Police: Bicyclist rides around crossing gate in Somerville, is killed by train

Transit Police report a male bicyclist, 25-30, rode around a crossing gate in the down position at Park Street in Somerville around 1:30 p.m. and was promptly struck and killed by an outbound Fitchburg Line train.

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This post comes as very

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This post comes as very callous to someone's death.

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Why?

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It is a statement of fact. This is the kind of event people in the area would want to know about.

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It is hardly callous to report about somebody

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who died, not because of anybody else's action/inaction or negligence, but as a direct result of their own deliberate and idiotic actions (riding around a lowered crossing gate). Yes, I have sympathy here. It's for the victim's family and friends, who have to deal with an untimely death. It's also for the train operator, who has to now live with the fact for the rest of their career (and life) that they, through no fault of their own, have hit and killed somebody.

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"promptly"

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"promptly" is the word, I bet, that set off this reader.

I can see nothing else that might explain his take on Adam's post.

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Adam removed a comment

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There was a comment by scumquistador that was very offensive.

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Nope, not me

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I'm pretty liberal (yeah, yeah) with the delete checkbox these days, but no, I didn't delete anything here by him.

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Awful shitty no-good day

I was in the kitchen when I heard the horn-followed-immediately-by-brakes combo that always signals someone has been hit. I could see the body down the tracks. There was some debris to the north of the tracks that may have been part of the bike, but I wasn't close enough to it to be sure and I wasn't going to run down the track when there wasn't anything to be done.

Other than the engineer, who I'm sure is having the worst day of his life, the worst part will be for the and the two eyewitnesses who saw the cyclist coming and tried to warn him to stop. They're emotional wrecks right now, and I sincerely hope they call one of the counselling numbers the EMTs and police were trying to give them. I think it happened so fast that nobody but those three saw the actual moment of impact up close.

I'm going to go have a couple of stiff drinks now to brace myself for the nightmares I know are coming.

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To a human

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To rsy, a human,
I applaud you for your sensitive and humane caring for all those who have might have witnessed or directly involved in this tragic incident. Rsy, there is also what we called secondary trauma victims and you could be a secondary trauma victim. You do not necessarily have to be right there when president incident occur, you could be close enough to smell it, feel it, hear it and even tasted, but not see to be tramatically affected. I hope that you're okay.
To the love ones of this individual, my love and prayers go out to you during this tragic moment, may GOD use your pain.

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Go away

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Prick

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Way to go, asshole.

Tis the internet and anonymous asshole are to be expected but you took the cake on this one. Someone writes about how traumatic it is to witness someone being killed and, being self obsessed, you find it necessary to post your humor over their concern?

One can only assume you find this funny as the thought of people being saddened by your own demise is so unlikely as to be humorous.

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Everyone, just a reminder.

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And Adam please correct me if I'm wrong,

Depending on your browser settings, your 'thumbs up' counts every time you come back to visit a post and upvote.

There's comfort in knowing 14+ others don't think like 'ol Scummy, but then you realize what kind of genuine loser he really is to upvote his own post 14+ times.

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Is there any doubt he's a loser?

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His whole goddamn raison d'etre consists of putting a stick in the eye of thoughtful discussion here. He's an embarrassment and likely a sad, lonely dude.

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sorry to disappoint

but i didnt upvote that post once, and ill even reiterate what i said:

effing lol.

somebody talked about me being self obsessed and another talks about how traumatic it was for THEM today. this is the day they DIDNT get hit by a train, and somebody else did.

but yes, im self obsessed. not the 'victim' that didnt die today.

literally ~*worst day ever*~.

guess what, somebody else had a way worse day. the person that died. for those of you downing alcohol to cope, please have a few more to cope with this dose of reality. also, speaking of reality. you literally made up a fantasy world where i thumbsed up my own post using multiple browser instances. this is something that you entirely constructed in your head and have mindfucked yourself into believing. you might think im an asshole, but at least i'm not inventing reality to suit my own agenda.

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Have you ever watched someone

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Have you ever watched someone die and known there was not a thing you can do about it? Have you been at the front of a train wondering what that bag of debris was doing on the tracks only to realize just in time that that wasn't trash at all? Have you heard the sickening thud of someone's skull hitting the train you're on? Have you got off the train and seen the bloodstain on the front? Have you looked at the newspaper a couple of days later and found out that the thud and smear had a name and a life story, a story whose rather abrupt end you got to see? If not, then maybe you should stop doubting those who have and have some sympathy for the experience that you clearly don't understand.

