"Riding made simple. The choice to ride a bike is yours. The responsibility to ensure safe and convenient riding opportunities is ours. "
--People for Bikes
For the second time since April, a Santa Fe bicyclist has inexplicably ridden into a Railrunner train where the tracks cross a sidepath or sidewalk. Both of these fatalities occurred in broad daylight, with good visibility up and down the tracks, and based on current reports, in both cases the lights and gates at the adjacent road crossing were working properly and well within the line of sight of cyclists or pedestrians. As, presumably, would be a train. See photo below.
I'm still not convinced that it is a good idea for DOT to neglect putting lights or crossing guards on sidepaths for what now might be obvious reasons, but I fear something else is going on here.
For a few years now, some advocacy groups have been telling cyclists they need safer accommodations (and in many cases, I cannot argue with that!). Published journal articles, although some seriously critiqued (see John Allen's site for details), tell cyclists there is safety in numbers and safety in separated infrastructure. Perhaps this is having a bit of an unintended consequence, to wit, a message that safety does not have to be a cyclist's personal value, but is a commodity provided to the cyclist by advocates, infrastructure, and government. Easily chewed or swallowed whole.
Maybe its because I'm a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor, or maybe because I've been riding on roads and trails for 35 years (more, if you count childhood riding and motorcycling), but I think most of safety resides in that space between the earlobes. Nothing against good infrastructure, advocacy, and programs. I gave a thumbs-up to Santa Fe's Silver level Bicycle-Friendly Community application for its efforts at solving some vexing problems through the strategic use of separate pathways. I've also supported (actually pushed for), warts and all, any possible extension of the Canyon Rim Trail to provide better connectivity between Townsite, the new Smith's Marketplace mall, and Airport Basin since improvements on NM502 seem to be going nowhere, fast and all the on-road "improvements" I reviewed during the Trinity Corridor project seemed to make things more complex rather than safer. That said, the external stuff like infrastructure and enforcement is not enough on its own. Safety has to be internalized.
In a comment, John Allen suggested a possible mechanical (brakes). Or, perhaps, gross inattention. Someone commented in the New Mexican that with at most only 17 trains per day vs. thousands of cars, people discount the train. But timing is everything. Please maintain your situational awareness, your cycling skills, and your gear, and let's be careful out there. You can examine a crash video multiple times, but you can't do a "rewind" on real life.
|What I assume was the cyclist line of approach, headed W. on N. side sidewalk on St. Michael's Drive|
Click photo for full size version of picture.
Acknowledgements to Jerry Merkey for the photo.