Totally wiped out trying to cross the useless fucking train tracks on Townsend. First time I've done that in nine years. Fuck this weather.

I'm kinda confused about how I landed flat on my back but ended up with road rash on my palms...

Persistent rumor has it that the only reason that the useless menace of those tracks on Townsend (that run less than a block, and terminate right in front of the Adobe building) still exist is that Caltrain's contract specifies that if they don't make use of those tracks, ownership of that right-of-way reverts to the City. So once a month, they very methodically roll a train down the street... then roll it back. "See? We're 'using' it", they say, and no Caltrain bureaucrat gets a black mark on their record for having accidentally reduced the amount of real estate under their control. [citation needed]

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16 Responses:

  1. Ow. I got bit by some tracks once and ended up with a hematoma the size of a silver dollar over my right eyebrow. Sucks.

  2. autodidactic says:

    I got a broken scapula from my own wipeout a few years ago. It knocked pretty much everything asunder, haven't been the same since.

    I'm kinda confused about how I landed flat on my back but ended up with road rash on my palms...

    They told me it was the moment before the landing.

    Be gentle to yourself.

  3. fnivramd says:

    First thing they teach track workers. Don't step on the rails.

  4. jkonrath says:

    Some vestigial tracks in Oakland got me this summer, and I ended up with a broken wrist. Not fun.

  5. amaranthyne says:

    Usually in SF it's guerrilla greenery-putting, but I think this may call for some guerrilla paving.
    Epson salt bath with a paper book time 'til then!

  6. kencf0618 says:

    To paraphrase Winston Churchill, if this story isn't true, it should be.

  7. robm42 says:

    I have to third the gloves call. In my 15 or so years of urban bicycling, I've had about 3 good wipeouts, and each time I look at my shredded gloves and think, "Wow, really glad that wasn't my hand."Is it inappropriate to repost this?

  8. boggyb says:

    There's a similar thing with a station in England - Newhaven Marine, on a very short branch from the line to Seaford. It gets one unpublished train per day, but the station itself has been "temporarily closed" for several years (the train operator will apparently provide a taxi).

  9. a_0001 says:

    The right-of-way story may be true, but the bureaucratic black mark is more complicated than you think.

    By Federal law (49 U.S.C. 10903), railroads aren't allowed to just abandon and remove tracks they aren't using; they have to have permission from the Surface Transportation Board in Washington. This agency is the successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission; think like the ABC, but for transportation.

    Even under the simplified "exemption" procedures, it's a time-consuming and expensive process, requiring a petition and notices in newspapers and the Federal Register. Lots of lawyers, plus opportunities for gadflies to interfere at every stage.

    Without this permission, it's illegal to remove the rail line or allow the right-of-way to revert to non-rail uses. Caltrain may have no use for the tracks and actually want to get rid of them, but it may be cheaper to arrange for a yard engine to move over the line every so often than to go through an abandonment proceeding.

    Then again, it's possible the tracks do have some very infrequent but legitimate use, say as a team track for unloading heavy equipment. I don't think Adobe or Bang & Olufsen ships by rail, but it's conceivable that one of the adjacent landowners wants to keep his options open for future industrial uses, in which case an abandonment proceeding becomes more difficult.

    • hadlock says:

      That makes sense. There's a bunch of warehouse-turned office space with access to a railroad spur here in Dallas just off 635 and the tollway. I imagine that if property values drop enough that it becomes economical to use it as warehouse space again, their property values are aided by access to that railroad spur. If that railroad spur were to disappear, the base resale value of those properties would drop dramatically.

    • pdx6 says:

      I don't have a reference for you, but I've been talking to the designers and planners of the Caltrain/HSR subway project, and as part of the plan those spur tracks will be removed and most of Townsend St. in that area will be ripped out and repaved when the new subway ROW goes in down there.

      An interesting side fact is that townsend is one of the few streets in the city that is not a "compliant" street, meaning that it has no proper sidewalk on either side. This helps explain why the street markings are inconsistent and confusing up along the depot length. This will get fixed as part of the HSR subway project.

  10. tkil says:

    From Portland (near the Rose Quarter, IIRC):

    Extra amused, as I just posted this elsewhere while using your userpic as another fine example of icon/signage.

  11. biggeek says:

    I used to work on Townsend and I would walk by that section every day. That end of the Caltrain lot is used for engine and car repair.

    I always presumed that section that extended out onto Townsend was used to back railroad cars onto the parallel repair tracks.