Our View: Make railroad crossings safer

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Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2014 7:00 pm

The death of a well-known bicyclist, hit by the Rail Runner Express while crossing the tracks along the Santa Fe Rail Trail by St. Francis Drive and Zia Road, has sent shock waves through the cycling community and greater Santa Fe.

Suzanne LeBeau had a passion for cycling and the outdoors — and despite an eyewitness account that she was wearing headphones at the time of the accident, her friends said she was too safety-conscious to do so. What’s more, headphones have not been found at the accident scene, and LeBeau’s one pair of earbuds was at home. The lack of headphones — which would have affected her ability to hear the oncoming train — makes the accident more incomprehensible.

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  • 1 No Alias Commenters must use their real names.
  • 2 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
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  • 4 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Khal Spencer posted at 9:29 pm on Wed, Apr 30, 2014.

    Khal Spencer Posts: 1052

    Given that I once nearly rode my mountain bike off the business end of a mesa during a fit of inattention, I have to agree with your parenthetical comment, Pat. Wile E Coyote can get away with that and reappear in the next frame. Not me.

  • Pat Shackleford posted at 7:53 pm on Wed, Apr 30, 2014.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 1011

    Like I said about a week ago; I'm all for the state and city jointly conducting (or paying for) a study covering the specific and broad concerns you suggest, and presenting a few different plans with projected costs. I hope they will invite you onto a study/planning group. ( I accept, that when I meet with unexpected injury or demise due to my inattention or misstep into traffic, or off a cliff, others may mock or perhaps wisely point-out my error, as a learning example.)

  • Khal Spencer posted at 3:03 pm on Wed, Apr 30, 2014.

    Khal Spencer Posts: 1052

    True 'nuff, Pat. Put people on wheels, either two or four, and you add risk. Over 30k folks a year die in roadway mishaps.

    There is definitely more car traffic, and a train hitting a car has serious issues for the train as well as the car. I do agree one has to ask that question of cost vs. benefit in each case and I can be as cold blooded as they come when I choose to be.

    My beef with these facilities is that both Santa Fe and NMDOT have built these bike/ped facilities as an engineering "fix" to having created severe impediments to non-motorized travel, i.e., the NMDOT's rebuilding of Cerrillos and St. Francis as wide, high speed, multilane roads designed to maximize level of motor vehicle service. Compromises have been imposed due to the usual trying to retrofit solutions, such as building the rail crossing so close to St. Francis, and in having the bike facility wind around it somewhat like a coiled snake. I wonder if a proper risk analysis was done on the design.

    Don't know how much added "real" safety would be added by more bells and whistles and gates and hate to impose a solution because of a one-off fatality, but I would like to see some dispassionate discussion and risk analysis, and would like to pin down the state bike coordinator on whether he/she had effective oversight on this design and blesses the dang thing.

  • Pat Shackleford posted at 12:32 am on Wed, Apr 30, 2014.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 1011

    I appreciate your concern for this railroad safety issue. My comments, which easily fall into the "snark" category, are not a criticism of Ms. LeBeau personally, or making-light of her tragic accident. However, I think we should consider the wisdom, or not, of trying to implement expensive technological and mechanical safety devices (which will have their own unique flaws and complications) every time someone does a new twist with an old and known dangerous activity. In this case; bodies and objects on wheels in motion.

  • Khal Spencer posted at 2:34 pm on Tue, Apr 29, 2014.

    Khal Spencer Posts: 1052

    This has nothing to do with what you do in the kitchen, which is private property, has nothing to do with kids behavior, or the Darwin Awards. There is no evidence LeBeau was a Darwin competitor and quite a few people say otherwise; some of the comments below are unbridled snark.

    This is a heavily used public facility and the question remains, why is there a double safety standard for motorized vs. non motorized transportation, especially when the redesign of the tracks put them so close to a major intersection and created a bike path with numerous twists and turns? Someone on a bike can perhaps miss a quiet train on a windy day or in heavy traffic.

    A more recent article in the Journal points out the cyclist direction of travel was also gotten wrong by the witnesses, who also stated the cyclist has headphones. Questions remain on what happened, and whether she entered the intersection too late to be safe.

    There is, to be sure, a legitimate debate on the proper roles of personal responsibility and the government's job of providing reasonably safe public facilities. I don't advocate for a nanny state. But the NMDOT has been lax in it standards on bike and ped facilities for a long time, as the BCNM has pointed out in criticisms of the Paseo del Norte treatment, rural shoulder pavement, and other examples.

    It would be nice to have this discussion minus the snark.

    some comments here.

  • Pat Shackleford posted at 5:27 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 1011

    coming soon to a village near you.
    "This one goes in your mouth, this one goes in your bum....
    ...oh wait; this one goes in your mouth, this one goes in your

  • Judy Kaminsky posted at 3:05 pm on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Judy_Kaminsky Posts: 50

    Look up "Darwin Awards" on the internet. If we make our environment so safe that no one can get hurt, ever, we will create a generation of children who cannot properly evaluate risk and cannot effectively solve problems; and -worse- cannot accept responsibility for their own choices. Watch the movie "Idiocracy" and ask yourself, "how close are we already?"

  • Mel Hayes posted at 9:32 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    Hobson Posts: 117

    How do we protect ourselves from ourselves?[scared]

  • El Moore posted at 9:09 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    El Lah Mor Posts: 22

    I think I might have been a little vague there... What is called passive aggression is actually internal aggression and there is nothing passive about it... Internal aggression is actually the root and causation of all aggression to include external aggression(AKA acting out) of the targeted individuals or groups, and further passive aggression... Willing someone "down" is a form of internal aggression...

  • al_bedoya posted at 8:52 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    al_bedoya Posts: 35

    You forgot the warning about reading the SF New Mexican. That can rot your brain

  • El Moore posted at 8:37 am on Mon, Apr 28, 2014.

    El Lah Mor Posts: 22

    Two possible factors to be aware of are rider fatigue and age related hearing loss.. I have been on rides where paying attention to anything other than constant repositioning to ease discomfort and pumping out a few crank rotations to glide a little further were about all I could focus on..., The distance and effort where rider fatigue sets in varies for each individual... As people age their hearing diminishes... High frequency hearing loss is the most common.. This can cause some very strained hearing discernment especially around loud noises like traffic and train signals... The rider can experience a mixture of sounds coming together as one... Such as the train and traffic... Psychically there are energies and vibrations that effect our thought process... Bicyclist are recipients of some very strange community vibrations... some very negative... A child seems to run in to the street without care at times... That is a result of the child's lack of "internal" protection over such a will... Likewise a fatigued rider absorbing varying community energies loses a variety of "internal protections"... That loss can cause things like a train to seem to be at a halt at the station when it is actually moving to the crossing... much like a "spell"... The level of community "internal" aggression does matter.... Nothing passive about "internal" aggression... Safer crossings can work, however "urban" riding is always risky...

  • Pat Shackleford posted at 11:47 pm on Sun, Apr 27, 2014.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 1011

    Probably better to just stay home. But not in the kitchen where there's major appliances and sharp objects, like the knife that fell into the disposal. Just leave it in there and stand back if you must turn it on. Lots of people slip and fall in the bath too, so do avoid bathing just to be on the safe side. Your co-workers will actually respect the exemplary measures you take, for safety. Don't get too comfortable though; there's a meteor heading for your place tomorrow night. Don't stay up waiting for it, or it'll never come.


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