The city is deeply saddened by the recent tragedies involving pedestrians and the SMART train. Our thoughts go out to the family and friends impacted by the incidents.
Rail safety is for everyone: pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists. We are working closely with SMART to improve safety. The most obvious example is the recent installation of “z gates” at the Golf Course Dr. crossing. These gates require pedestrians and cyclists to adjust their path of travel as they approach the crossing. Making these adjustments requires paying attention to one’s surroundings, which hopefully will include noticing oncoming trains. Similar protections are in place at the Rohnert Park Expressway crossing.
We have also cut back some brush to increase visibility of the tracks. We are exploring numerous other options, such as adding gate arms that would cross the pedestrian paths along with the road when trains are approaching. We are looking at reducing the number of signs in the area and visual clutter while perhaps adding larger signs to emphasize key safety points, particularly keeping cars off of the train tracks.
All too often we see cars stopped on the tracks, creating a serious danger. Trains operate day and night, so there is no safe time to be caught on the tracks. Both traffic lights and the flashing lights and bells are timed to allow cars to clear the area when trains are approaching. If either of these systems experience a problem, motorists could find themselves directly in the path of a train with no warning. We are increasing traffic enforcement to remind drivers of the importance of keeping off of the tracks. We ask that all drivers be aware of the risks they create for themselves and others by trying to get ahead just a bit at this intersection. Instead, we ask that you never approach the tracks until you are sure you have enough room to make it safely to the other side.
I would like to remind bicyclists that their wheels can get caught between the rail and roadway. It is best to cross at a 90-degree angle or walk across the tracks. We strongly discourage riding on or next to the tracks.
Pedestrians also need to pay close attention at crossings. This includes waiting for bells and lights to stop and the gate to rise before crossing the tracks. As with riding bikes, please do not walk on or next to the tracks.
To reduce the risks of wildfires, PG&E will be shutting off power when they expect high winds on hot days. These Public Safety Power Shut-offs (PSPS) could leave you without power for several days. In the event of a shut-off, PG&E plans to provide advance notice. Signing up for Nixle is one way to ensure that you will be informed. We also encourage you to update your contact information with PG&E and sign up to receive alerts at www.prepareforpowerdown.com.