Gurney a stretcher
When I saw the news on TV3 last night the first things that flashed through my mind - fast, but perhaps not as fast as the train - is why has there been no mention of the police charging him for what by his own admission was entirely his own fault, and secondly that Gurney, being a professional runner and cyclist, is just the sort of arrogant wanker that routinely presumes they have immunity from the road rules. And seeing as how he only got a scratch I doubt he would have learnt anything from the experience - in fact he was quoted on TV3 and in today's NZ Herald as being mystified by the event. Mystified, confused but at no point taking any responsibility:
He said the crash was a blur and he was still trying to piece together what went wrong.
"I'm confused about how I ended up T-boning with a train.
"I'm a professional athlete that's used to looking for danger, I'm the last person that expects to have a crash with a train. It raises questions how did I get in that situation?"
On TV3 he was going further, blaming the existence of level crossings and suggesting they need to be examined! If only self-examination was in his play book.
As I said it is probably precisely because he is a professional cyclist and runner that he brazenly ignores the normal, commonsense rules to which everyone else adheres. We all know the type of super-serious cyclist and runner on the streets who keep barreling through intersections with barely a glance and expect others to avoid them no matter how in the wrong they are. They behave recklessly towards their own safety and endanger other users - it's what they do as a matter of course. They must think that because they are more vulnerable than a motor vehicle that they therefore have an automatic right of way and this bubble of exception is projected wherever they choose to go. When Gurney applied the same attitude to a train at a level crossing you think he would have learnt his lesson? Of course not - it's everyone elses fault.
The only difference between a level crossing and an intersection of a road that articulated trucks go along at 100kmph+ is that the level crossing has better signage and is also marked by painted stripes on the carriageway. There is simply no argument here - the difference in the two cases is that some people just don't respect the train crossings and treat them all as an optional give way situation - as if they were abandoned lines.
Gurney should be charged and he should also be made to pay Kiwi Rail for the delay and cost of interrupting the passengers. An apology - if it comes at all - will be quite false as he has already shown his inability to comprehend his actions.
Having said all that - in the situation of Auckland and the planned increase in services on the exisiting old lines which have many level crossing sections throughout the city - it must be taken into account that the Gurneys of this world do exist and because they are arrogant and reckless wankers they are impervious to all manner of education, signage and warning systems. The dazed elderly motorist, the manic courier driver, the inattentive pedestrian etc., will continue to cause accidents regardless.
The increase in services will inevitably increase the accidents and death toll if every - every single - level crossing in the metropolitan area is not removed. It will be expensive - but no more so than the electrification project. With trains every five or less than five minutes the road traffic - and pedestrains - will backlog and in the frustration become more likely to attempt to run through the barrier arms. If the trains are really going to be running as frequently as they need to to become a world class service then the urban level crossings must be phased out.