Please Be Aware & Careful Out There.

22 05 2010

Sad news that a cyclist was struck and severely injured by an LRT train on Thursday. To Wesley John Haineault, best wishes for recovery, my thoughts are with you, and your family and friends. You sound like the kind of person our communities need more of, and I really hope you pull through.

News story here.

The news reports say that he waited at the railway crossing for a southbound train, and then crossed while the crossing arms were still down, not knowing that there was a northbound train coming down the other tracks, which hit him. In a slight twist of the usual blame the victim spin the media likes to take whenever a cyclist is injured or killed, it has been widely reported that he was wearing headphones. How headphones can drown out the sound of a train is beyond me, but do you know what can drown out the sound of an approaching train? Another train passing! I must admit, though, that I am glad that they haven’t been reporting on whether or not he was wearing a helmet, because I don’t think it would make much difference being hit by a train.

I don’t know if I’ve ever met Wesley, but this story still strikes close to home. I rode through the same intersection minutes before this accident happened, and waited for the ill-fated train at the next crossing. I’ve been quick to cross the tracks after the train passes but while the signals are still on (heck, I’ve done it at least twice this week) and have had a near hit in a similar situation where there was a second oncoming train. I cycle with music all the time (and I don’t wear a helmet, in case anyone cares). For 99.99% of the time, cycling is pretty safe, but it could’ve been my, or anyone’s, number come up in the shit lottery.

Before anyone chides me for risk taking, please consider this. The most important piece of safety equipment we possess are our brains. Alertness, patience, awareness, good decision making and reaction time are more critical than any gadget we can buy or what we wear or don’t wear. Take this reminder to reflect on the chances we take and decisions we make everyday, and please be alert and careful out there.

And to my friends, I promise I will never enter an active train crossing again, no matter how clear it seems.