After four students at Gunn High School committed suicide "at or near the same Caltrain crossing in Palo Alto," a group of area parents have asked Caltrain to reduce the speed of trains to a staggeringly slow 5 miles per hour.
ABC 7 reports that area parents want to see train speeds reduced to between West Meadow Drive and Charleston Road, the area where the teens died via train impact. (Every week in the U.S., 7 people die by jumping in front of trains according to a recent study.) So much so, in fact, they've concocted a petition:
The Palo Alto community has been devastated by the tragic loss of lives on the Caltrain tracks. We now have a suicide hot spot in the section of the tracks at West Meadow and Charleston. We need time as a community to come together and address the underlying problem of teen depression. It is well documented that direct action must be taken at a suicide hot spot to deter further attempts.
We ask Caltrain to implement a schedule, effective immediately, of slowing all trains from West Meadow to Charleston to a speed of 5 MPH in order to prevent further suicides on the tracks in this area.
In preparing this request our research has turned up a number of facts that support this measure.
1. They will not go elsewhere. Research has shown that individuals bent on suicide at a hot spot will not simply move further down the tracks. See links.
2. If you restrict access to the ‘means’ you will reduce the number of incidents. It has been proven that even a small impediment at a suicide hot spot reduces the number of incidents at that spot. This is why we are also watching the tracks. We believe that this vigilance, in combination with slower trains will reduce the number of incidents and perhaps stop them.
3. In the case of a suicide hot spot the threshold for the individuals who may be considering suicide is lowered. This is especially true for teens . This means the existence of the hot spot and access to it is increasing the number of incidents.
4. Although teen suicide has many possible causes and there are many preventive measures we may take as a community, slowing the trains is a short term solution.
Although a train at 5mph may be no less deadly, we believe it will be less attractive while giving us the chance to clear the tracks and giving the driver time to stop... [read the rest of the petition here.]
Seeing as how the Bay Area is always in desperate need of decent, on-time public transportation, this simply cannot happen. (Any foamers out there want to calculate the delay time with a speed reduction of 5 MPH? Give us your figures in the comments.) But what say you, readers?