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No-one called it the worst

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No-one called it the worst day ever. A no-good day, yes. Witnessing the aftermath of a gruesome death will generally override any positives a typical day might bring. That seems like a fair assessment under virtually any circumstances.

So let's talk about that fantasy world and who, precisely, is living in it.

Please stop. You make this site worse through your participation. I for one click through to fewer articles because for some unfathomable reason, adamg has decided your personal toxicity is the level of discourse to be allowed.

In the parlance of your people: "SAD!"

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are you sure

that somebody didn't say the engineer was having the worst day of his life

are you absolutely positive that wasn't said

edit: also its pretty funny the vitriol directed towards me, when at the time of this edit there are at least two posts here blaming the guy on the bicycle

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Are you really that clueless?

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People are taking issue with you mocking people for feeling horrified at seeing this. Trauma among witnesses and the driver IS REAL! Grow up an learn about it, or, maybe, shut up.

Clearly, this is all on the guy on the bike. We know that. Simple facts. No outrage there.

The fact that you cant tell the difference? That means that you need to get your clue, dude, and get one soon.

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hmm

or what? i'll continue to face sadbrained internet rage on my local news source?

oh lord let me get my helmet

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Here's the thing

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When you explained your comment, it made sense, at least to me, since of course of everyone involved, the dead guy got the worst of it (which is not to say that the engineer and witnesses didn't have a very shitty day, which they did.) That said, the fact that you had to explain it shows how bad it was as written at first. At first blush, it seemed mighty callous.

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i am

a callous person and will be the first to admit the feelings of others, certainly strangers, generally arent my concern

i believe my post history has made that amply apparent here

i am glad you saw where i was coming from

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Worst days aren't mutually exclusive

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I'm pretty sure this could have also been the worst day ever in their respective lives for the engineer and any witnesses, in addition to the victim, of course.

Is this a hard concept to grasp?

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no, its pretty easy

but its not a concept i'd go around talking about when theres a dead person and the family of the guy that died to consider.

you know, the actual victims.

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Obviously not that easy at all

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It's a tragedy for this young man and his loved ones. No one is denying that or claiming otherwise.

Doesn't mean it can't be traumatic for others.

Again, not mutually exclusive in any way whatsoever.

You basically claim to not give a rat's ass about other peoples' feelings. Great. Good for you.

Then why are you so invested in discarding them and actively trying to prove they're not worthy?

Odd.

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Please, give it a rest

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Your drolleries are about somebody's reaction to a gruesome death.

It's marvelous nothing affects you at all, except to give you a good chuckle, but not everybody's like that, and different people react to horrible news differently, and people who are strongly affected deserve to be able to express that without your kind of reaction.

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Adam...

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Word choice.

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Yep

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Unintentional, but changed.

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voting bug?

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Adam, as I was reading the page I noticed that the comment in question had an "only you voted" message instead of the thumbs up icon but I didn't upvote it, certainly not intentionally and I'm confident not accidentally. It's hard to imagine anybody else would upvote it either and it should be easy for you to tell if the poster upvoted it that many times himself.

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I'll check, but ...

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I suspect what might have happened is that another anonymous visitor clicked the link and the system doesn't know the difference between anons.

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Yikes

Sorry to hear all this happened - to you and the others who saw it. I wish you all the pleasant dreams and respite from memory that you need.

What is it that people don't get about train crossings? Or, maybe, this was intentional ... that crossing never comes down much before the train does and the train is moving rather fast. Maybe 30 seconds from first bell to gates up.

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RIP young man

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My sympathies.

No need to bring idle speculation into this, Swirly. How is that at all helpful?

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Idle speculation?

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What is that people don't get about train crossings?

I live around the corner from this - an extremely stupid move or a suicidal one to jump it.

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Yes, certain idle speculation isn't called for

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Nothing reported points to suicide so there's no need for idle speculation on that count. That's a very serious matter best left to the authorities to determine.

And again, how is it helpful in anyway?

If we're going to speculate-
Perhaps he was a foreigner unfamiliar with our train crossings?
Maybe he was having a seizure?
Or his brakes failed?

See how this can be done w/o impugning a dead man?

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Beating a train across a crossing

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Line speed there is 60 mph (the new 80 mph territory on Fitchburg is west of Alewife if not Waltham). It's nearly a mile from Porter so it's unlikely a train would be going much slower unless the engineer was ahead of schedule and the engineer was especially cautious on the brakes (unlikely). Visibility at the gates is restricted such that a train could sneak up on you almost immediately, even if you peered around a train would only take 9 seconds to get to the crossing from the Dane Street bridge. Of course, it also means that an 800-foot long train (longer than most Fitchburg consists) would pass in 8 or 9 seconds.

