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Old 09.02.2012, 23:19
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Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

So, today, yet again a person decided that they thought they fancy a game of chicken with a Zurich tram, disrupting traffic and, sadly, his ongoing well-being. Everyone was going on about how dreadful this is until I said what I always think in these situations - being an idiot is dangerous, being an inattentive idiot is potentially lethal. Today's incident annoys me even more because, having seen the location of impact (and the clean-up crew), the guy had no business crossing anyway, as it was near traffic lights which are on red for pedestrians when a tram is coming. When I illegally cross roads, I look in both directions to see if I'm not in the way of anyone, THEN I cross. This stretch of road is straight, you can see for quite some distance, so either he didn't look or he needs his eyes fixing. According to VBZ, 95% of tram accidents are NOT the driver's fault and I absolutely believe that based on the day to day idiocy I see in Zurich's crowded streets. I could rant on forever but I guess what I'd really like to do is to stop someone else being dragged to a pulp in Zurich. So, although I've posted it before, here it goes again, the video of how long it takes for a tram to brake (Swiss German only):
http://www.videoportal.sf.tv/video?i...b-fbcbf548a4d5
Even if the tram is only doing 40km/h, it will carry on going for 30 metres AND that's only when the driver really slams the brakes and the people inside the tram will get injured. I know, I've been injured.

So, how can you be more safe (for simplification purposes I'll talk about trams but this also includes buses)?
At stops:
Make eye-contact with the driver before walking in front of a tram whose lights are flashing (flashing lights = tram about to move) but which cannot pull away just then because there is still traffic in the way. They signal if it's still ok for you to cross BUT pay attention to what is on the second line, there may be someone coming from the opposite direction. A classic mistake people make is to get off the tram and then walk round the back to get to the other side of the street without looking to see if there is a tram in the opposite direction about to pull away. Be smarter and check to see before you walk away. Hold your children by the hand and don't stand too close to the line - there's always that idiot who pushes past you without noticing and some buses swerve quite far into the space where people are waiting.

Remember that public transport is on an incredibly tight and dense schedule, if you decide to dawdle and hold up the tram, you'll make people miss their connections. Feel free to tell Swiss people this too, as quite a few of them have NOT got the memo. Drivers get stressed over being late, which may increase the chances of THEM making a mistake.

"In the wild" aka on open tracks:
This is particularly scary for drivers and the city of Zurich in particular has decided to keep people in cars on their toes via various meeting points between all the things on wheels. Unless you have a traffic light telling you otherwise or the tram is turning left into a depot, the tram ALWAYS, ALWAYS has right of way before cars. And pedestrians. And bikes. And pretty much everyone else except for the police and emergency services whizzing by with their blue lights flashing (meanwhile, buses technically have to stop at pedestrian crossing but can you really not wait 15 seconds to let a bus full of people pass?!). The most expensive colour is blue, the saying goes, by that they mean that having your car get in the way of a tram is very, very costly. When you park, make sure you are well away from any tram lines - those cobra things are wiiiiide (if you have a very long car, don't even think about parking on those spots between Talacker and Paradeplatz - I've seen cars blocking the tram twice).

Unless the road is explicitly marked as "trams and cars go in the same lane" (white lines showing that you have to merge into the lane), you have no business on tram lines with your car. Except if you need to turn into somewhere, then you are allowed to go as far forward as the tram lines / align yourself on them BUT you must check again and again whether a tram is coming. If you are clearly visible from afar, then they tend to slow down and brake but they REALLY don't like doing it - remember the strict timetable thing? You are not allowed to use bus lanes for the same manoeuvre.

For pedestrians, unless you have excellent vision and hearing as well as a natural tendency to be aware of your surroundings at all times, don't cross tram lines outside of designated areas. There is a little bunch of flowers for a fellow student of mine who walked in front of a number ten tram last year just in front of the university campus. She either thought that trams also stopped at pedestrian crossings or she was just not paying attention, either way, she is dead. You can definitely see the tram coming there, I have no idea what she was thinking and feel bad for the driver.

Bahnhofstrasse may seem like a nice street to stroll and shop but remember that there are trams passing every minute or so and it's not enough to check for the one on your side if you want to go from Bally to Sprüngli - there'll be another one creeping up behind it on the other side. And they really can't stop. If you have visitors from abroad, bear this in mind, they'll be chatting, taking photos, having a good time - not watching for trams. I've dived in / shouted at people more times than I can count.

