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Cyclist w/ earphones dead in New Mexico

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Cyclist w/ earphones dead in New Mexico

Old 04-20-14, 12:32 AM
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Chris516
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Cyclist w/ earphones dead in New Mexico

I saw in my e-mail that a cyclist was wearing earphones while approaching a train crossing. As a train approached the rail crossing. Apparently either, their earphones were so loud the cyclist never heard the train, and/or, the train's horn was not blown.
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Old 04-20-14, 05:30 AM
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This happens from time to time. Why people ride with earbuds is beyond me. It really is an unsafe and just generally dumb thing to do.
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Old 04-20-14, 06:44 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
This happens from time to time. Why people ride with earbuds is beyond me. It really is an unsafe and just generally dumb thing to do.
I agree, but get ready to be flamed by those who defend the practice. My thoughts are cycling is inherently dangerous due to the complete lack of protection around you. There is one aspect of cycling, however, that greatly increases your safety as opposed to being in a car and that is a far greater awareness of what surrounds you. I choose not to compromise that one vital advantage in any manner whatsoever. Others claim they can use just one earbud or their mirror and not compromise their safety.

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Old 04-20-14, 07:30 AM
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That about sums it up from my perspective as well. If anyone wants to take exception to my comments...hey we all have our opinions I guess. But, having been an Instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the State of CT I have some background with safety and 2-wheeled vehicles. I am comfortable with my position and if I'm going to be hurt while riding it won't be because I voluntarily dulled any of my senses.
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Old 04-20-14, 08:19 AM
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I have worn earbuds from time to time on long (multi-month) bike tours to help me get across boring expanses like Kansas but i use a rear view mirror and pay attention.

In the city or burbs...the word suicide comed to mind. I guess if you take your time and obey lights and stopsigns along with a mirror it would be doable. Not for me tho.

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Old 04-20-14, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
This happens from time to time. Why people ride with earbuds is beyond me. It really is an unsafe and just generally dumb thing to do.
Lets add walkers and joggers.
On my ride yesterday I came up on a walker on the MUP, I announced my passing as I approached, when I get to them I see ear buds as they freaked (startled).
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Old 04-20-14, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
That about sums it up from my perspective as well. If anyone wants to take exception to my comments...hey we all have our opinions I guess. But, having been an Instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the State of CT I have some background with safety and 2-wheeled vehicles. I am comfortable with my position and if I'm going to be hurt while riding it won't be because I voluntarily dulled any of my senses.
Whenever I happen to ride a motorcycle, my hearing senses are dulled considerably by my full face helmet, but that's where one needs to heighten their visual awareness....I may not have fully heard a train approaching but I would have seen it well in advance.
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Old 04-20-14, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
Whenever I happen to ride a motorcycle, my hearing senses are dulled considerably by my full face helmet, but that's where one needs to heighten their visual awareness....I may not have fully heard a train approaching but I would have seen it well in advance.
I have heard that riding with a full face helmet allows for better hearing of noises because it reduces wind roar. I have no idea if that's true but I have heard it said many times. In CT it is legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I've never done it but I imagine the wind noise is significant. Of course, driving in the car with AC and radio on would pretty much eliminate hearing anything outside as well. Totally agree that visual awareness is key in the situation you describe.
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Old 04-20-14, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
Of course, driving in the car with AC and radio on would pretty much eliminate hearing anything outside as well. Totally agree that visual awareness is key in the situation you describe.
NOTHING, to include wearing headphones, eliminates hearing a train horn at a RR crossing except distance or deafness.
Not seeing a train approaching at a crossing requires not looking.

Perhaps the OP can be a little less vague about the source of his information about this event. Any specific references besides "an email" you received from somebody?
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Old 04-20-14, 10:28 AM
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Isn't "Stop, Look & Listen" still SOP for railroad crossings?

