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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Life, Death and Rails

Uploaded: Apr 20, 2014
I try to avoid high-risk behavior...yet my last-minute dashes for Caltrain's 8:39 morning express border on suicidal. It's easy to forget that trains defy rules of perception. Rail safety isn't always obvious. That's why I could only benefit from this week's "blitz." This Thursday, at the Menlo Park station, Caltrain staffers will be out in force.

The 24 April [Safety Blitz www.caltrain.com/safety during the morning rush hour, is designed to educate us – and our kids. Menlo Park, where tracks are at street level (not elevated or underground), poses significant risks for pedestrians and drivers.

What's to know about rail safety? For one thing, speeding trains distort sound -- it's hard to 'hear' how fast they're going. My eyes can deceive me too. A slow, distant train can suddenly become both faster and closer.

As the Caltrain schedule expands, so does the importance of rail safety. In Menlo Park, our level crossings pose a chronic danger. The structural remedy – separating trains and roads – is long overdue.

Questions about rail safety? You can talk to Caltrain engineers, law enforcement officers and public affairs staff this Thursday, 24 April, 7:30 – 9:15 AM, at Menlo Park station.

Comments

Posted by Jayme Ackemann, a resident of another community,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

Thanks for helping us get the word out Paul. Hopefully our Rail Safety Staff will see you there!


Posted by relentlesscactus, a resident of another community,
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

And how exactly would one do that, both in terms of funding and not destroying several blocks of central Menlo?


Posted by Paul Bendix, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown,
on Apr 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm

How do we reshape streets and rails? And how do we pay for it?

The first step, I think, is to treat this as a difficult, but necessary, civic challenge. We have some of the best minds in the nation here in Menlo Park. Grade separation is a byproduct of the boom in Silicon Valley and the rail system that moves its young workforce.


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