Likely, this is someone new to the area from an area with long, slow-moving freight trains. So they probably were unfamiliar with how fast trains here were moving (and how short the wait is) and decided to try to beat the train across. Didn't happen. There's never a reason to go around a gate, especially in the Boston area. There are only a few grade crossings inside 128 (none in Boston, this one in Somerville, Sherman Street in Cambridge, Brighton Street in Belmont, West Medford, a couple on the Eastern Route, a couple in Waltham and several on the Western Route from Melrose north. Very little freight service, mostly fast, short commuter trains. A grade crossing elimination might make sense; Park Street one could probably just be closed (maybe with a bike/ped crossing; traffic could use Dane Street and the 83 bus could be rerouted straight out to Porter).

Fun fact: much of the South Side was grade separated around 1900 (Newton, for example). The Boston and Maine had a grade separation program which was active in to the 1950s; I believe Winchester and Waverley Square were the last the be relocated before the B&M was bleeding too much red ink to go further. For my money, the best ROI would be West Medford, which sees nine trains per hour at rush hour gumming up the works and has a paid crossing tender to keep the tracks clear to the tune of a quarter million dollars a year.

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Park Street is very busy

Especially now with Beacon Street partially and intermittently closed for reconstruction, but even without that, lots of people drive, bike, and walk through this crossing. Closing it would be very unlikely.

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Yes,

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West Medford crossing is hazardous. Very busy (with cars and pedestrians), weirdly configured intersection, but I don't imagine they will ever spend the money to build an overpass or underpass to eliminate it. It's been there for over a hundred years. There are actually two at-grade crossings in West Medford. One in the square and one further down at Canal St. The square is attended, but he other is not. I know people who are very distrustful of the gates always working at Canal St.

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Two school zones, too

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Two school zones for that crossing, too - Brooks and St. Rays

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Not trying to detract from

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Not trying to detract from your point at all, but there are a lot of crossings you left out.

Boston doesn't have zero - there's a grade crossing at Widett Circle, and several on the (albeit inactive) Track 61 by the Convention Center.

Cambridge has 6 road crossings on the Grand Junction Branch (plus additional ped crossings), but these are all stop-and-protect crossings.

By line, inside 128 there are zero crossings on the south side, like you said, but there are 7 on the Fitchburg, 2 on the Lowell, 10 on the Haverhill, and 11 on the Eastern (not counting Rockport branch), plus the GJ crossings.

I don't think you can blame incidents like these on the relative rarity of grade crossings around Boston.

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I used to live near this

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I used to live near this sight. Train does travel very fast by this location. However, the gates goes down and there is a loud "ding ding ding" bell going off until the train has passed, so there are ample warning signs. A careless, split-second decision unfortunately cost this man his life. Sad. Condolences to his family and friends.

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There's a reason school buses and hazardous loads always stop.

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Sympathies to the young man and his family.

Stopping is the safe prudent thing to do with precious or dangerous cargo.
Prudence is also required even if you're not required to stop.

When a was a novice driver I was paying attention and got stopped in traffic before I could cross a crossing (no train was coming.)

Car behind me kept coming and I was essentially boxed in on the tracks. Not good.

Learned my lesson then and there. I always exercise caution at crossings and ensure there's no way I'll be anywhere near an oncoming train.

When you think about it it's really one of the most potentially dangerous spots on the road.

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Road crossings

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Why don't our grade crossings use complete gating?

Enough single half-gate bullshit.

IMAGE(http://www.networkrailconsulting.com/assets/Uploads/Bolton-le-Sands-level-crossing.jpg)

This or even two half-gates on both sides should be used since these are higher speed crossings.

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Those who claim to make an idiot-proof device

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consistently underestimate the sheer creativity and ingenuity of idiots.

Also: I am not in favor of spending extra public money to put that extra grating in there. The gate comes down, the lights go on. That's all the indication you should need to know that a train is coming and you shouldn't co-locate yourself with it.

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Extra grating...or?

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The driver's healthcare for mental anguish, the clean-up efforts, the investigatory crew, the possible repair to the vehicle...

I mean a train-pedestrian incident isn't free. But you'd rather not buy a second gate for the other side of the road...or a metal grate.

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Pshaw

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We all know that Roman doesn't believe in all that socialist health care for wimpy union workers that are morally weak when it comes to killing people!

