Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Pedestrians & GO Trains

As anyone who came in from the northwest today knows, a pedestrian was hit by an inbound Milton train near the Strachan Ave crossing. Whenever someone is injured or killed in a collision, it is a tragedy without a doubt, and my sympathies go out to the family. However, I find it difficult to understand how someone can be struck by a train. They are big, loud and highly visible. There are education programs to teach kids the dangers of railroads, and a section on railway crossings is part of the driver education program. Clearly, the message isn't getting out, and we need to do something more. Here are a few ideas:
  • Greater right-of-way protection. We need to ensure that people cannot simply jump the fence to cut across the railway tracks. We definitely need to repair holes in fences sooner, and perhaps we should make fences higher - but beautify them to make them fit into the cityscape.
  • Upgrading or elimination of all public crossings. Where a railway track crosses a roadway, lights and gates should be the bare minimum. There should be no reason why a driver approaching a crossing is unaware that a train is coming.
  • Build pedestrian crossings. There are certain places where pedestrians regularly cross the tracks as a shortcut. There should be bridges or tunnels to carry people safely across the track as close to these locations as possible.
And perhaps my most controversial idea:
  • Change the law to ban lawsuits resulting from collisions with trains. Assuming the train is operating safely in accordance with the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR), anyone hit by a train is either trespassing on the right of way, or fouling the crossing - both of which are illegal. I don't believe that you should be able to file a claim when you yourself were breaking the law.
Something has to be done to reduce the injury and death resulting from these collisions - all of which are preventable, and I hope no one else has to die before action is taken.

Look, listen and live.



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