Berkeley had a first-hand experience with rail tragedy June 19 when a popular community activist, Lucie Buchbinder, was killed by an Amtrak train she apparently did not hear while crossing the tracks at Jack London Square in Oakland. Buchbinder, 83, a founder of the Bread Project in Berkeley, was hit when she walked behind a slow-moving freight train that had just passed, not aware of the Amtrak train traveling in the opposite direction with its horn sounding.
OK, maybe it's just me, but it seems like trains are big, highly visible, and bloody loud even without horns. And my mother taught me to look both ways before I crossed the street-- it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this also applies to train tracks.
I live a block and a half from the Oakland Amtrak station, which means I'm that far away from active train tracks and just a few blocks from where that woman was killed. The tracks are very active, with lots of freight trains in addition to passenger runs. I walk across those tracks on a regular basis-- the last time was at midnight last night when I walked over to the bookstore. Not once in the five years I've lived here have I come even the least bit close to walking in front of an oncoming train. Those fuckers are hard to miss.
I'm trying to imagine a situation where a horn would prevent a pedestrian from being hit by a train and I'm coming up short. Am I just being cynical?