reply to  soren

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

El Biciclero
El Biciclero
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

“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.

Mike
Mike
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

Who is the victim and who is getting blamed?

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

Granpa
Granpa
8 years ago
Reply to  soren

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.

Buzz
Buzz
8 years ago

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

😮

Paul Cole
Paul Cole
8 years ago

Adam H.
WES is not a tram. It is heavy rail, which in Europe is nearly always grade-separated.
Recommended 0

Picture on my linked post looks like a big train to me.

Adam
8 years ago
Reply to  Paul Cole

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.

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  Adam

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?

paikiala
paikiala
8 years ago
Reply to  Bill H

Bill,
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?

Bill H
Bill H
8 years ago
Reply to  paikiala

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.

Jules
Jules
8 years ago

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.

Demomode
Demomode
8 years ago

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.