Improved pedestrian crossing

I like this:

Pedestrian crossing on the east side of the Elmonica/170th platform

Don’t linger between the tracks!

The Z-crossing railings on both sides of this walkway force people to face the direction of oncoming trains before crossing – this is a relatively recent addition at Elmonica and other platforms to improve the safety of the walkway there since the substation makes it a blind corner for both pedestrians and train operators. And the freshly painted “STOP HERE” (looks like they haven’t gotten to the side near the parking lot yet though) and “DON’T STAND HERE” are nice improvements as well.

Aerial view of a Burnside Z-crossing near E 176th Ave

Aerial view of Interstate Z-crossing near N Wygant St

Z-crossings have long been in use on Burnside and Interstate, but it’s only over the last few years that TriMet began channeling people into Z-crossings on platforms. While I wish it were simple enough that people would stop and look both ways before they walk onto railroad tracks, the plain truth is that many, if not most people don’t.

So anything done to accommodate and counteract poor decisions that people make around trains in order to prevent accidents is great news as far as I’m concerned.

I don’t have children in the school system in Portland, so I don’t know how much (if any?) time is spent teaching kids that hey, there are these pretty, shiny, fast-moving trains going through neighborhoods and school zones in the Portland area, so here’s  how to be safe around them because they are not toy trains. Believe me, few things are as heartbreaking to see from a train cab as a parent taking their small children by the hand and running in front of your moving train, or sometimes pushing a baby stroller in front of an oncoming train.  Aside from the obvious risk involved, what is that teaching those kids? Nothing good – I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I’ve seen youths trespassing in the right of way, crossing where there is no pedestrian access, walking around in the tracks near platforms, running in front of oncoming trains so they don’t miss it, etc. But sadly there are plenty of adults who do all of these things too, so who is their good role model?

I think events like this one should be standard and ongoing for kids in Portland so that Portlanders learn from a young age how to be safe around the trains and rail safety becomes part of the safety culture in Portland, not just at TriMet.

2 responses to “Improved pedestrian crossing

  1. “so here’s how to be safe around them”

    I believe that when Interstate MAX opened, they did go to the nearby schools and do safety stuff. And I think they are also active at other schools near MAX. Lastly, there’s always this stuff:

    As for the new Z crossings, as much as I’d like to argue that when people get hit, its their fault, I think it could be questioned, “Why have crossings at platforms and other places been treated differently than ones that are on their own?” Especially considering that there’s a lot of other things for operators to deal with around stations, intersections, etc compared to someone darting across the open area where the original Z crossings are.

    I also know that MAX incidents are very costly financially, psychologically, reputationlly and other ways.

    • Interstate opening – yes, there was a safety campaign then. I still have my Chillaxin on the MAX cd that was part of that outreach. And I know that they offer those safety materials on the website (as well as the Tracks are for MAX TriMet TV episode), but I have no idea of the usage/download amount of those materials or how much those are promoted in area schools, scout clubs, kids’ camps, etc. I’m curious how much there is active promotion of safety, not just the existence of safety information.

      Z-crossings on platforms – I don’t know why it took so long to start implementing those, especially at crossings that have substations or other visual barriers. And I think there is still room for improvement, like at Millikan Way where gates that people have to pull open to cross force people to stop, but they don’t force people to look and I still see plenty of people that have near misses there because they don’t look for incoming westbound trains before walking across to the eastbound platform.

      And yes, to your last sentence.

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