An Open Letter to the Driver Who Honked at Me at the Railroad Crossing
It was around 4 in the afternoon last week. I don't remember the day, but I do remember how you laid on the horn at me.
We were waiting at the red light on Forest Avenue by the railroad crossing. It was a particularly long red light, at least in my mind. Traffic was bumper to bumper at the light and I was about six cars deep with you right behind me as we headed east toward downtown Portland. Except I wasn't on the bumper of the car in front of me.
A few seconds after you pulled up behind me you laid on the horn and I couldn't figure out why. Then you angrily pulled around me and stopped in front of me on the railroad tracks.
Really? Were you upset at me because I was holding you back a couple of car lengths by not stopping in the railroad tracks? I don't understand.
I stopped where I did because I was not going to do what you chose to do and hang out right on the crossing just sitting there in the path of a possible oncoming train. Granted, trains don't go all that fast through this part of Portland because of seven railroad crossings between Brighton and Allen Avenues, but that's not what you should be concerned about.
If a train engineer saw you on the tracks they would put the train into emergency, where the air pressure that controls the brakes on all the cars is cut, causing all the car's brakes to engage fully. At a speed of 25 mph, it would take about 450 feet before the train came to a full stop. That's longer than a length of a football field. At 55 mph, which trains in the urban areas of Portland don't travel at, it would take a mile to stop.
If you're on the tracks, you are in danger of getting hit by a train, which is why I stopped before the tracks at the red light, seeing there wasn't room enough for me on the other side of the tracks.
So you might not want to stop on the tracks next time. Just some friendly advice.