So, summing up, if you see tram tracks in the ground or the electric lines for buses up above you need to unglue your face from your electronic pacifier and get back into the real world, maybe take one head phone out and listen to what's going on and if you are in a car, remember what your instructor told you about looking over your shoulder rather than just the mirrors all those years ago. PLEASE don't be the idiot who tries to "just nip in front" of a tram. Teach your kids that the only person who wins when human goes against tram is the one that was on the waiting list for an organ donor. Maybe not in those words.

Be safe.

Last edited by Kittster; 09.02.2012 at 23:45. Reason: Clearer wording
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:30
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

There are apparently quite a number of suicides here by way of transport. A combination of social stigma and desire to avoid encouraging others into this behaviour means it most often goes unreported in the media. However I now make sure to catch a train 30 mins earlier than I need to be at the airport, not because the trains are bad, but because of the chance that some poor b&^%&D in a final act of selfish desparation steps in front of the train in one of the Orwellian-esque "personal accidents" that the SBB announce from time to time. This has happened to me enough times now that if I really need to catch a flight I won't leave it to chance.

Seeing as you said this incident took place on a clear straight consider the fact that it may have been a deliberate act or a junkie. Or maybe it was just someone who was more caught up in the day-to-day to navigate the sometime bewildering array of traffic (bicycle, pedestrian, tram, car, bus) lanes that make up parts of Zurich.

As far as the safety aspects go it really would help if they painted red lines or something to warn of a tram's width rather than just leaving it to chance. There are enough shocking prices and wondeful goods on the Bahnhofstrasse to distract people and the tram paths can sometimes be rather less than obvious to the uninitiated. Don't get me wrong I am no 'health & safety' freak - the garish adhesive signs on doors all over the UK stating 'exit' serve no useful purpose and I'd rather not be reminded that I could catch cancer every time I take a swim in a California hotel pool but sometimes a little thought and effort would serve a life-saving purpose.
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Last edited by Swissmountainair; 09.02.2012 at 23:42.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:41
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

Funny you should post this. I had an altercation with a prick and his mates who were jumping out in front of traffic yesterday evening in Zurich. Drunk or showing off, I don't know, but 1 of them was walking in the road gesticulating causing the car 1 in front of me to swerve onto the tram tracks to avoid hitting him.

As I drew almost level he jumped out right in front of me, I braked hard but as I was right next to the tram couldn't swerve. He twigged and had an 'oh feck' look on his face as he tried to jump back but miss-timed it.... and literally got a face full of right wing mirror. He wasn't injured I don't think as his mates scooped him up and they all ran off. The guy in the X5 behind me who saw it was shouting abuse at them, but they were to busy scarpering.

Anyway, I reported the incident to the police and they took the details and gave me a breath test etc, and said that they would be taking it no further, and thanked me for my honesty. There was no damage to my car, but I would imagine the dude is a little tender in the 'boat race' department, but he was cm's from ending up under the front wheels.... shook me up a little though.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:44
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

I'm talking about trams, not trains. You have to be quite thick to try and kill yourself by tram, not to mention even more selfish than the train jumpers. And I'm not saying this as someone who's never been seriously depressed or suicidal - I've had very, very dark moments. But I always felt that my problems should not become somebody else's problems too. So that would still make him an idiot who walked in front of a tram, no matter what the motives were. The tram came to a stop shortly after a traffic light, so it looks like the young man was crossing the road when the traffic lights were red for him. Like I said, he was illegally crossing the road, I doubt he would try and be hit by a tram near a pedestrian crossing.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:49
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

This is definitely a major fear of mine. There's a bit of confusion to some who are new/semi-familiar with the rules here with respect to right of way at stripes.

Of course the best rule is always look back and forth, make eye contact with the driver and cross when safe---no debating this.

However in the case of my brother, who spend most of his teens and 20s here (albeit in a smaller village), he was always very staunch about the fact that one could just walk over zebra stripes and cars will stop (compared to Canada where it's officially illegal to cross unless you have a right-of-way 'walk' signal).

On his last visit he was shocked to find that buses have the right-of-way at zebra crossings, not to mention the trams with their longer stopping distance. He was oblivious to this hierarchic.

Please everyone practice safe crossing, especially when listening to personal music devices.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:50
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

I feel very sorry for the victim of that (and every other) death involving trams, and for the victim's family, and for the tram driver. But the concept of placing huge steel battering rams on rails and then inviting people to walk all over the battlefield is lunacy. Yes, I know this wasn't the situation described in Kittster's post, but there's far too much intermingling of trams with pedestrians.

