Monday, January 24, 2011

Sharing the Road with Light Rail

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council

Sharing the road, has always been a fact of life, while making your way around Seattle. Cars, buses, trucks, bicyclists, and pedestrians now have something else to be aware of as you move through town; light rail trains. While much of the route the Sound Transit light rail trains use is elevated, there is a significant portion of the route that runs on surface streets, and must share the road with the rest of us.

Those of us who live and work in the South Lake Union neighborhood have already experienced the light rail cars running from down town to the Fred Hutchinson Research center. The plans are for both of these rail routes to expand and work is already underway for the expansion, so the number of people with the potential to come into contact with the light rails systems is also increasing.

These trains provide a new challenge in that they do not have the ability to take evasive action, to avoid a collision with another vehicle or person.

Some factors to consider:
The trains are quiet: so when approaching the rails, everyone must be alert for their approach. Electronic signage will help, but each of us, whether a driver or a pedestrian must be watching for them.
The trains are quick: they travel at the posted speed limit for the road way, added to the fact that the trains are heavy, there is a tremendous amount of momentum to arrest, before the train can stop. Being distracted by electronic devices or even just talking with a friend while approaching a rail crossing can quickly turn in to a life and death situation.

Take a look at the attached PSA from Sound Transit, and most of all, be alert when approaching a light rail crossing . . . .

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