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The other day I was hurrying to work approaching the train tracks at clinton just n. of fulton.  the warning lights and bells started going off as i was maybe 20ft from them.  so i accelerated and made it over before the gates began to move.

a metra police officer jumped in front of me a little ways later and made me stop.  wrote me a ticket and said it will likely cost me at least $250.  I kind of thought that the lights and bell were like a yellow light and you didnt have to stop until the gates came down.  It appears this is not the case.  expensive lesson learned.

posting this as a cautionary tale to anyone else pedaling over train tracks regularly.

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Obedience to Railroad Signal

Illinois law (625 ILCS 5/11-1201) requires all drivers to stop within 50 and 15 feet from the nearest rail of the railroad under the various circumstances including but not limited to the following: an electric or mechanical signal device give warning of the immediate approach of a train or track equipment, a crossing gate is lowered, or when a train or track equipment is plainly visible and in hazardous proximity to the crossing. If any of these circumstances exist, the driver must wait to proceed until the tracks are clear and they can do so safely.

The statute also prohibits a driver from driving their vehicle through, around or under a crossing gate while the gate is closed OR is being opened or closed.

A minimum fine of $250 is imposed for a first violation of this section. The court has the ability to impose 25 hours of community service in place of the minimum fine for a first violation. A minimum fine of $500 is imposed for a second or subsequent violation. In addition, for a second violation, the Illinois Secretary of State may suspend the offender’s driver’s license for a minimum of 6 months.


Source: http://www.illinoisdriverslicensereinstatementlawyer.com/lawyer-att...

Honestly, I would've made the same assumption, I've been lucky that I haven't been in that situation. Thanks for posting...I was curious so I googled it as I pass metra crossings from time to time. I have no affiliation to the law office that I sourced this from.

Were you in a car, or on your bike? It is not 100 percent clear. I think a refresher course on traffic laws might be in order too. A yellow is a warning to stop, not an invitation to gun it through the intersection. If you are approaching a light that is yellow, and have the room to stop, then you must stop. If you do not have room to stop, you proceed with caution, not reckless acceleration.

Sounds like CJ was on bike since the officer jumped in front of him. 

Think about it this way CJ: what if you'd wiped out on the tracks? 

Active Transportation Alliance offers community service positions :-)

The only thing I'm having trouble understanding is this:

if the gates hadn't come down yet as he claims as he had already passed through intersection, then how in the hell did he get caught?

Ride it like you stole it said:

Were you in a car, or on your bike? It is not 100 percent clear. I think a refresher course on traffic laws might be in order too. A yellow is a warning to stop, not an invitation to gun it through the intersection. If you are approaching a light that is yellow, and have the room to stop, then you must stop. If you do not have room to stop, you proceed with caution, not reckless acceleration.

metra cop was on other side of tracks, maybe 20yrds past between parked cars taking pics with a camera (as evidence i'm guessing).   he jumped out, held up a a badge and yelled stop.  

he was ticketing pedestrians as well.  I asked him how often he was catching someone, he said every couple of minutes.  

A quick (and possibly inaccurate) search suggests that there are something like 6-8 pedestrain deaths by Metra train a year, and half or more are suicides.  Hard to tell how many train/car crashes there are because they're all crowded out my one bad one 3 days ago, but this smells like selective enforcement of the biased variety to me.

I'd love to see some of this enforcement on the Rock Island, where I see peds (sometimes cars, rarely bikes) cross the tracks too close to the approaching train nearly every day.  This includes a guy I see habitually running late and crossing as close as 30-40 feet in front of the train as it's pulling into the station at 95th St. - definitely after the gates have gone down.  Yesterday he ran across the tracks in front of the train even though the engineer saw him coming and laid on the horn longer than usual to give a warning.

Yesterday I saw at least 3 vehicles in each direction drive through that crossing from the time the gates started going down until they were all the way down.  This is a daily occurrence.  Every so often, some driver manages to take out the gate by driving through too late.  Then we have police out there every time a train comes through, stopping traffic until the broken gate gets replaced by Metra.

Rather ironic that we're NOT getting enforcement on the Rock Island. We have a LOT of grade crossings and we seem to have a higher than average number of fatalities and serious injuries from people getting hit - as peds and in cars.  This includes the mother who drove around the gates on 115th near Vincennes earlier in the week with her little boys in the car.   Some of ours don't make the news - if they're not fatalities.  Seems like we have a "car struck on the tracks" incident at least twice a month on our line, if not more.

Even right after a fatality like the 115th St. crash, people keep on cutting it close.  Is common sense dead?

Oh, Anne. 

Anne Alt said:

Is common sense dead?

Common sense and common courtesy seem to be more and more uncommon.

If there were more common sense, laws and enforcement of laws to prevent what is truly senseless behavior would not be necessary.  Trains always win.  It takes an incredible distance to stop one even when it is going slowly and they can't swerve to avoid an accident.

Anne Alt said:

  Is common sense dead?

this smells like selective enforcement of the biased variety to me.

Unfortunately, that's been my experience too often.  Common sense and courtesy are becoming rarer, and we end up paying for it one way for another.

Lisa Curcio said:

Common sense and common courtesy seem to be more and more uncommon.

If there were more common sense, laws and enforcement of laws to prevent what is truly senseless behavior would not be necessary.  Trains always win.  It takes an incredible distance to stop one even when it is going slowly and they can't swerve to avoid an accident.

Anne Alt said:

  Is common sense dead?

this smells like selective enforcement of the biased variety to me.

CJ,

Sorry to hear you got a ticket. I cross that railroad twice a day and regularly ride through the crossing after the bells start rining. I will have to chance my behavior a bit, since I don't need a ticket like that.

But I don't think it is selective enforcement. Every time I get stopped for the gates, I see pedestrians (all the time), bicyclists (occasionally) and even cars (rare) cross around the downed gates. It is a dangerous crossing. The middle track tends to be used for inbound trains, obsuring the outbound trains on the north bound track. Too often I see pedestrian getting caught off-guard by that. Clearly Metra thinks that this is a risk and tries to do something about it.


Part of the problem is that the gates can be down for extended times. My "personal best" is having to wait for no less than nine separate trains to pass without the gates opening once.

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