Here's the forecourt of Basel Bahnhof SBB, the busiest public transport interchange in Basel. People have to walk a short distance from the tram terminus to the railway station, straight across the multiple tram lines you can see in the photo, occupied with alarming frequency by trams driven by impatient tram drivers. At this point, the drivers are pretty careful (in my experience), but the amount of bell-ringing and exasperated shaking of heads suggests to me that this set-up isn't too sensible. I'm sure there have been some horrendous accidents here and I hope more don't occur ... but it would take some quick urban replanning to avoid them.



Sorry for derailing the thread a little (see what I did there?), although I think it's relevant. The overall message is still as Kittster stated: PLEASE take utmost care around trams, buses and all other traffic, for that matter!
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:52
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

Here's the official prevention campaign video. I wonder if they would like someone to do it in English for them, as I guess people from abroad might be even less familiar with these things.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:55
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

Quote:
I feel very sorry for the victim of that (and every other) death involving trams, and for the victim's family, and for the tram driver. But the concept of placing huge steel battering rams on rails and then inviting people to walk all over the battlefield is lunacy. Yes, I know this wasn't the situation described in Kittster's post, but there's far too much intermingling of trams with pedestrians.

Here's the forecourt of Basel Bahnhof SBB, the busiest public transport interchange in Basel. People have to walk a short distance from the tram terminus to the railway station, straight across the multiple tram lines you can see in the photo, occupied with alarming frequency by trams driven by impatient tram drivers. At this point, the drivers are pretty careful (in my experience), but the amount of bell-ringing and exasperated shaking of heads suggests to me that this set-up isn't too sensible. I'm sure there have been some horrendous accidents here and I hope more don't occur ... but it wil take some quick urban replanning to avoid them.



Sorry for derailing the thread a little (see what I did there?), although I think it's relevant. The overall message is still as Kittster stated: PLEASE take utmost care around trams, buses and all other traffic, for that matter!
Absolutely agree. In a place where some aspects of life are deliberated and dictated by rules down to the most finite degree to come across a scene like above is one of Switzerland's great contradictions. Naturally people in a main town outside a train station will be lost/dawdling/otherwise engaged. In a country where they will penalise the driver no-end for accidentally missing a 120-100-80km/h speed change by a few metres on the highway it boggles the mind (and I dare say illustrates something unattractive about the true motivating factors at work) that no thought has gone into alleviating the confusion and potential for carnage in the city streets.
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Old 09.02.2012, 23:59
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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Here's the forecourt of Basel Bahnhof SBB,
I nearly walked in front on a tram exactly there in the top photo just last week. I'd already crossed two lines, thought the tram coming would turn across the area behind me - and he didn't, he just kept on coming. Whew.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:12
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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Here's the forecourt of Basel Bahnhof SBB, the busiest public transport interchange in Basel. People have to walk a short distance from the tram terminus to the railway station, straight across the multiple tram lines you can see in the photo, occupied with alarming frequency by trams driven by impatient tram drivers. At this point, the drivers are pretty careful (in my experience), but the amount of bell-ringing and exasperated shaking of heads suggests to me that this set-up isn't too sensible. I'm sure there have been some horrendous accidents here and I hope more don't occur ... but it wil take some quick urban replanning to avoid them.



Sorry for derailing the thread a little (see what I did there?), although I think it's relevant. The overall message is still as Kittster stated: PLEASE take utmost care around trams, buses and all other traffic, for that matter!
Actually the story of that junction is that in the past it was much more ordered with space for trams and for pedestrians and for cars all being well separated with lots of painted lines and zebra crossings and traffic lights and things. But even then there were lots of accidents. So they came up with this theory that of you leave away all the markings and crossings, people will act more respectfully and responsibly. I haven't seen the statistics so don't know if it worked.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:14
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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I nearly walked in front on a tram exactly there in the top photo just last week. I'd already crossed two lines, thought the tram coming would turn across the area behind me - and he didn't, he just kept on coming. Whew.
Glad to have you still with us, Longbyt. I've also had a couple of close calls there. At times the high frequency of tram arrivals and departures, coupled with the number of lines/tracks and switching options, make it impractical to simply wait for a prolonged tram-free period to cross the square in perfect safety.

Unfortunately, this isn't the only tram-pedestrian collision hazard around. You need to keep your wits about you in Barfüsserplatz, Aeschenplatz and Maktplatz (come to think of it, maybe Anything-platz) in Basel, and Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich, as someone already mentioned.

Last edited by Guest; 10.02.2012 at 00:52. Reason: Getting the name right
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:16
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

So everything should be changed because a few people don't understand the concept of "either brain on or you dead"? Maybe growing up with a family that made their own fireworks changes you but since I was a small child I knew that I would get ZERO sympathy for getting hurt while doing something stupid. And I also knew that not paying attention to the rules or misjudging a situation can be very detrimental to your health.