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And I also invite small children into my gingerbread house

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where I teach them the virtues of situational awareness and constant skepticism against the assumption that anyone other than your own self is responsible for your own immediate physical safety.

I was in Bar Harbor on vacation last week and went hiking every day. Many of those trails can be quite hazardous. In fact, there are plenty of places where you can park your car, start walking in a given direction, and find yourself face down on jagged rocks twenty feet down or more without any railing to stop you or warning sign to tell you that cartoon physics do not apply to you in real life. You're just supposed to know to pay attention to your surroundings and not walk off a cliff to your death.

People have died on those trails. Sometimes because they were on their phone and did walk off the side of a cliff. Sometimes through a miscalculation or an unfortunate slip. Both cases are (thankfully) infrequent enough to be measured in units of 1/decade. Just like a guy riding around a functioning crossing gate under a train.

So I ask you: what's a better treatment of your fellow man, telling him he's an idiot who can't take care of himself by spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on 'extra' safety devices or just accepting that some people will always find a way to get themselves into a mess?

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WTF is your problem?

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Didn't get a good night's sleep because the government didn't pay some drone 50/hr to read you a bed time story to put you to sleep and tuck you in?

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No, it doesn't

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It has a half gate in front of the direction of traffic (and mini sidewalk gates on the traffic side of the road) and a quarter gate in front of the opposite sidewalk to alert pedestrians. It leaves the middle quarter/third of the road open on both sides when fully closed.

You can see it in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Afu7DCy-sA

You will need to pause it to see the hole in the gate.

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Probably because you run the

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Probably because you run the risk of penning someone in with no exit point if the gates come down around them.

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There's still a risk of

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There's still a risk of trapping cars. Part of what complicates installing four-quadrant gates at grade crossings is the requirement to include an an escape refuge for a car trapped between the gates - usually in the form of either offsetting the gates far enough from the tracks to fit a car between them, or providing a place for the car to turn in alongside the tracks.

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Trapping pedestrians, too

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There was a comment on a local list about someone having seen an elder with a walker at this very crossing who was between the gates when they went down. The guy made it, but it was a very close call.

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Pressure to get to a destination NOW!?

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When I visited a southern state where I grew up it was evident to me that I had adjusted to the perception that everything has to be done NOW in Massachusetts. It's a weird social pressure that I first sensed when standing in line at a CVS. I felt as though I needed to exit the line as soon as I had the change and put the change in my wallet after leaving the counter. Down south everyone waited to put the change in their wallet, purse, pocket, etc. before leaving the counter. A small example but one that reminds me that the speed of life just feels fast up here. Plus it's not just a sense of speed but also a feeling of having to keep moving. Living up here I feel a social pressure to constantly keep moving until I'm at my destination. As though to take time, or worse to stop on the way between points A and B is somehow anathema to life as a Bostonian. So I wonder if the fellow was obeying the same sense of having to get to his destination ASAP, without delay, without slowing down.

In a time when regulations are regularly condemned as somehow a government scheme to control everyone and everything this is a terrible, sad reminder that there are regulations that are important and exist to save our lives. Safety regulations, safety rules, anything about safety is easy to ignore because most people respect safety concerns and so the horror stories of the past are far fewer. But when anyone chooses to rush through with their task sacrificing safety in the belief that they are somehow exempt, immune or believing that everyone else will take care of being safe the end result is terrible. As terrible as this man's death and the grief that now will be a part of the lives of the people who loved him.

As with each untimely death I hope that this young man's fate can be at least a reminder to everyone else to be safer in whatever they do.

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Well said

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It is common practice on this site and in MA to be snarky about cyclists. I'm sure if anyone heard a sound byte of it on the news they'd think "another masshole driver killed a cyclist!!' The pressure of a 'faster' pace of life is valid, and as much as it saddens me a young person lost their life, it all around sounds liker a stupid decision.

Anyone who has ever watched a Tom and Jerry cartoon knows what happens at railroad crosses. Lets not bemoan infrastructure for someone's poor judgement. it could be the person had their headphones on, was looking at a phone (I've seen it on cyclists more than once) or really felt the gate didn't apply to them. Would full gates six feet high have prevent this? Yes. Was the person warned regardless? Yes.

Do we have to have 20 foot tall razor wire on every bridge, pier, etc, so that people aren't dumb enough to jump and lose their life? If we do, then we as a species need to think real hard about our own intelligence, and judgement.

You can't child proof the whole world.

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.

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.

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