I don't wear earphones when riding, but I don't think it's a big deal except maybe in heavy traffic. OTOH if the cyclist had simply looked (one out of 3) he'd be alive today.
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Old 04-20-14, 10:29 AM
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Heres the poop from a local paper:

A southbound New Mexico Rail Runner Express train struck and killed a female bicyclist at about 11 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Zia Road and St. Francis Drive, marking the commuter train's second fatality of the week.
On Monday, a southbound train from Santa Fe to Belen fatally hit a pedestrian near Second Street and Prosperity Avenue in Albuquerque. New Mexico State Police identified the victim as Mary Odell, 67, of Albuquerque.
According to witnesses of Saturday's collision, the woman, a 60-year-old Santa Fe resident, was wearing headphones as she was riding her bike westbound on Zia Road, said Santa Fe Police Department Lt. Andrew Padilla. The woman’s identity was withheld pending notification of her family.

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/new...0e9665faf.html

I doubt that the headphones had any material impact on the accident. Anybody who misses a train going 30 mph or less has other problems than lack of hearing.


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Old 04-20-14, 10:34 AM
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You should take note that the most common reason for getting a train in your earhole is because there is a SECOND TRAIN hidden behind the one on a near track. You would have to be almost on the tracks to SEE the second train while noise from the closer train masks all sound from the hidden train (most people assume that all of the train sounds are from the visible train)

So imagine a line of cars or pedestrians waiting in the hot sun for a slow freight train to rumble past. At last they see the last train car approaching. They start their engines, put the tranny in Drive, then shoot across the track behind the last car...then WHAMMO! The second train nails them.

All the horn blowing in the world wont help because those sounds are attributed to the visible train.

Last edited by JoeyBike; 04-20-14 at 10:46 AM.
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Old 04-20-14, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by 02Giant View Post
Lets add walkers and joggers.
On my ride yesterday I came up on a walker on the MUP, I announced my passing as I approached, when I get to them I see ear buds as they freaked (startled).
You're lucky you even got their attention... I've regularly come upon people who won't even hear me no matter how loud or close I am...
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Old 04-20-14, 10:56 AM
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On the pedestrian issue, yep they pay no attention, but you as the overtaker have the responsibility to pass safely, none of which has any bearing on headphones or earbuds.
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Old 04-20-14, 10:59 AM
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IMO- there's no excuse for getting hit by a train. They don't jump out from the bushes, nor do they travel faster than the speed of light or sound.

The reason people get hit by trains is that trains aren't so frequent, and people are too casual about railroad crossings. Given the speeds involved, a train would have to be within a few hundred feet, or clearly visible when someone started crossing to hit them.
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Old 04-20-14, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
...a train would have to be within a few hundred feet, or clearly visible when someone started crossing to hit them.
I am telling you, an Amtrak train or even a fast freight in a rural area HIDDEN behind another train on a parallel track is basically a trap. There is no way to see or hear it. Getting hit this way could happen to any distracted person NOT THINKING about a second train. How many times do you consider there may be another train hidden behind the one you are waiting for?

It is so rare for this kind of synchronicity of passing trains to occur at a highway intersection that no one thinks about it as they wait impatiently for the train they can see to get out of their way. So almost EVERY TIME the synchronicity occurs at an unprotected crossing someone gets hit.

I have quite a bit of experience with this myself from an old commute. There was a trolly track parallel to a train track along the crowded (tourists mostly) riverfront in New Orleans. I fairly often caught a freight train around 9AM that was SLOW. Pedestrian traffic on a busy weekend might pile up at a crossing numbering in the hundreds of people - all focused on the passing train while chit-chatting amongst themselves to bide time. A few times it so happened that a trolley was approaching BEHIND the passing train and was obvious to me (because I am looking for the second train) that the pedestrians were in a "track start" position, drinks in hand, to bolt across the instant the visible train cleared the crossing. They were literally LEANING forward to shoot across when I yelled STOP! STOP! STO!P at the top of my lungs. Everyone stopped, the trolly shot by, and they all had looks on their faces like they saw a ghost and thanked me profusely. The LAST THING on their minds was a second train.

So there is your excuse for getting hit by an "invisible" train. It happens all the time to smart, normal people. I think you could see how that could happen.

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Old 04-20-14, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
I am telling you, an Amtrak train or even a fast freight in a rural area HIDDEN behind another train on a parallel track is basically a trap. There is no way to see or hear it. Getting hit this way could happen to any distracted person NOT THINKING about a second train. How many times do you consider there may be another train hidden behind the one you are waiting for?
That's why looking both ways at a crossing is the correct technique at ANY crossing or intersection. Head phones, ear plugs, car radios, deafness does not affect the ability to look both ways; to include looking the other way when the first train clears the intersection.

Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
So almost EVERY TIME the synchronicity occurs at an unprotected crossing someone gets hit.
According to the article/information furnished by howsteepisit, this was a protected crossing and the cyclist chose to ignore the downed crossing gates and went around them on the sidewalk. The gates would not have gone up if there was a second train. I have never seen a crossing gate at a protected crossing that did not also include flashing lights.

Perhaps she just did not see the crossing gates and flashing lights, just as she didn't see any RR crossing signs and didn't see the train.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:01 PM
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the crossing gates, which aim to prevent vehicular traffic from crossing the tracks while a train is passing, were down at the time, but witnesses told police the woman was riding on a sidewalk adjacent to the bars.
Sidewalk in question: https://goo.gl/maps/cXC2j

According to the article/information furnished by howsteepisit, this was a protected crossing and the cyclist chose to ignore the downed crossing gates and went around them on the sidewalk. The gates would not have gone up if there was a second train. I have never seen a crossing gate at a protected crossing that did not also include flashing lights.
Looks like it is not a sidewalk per se, but a multi-use path / bike trail that crosses the tracks near the protected crossing. Yes, there are flashing lights. It takes a good deal of distractedness to miss flashing lights, crossing gates, and the train itself. It's possible that she was trying to beat the train (not something I'd expect a 67yo woman to do, but who knows?)

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Old 04-20-14, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by hamster View Post
Sidewalk in question: https://goo.gl/maps/cXC2j
Thanks.
Flashing lights present and single RR track. An accident caused by an inability to see the warning devices or train approaching the station cannot be legitimately blamed on earphones. But some crusading nannys will do so anyway.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:09 PM
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It still makes me wonder if a second train was blocking the view of the one that hit her. The "innocent" train would continue on its way.

If the timing of two trains at an intersection is perfect you would nearly have to be ON the second set of tracks to see the hidden train. This means STOP and lean forward to "peek" behind the first train. A bicycle in motion very efficiently prevents leaning forward by accident. You have to be conciously looking for a second train to see it. Going around the gates is cool if you want a head start on car traffic only if you purposly look for a hidden train. You wont have two seconds to react to a surprise train.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
You should take note that the most common reason for getting a train in your earhole is because there is a SECOND TRAIN hidden behind the one on a near track. You would have to be almost on the tracks to SEE the second train while noise from the closer train masks all sound from the hidden train (most people assume that all of the train sounds are from the visible train)
The track in question is only a single track (Google Street View). So there's zero possibility of a second train.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Thanks.
Flashing lights present and single RR track. An accident caused by an inability to see the warning devices or train approaching the station cannot be legitimately blamed on earphones. ....
There's no issue of inability to see. It's more like not bothering to look. Based on the photo, there's no place for the train to hide behind before pouncing on her. I'm sorry about her death, but at some point people have to take some responsibility for themselves.

IMO- not that it would be pressed, but her estate owes the railroad and police for the costs involved.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
It still makes me wonder if a second train was blocking the view of the one that hit her. The "innocent" train would continue on its way.
If so, it must have been on the Mystery Track." Maybe a ghost of New Orleans DA Jim Garrison can press for an investigation of the Second Train on the Mystery Track.
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Old 04-20-14, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
I have heard that riding with a full face helmet allows for better hearing of noises because it reduces wind roar. I have no idea if that's true but I have heard it said many times. In CT it is legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. I've never done it but I imagine the wind noise is significant. Of course, driving in the car with AC and radio on would pretty much eliminate hearing anything outside as well. Totally agree that visual awareness is key in the situation you describe.
A full face helmet does reduce wind noise, but with the visor closed or partially closed, the most prevalent noise I heard was from my motorcycle's exhaust and engine.
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Old 04-20-14, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by hamster View Post
It's possible that she was trying to beat the train (not something I'd expect a 67yo woman to do, but who knows?)
...or the woman had an acute case of glaucoma, anything's possible, in which case, wearing ear buds is not recommended.
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