I feel that people are getting thicker and have less common sense and part of the problem IS that we have so many people telling us what to do - we stop thinking. Add to that a generation that thinks that they and their smart phone are the centre of the universe and you have a pretty mess. There is now a leaflet out to teach pedestrians how to move safely in traffic, that's how bad it seems to have become.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:18
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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Actually the story of that junction is that in the past it was much more ordered with space for trams and for pedestrians and for cars all being well separated with lots of painted lines and zebra crossings and traffic lights and things. But even then there were lots of accidents. So they came up with this theory that of you leave away all the markings and crossings, people will act more respectfully and responsibly. I haven't seen the statistics so don't know if it worked.
Mmmmm. Brilliant.

And in breaking news, the lunatics have been handed the keys to the asylum.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:22
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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So everything should be changed because a few people don't understand the concept of "either brain on or you dead"? Maybe growing up with a family that made their own fireworks changes you but since I was a small child I knew that I would get ZERO sympathy for getting hurt while doing something stupid. And I also knew that not paying attention to the rules or misjudging a situation can be very detrimental to your health.

I feel that people are getting thicker and have less common sense and part of the problem IS that we have so many people telling us what to do - we stop thinking. Add to that a generation that thinks that they and their smart phone are the centre of the universe and you have a pretty mess. There is now a leaflet out to teach pedestrians how to move safely in traffic, that's how bad it seems to have become.
I'm with you with regard to the anti-nanny state sentiment. One of the things I love about Switzerland is the attitude that everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. But I wouldn't call Longbyt (or me, for that matter) stupid, yet both of us have brushed a little too close to Swiss public transport.

There's a common-sense line to be drawn and I think that tram route planning here generally misses the mark.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:23
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

My point was to draw attention to the fact that areas of life that are of little comparative importance as life itself tend to be ruled and dictated and penalised down to the most extreme degrees at times here whilst something as glaringly dangerous as the above is just left. Basel is a multi-cultural place. A lot of people go there who were not raised according to the Swiss way. In most other Western developed world cities clear markings on roads and areas such as the above unmarked square would indicate a pedestrianised area.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:30
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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I'm with you with regard to the anti-nanny state sentiment. One of the things I love about Switzerland is the attitude that everyone is responsible for their own behaviour. But I wouldn't call Longbyt (or me, for that matter) stupid, yet both of us have brushed a little too close to Swiss public transport.

There's a common-sense line to be drawn and I think that tram route planning here generally misses the mark.
I don't think you are stupid, I'm sorry if that's what you got out of what I said. Out of curiosity I had a look at the aerial view of the spot and it looks like the planners assumed that people can figure out the safe places to cross, which there are, but I think that's easier from the air than on the ground. From the air I can see white lines - the look like those that are for the blind and they generally put those in such a way that a tram driver will have time to spot a blind person and stop. Consequently, if you are a seeing person and unsure about the safest place to take on a place like Centralbahnplatz, follow the white lines. But you still need to look, obviously, and it means you might have to walk an additional five or ten metres.

If there is a rule I would like to see gone then it's the priority for pedestrians on pedestrian crossings. For some reason, pedestrians think cars will stop everywhere for them. I think this attitude is also part of the problem with people walking in front of trams.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:31
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

Thanks for the vid Kittster - it is really eye-opening. I've circulated the link to friends and family here.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:33
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

I organised a visit to the tram depot in Bern, and they demonstrated on the front of the old trams there is a basket type scoop, that drops down and stops the victim going under the tram. I think the new lowered ones might just push the victim aside.
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:33
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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So, summing up, if you see tram tracks in the ground or the electric lines for buses up above you need to unglue your face from your electronic pacifier and get back into the real world,
Great post kitts - especially that part. Cracked me up.

Besides the people who arent too sharp about their surroundings, we have those who like to live dangerously. Too often have I seen people trying to beat the tram by running across in front of it at the Bahnhofquai and Bahnhofplatz stops (for non-Zürichers: very very busy tram stops with high human and tram traffic) despite the driver ringing his bell to give the warning that the tram is moving off.

Very dangerous especially in the weather we're having where the ground's icy and you're prone to slipping....
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Old 10.02.2012, 00:46
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Re: Idiots who walk in front of trams and buses

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On his last visit he was shocked to find that buses have the right-of-way at zebra crossings[...]
Buses don't. Trams do.
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common sense, darwin award nominees, public transport, safety first, trams




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