alarmist sign on pedestrian gate

Saving Crawling Babies

Returning to dysfunctional infrastructure, and the novel pedestrian crossings used on Australian railways. This example represents the highest level of protection offered to pedestrians at intersections with railways, with the recent upgrade of this crossing ratcheting that up another notch in the interests of mollycoddling the public.

design layout of pedestrian railway crossing

The plan view of this “active gated control” shows its essential elements of a through route straight across the tracks with an automated crossing gate that closes when a train is approaching. This then reveals the second compartment of the fencing which has a one way gate for pedestrians to exit the crossing while approaching pedestrians are held from entering. This one way “escape” gate has signage which reinforces that it an offence to pass the wrong way through them. After much busy works by a construction crew (complete with train spotter as they were working close to the running tracks) the following new gates appeared complete with loosely applied and uneven asphalt to hold them up.

exit gate of pedestrian crossing

Now instead of relying on financial penalties to dissuade people crossing the tracks the escape gates have magnetic latches holding them forcefully closed until the gate release button is pressed. While this will certainly slow down those who take their chances rushing across in front of oncoming trains, you do have to wonder why such a robust solution is needed to save stupid people from their overtly dumb actions, and how much this exaggerated safety is costing. Especially since despite efforts it is possible to simply reach over the fence and trigger the gate open (though it may take some learning to master the technique). Have any pedestrians even been fined for crossing against the lights to justify further controls?

Positioned 900mm above the ground the shrouded button is in an exemplary position for accessibility of all users other than those on horseback, but the careful viewer will notice a second release button 300mm above the ground. Is this for babies or drunkards? Possibly for those who need to use their feet to activate the gate but can’t use their hands or knee on the higher one? The existing spring loaded gates could be gently pushed or kicked open and presented none of these complexities or cost.

For bonus disaster the opening width of the new gates are less than 1100mm missing the minimum clear width of 1200mm required for wheelchairs to manoeuvre.

So the prison gates are just another white elephant of waste while extreme safety issues can’t find a budget to be addressed, the wasteful works not even addressing the existing deficiencies of this particular crossing.

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