Happy and Safe Juneteenth 2013

BCD 13063A Juneteenth web graphicJuneteenth* weekend is a wonderful time of family and community celebration.

Austin’s annual Juneteenth Parade and Celebration hosted by the Greater East Austin Youth Association (GEAYA) takes place on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The parade route starts at 10am on MLK and Comal, and ends at Rosewood and Chestnut.

MetroRail, Capital Metro’s commuter rail with 9 stops between Downtown Austin and Leander, runs through a portion of Rosewood Park. The parade ends before the railroad crossing, and with a mix of physical barriers and personnel staffing, our security, safety, and community involvement teams work closely with the City of Austin, Austin Police Department and others to ensure celebration participants have safe passage as they travel to/from the parade route to festivities at Doris Miller and Rosewood Park.

MetroRail is in operation from approximately 6:00am to 7:30pm Monday through Thursday, then from 6:00am to midnight on Fridays, and from 4pm to midnight on Saturdays. (For more detailed information visit our rail schedule online on capmetro.org)

To spread the word about rail safety education to youth, adults, pedestrians, drivers and professional drivers alike, Capital Metro partners with Operation Lifesaver,  a non-profit organization providing public education programs to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.

Please help us to get the word out about rail safety by forwarding information to your friends, family, colleague and neighbors.

MetroRail and Rail Safety

Operation Lifesaver has two easy to remember slogans which may help save your life:

  1. Look, Listen, Live! Look both ways. Listen for the sounds of a train. If a train approaching, stop and yield. If you look and listen, then you with live.
  2. Stay Off, Stay Away, Stay Alive! This reminds us to stay off of railroad tracks and equipment and to never place items on railroad tracks (even the smallest item can shoot out with deadly force).

Expect a train at anytime! MetroRail and freight trains share tracks. Federal regulations prohibit freight and commuter trains to travel at the same time, so when MetroRail is not in operation a freight train may be making its way north or south. Over the years thousands of people in the United States have made fatal mistakes on railroad property. Some did not expect a train; some thought it would be on the other track; some thought it was moving slower; some thought it could stop for them; some thought it would make more noise; and some stood too close.

Trains have a long stopping distance. Did you know that on average, a commuter train (like MetroRail) takes a minimum of 600 feet to stop (that’s the length of two football fields)? Freight trains are much heavier than commuter trains and can average 5,280 feet to stop. That’s 1 mile!  (The equivalent to 18 football fields.) Trains in Central Texas travel, on average, 15-60 miles per hour. The Downtown & Rosewood Park areas usually are on the slower end of the spectrum, due to the curvature of the track (trains go slow on curves).

Stopping Distance

Trains are heavy! The average vehicle weighs about 3,000 lbs; it can easily crush a soda can. A vehicle to a soda can like a freight train to a vehicle. The average freight train weighs 12 million pounds. Compare that to a 3,000 pound vehicle. That’s a 4,000 to 1 weight ratio.

Trespassing is dangerous and illegal. Railroad tracks are private property. People who do not have permission to be on railroad property are trespassing. Property closely surrounding the tracks is called the railroad right-of-way. It also belongs to the railroad and not only is it dangerous, it’s illegal to be there.

Cross only at designated crossings. It is always YOUR responsibility to watch for a train. Some crossings, like the one at Rosewood, have gates, lights and bells. When the gate is down, or the lights are on, that means stay back and stay away–a train is coming. When the gates go up and lights and bells go off, look both ways, if no train is coming then you may cross the tracks. During and around the parade festivities, APD and Capital Metro staff will be on hand. Please follow their direction to cross safely. If you’re riding a bicycle, get off and walk it across.

Trains aren’t always loud. MetroRail, and other lightrail trains, are surprisingly quiet. 30-40 seconds of an engaging conversation, loud music, video on social media, or an interesting text is all that is needed to distract you long enough to miss the faint whoosh of a train approaching or whizzing by.

Limit distractions at crossings. Walk or drive at a railroad crossing with one purpose: to get to the other side, safely. Stay focused; this is not the time for multitasking. Wait to make the call, send a text, or change the song. Remove your headphones, and adjust clothing like hats or hoodies to make sure they don’t obstruct your ability to look and listen.

Trains don’t swerve! Unlike cars, trains don’t have a steering wheel. They can’t steer right or left. They can only follow the track, traveling forward, backward or stop. (See the picture of the inside of an actual locomotive. Photo courtesy of Operation Lifesaver).

Inside train

For more information, including videos and lesson plans on rail safety, visit www.oli.org (Operation Lifesaver) or www.stayoffthetracks.com (be sure to check out the kid’s safety page).

*About Juneteenth 

Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day”, is the oldest known African American celebration commemorating the end of slavery. Slaves were declared free on January 1, 1863, under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln, which declared that all slaves living in states still in rebellion were “then, thenceforward, and forever free”. However, African Americans in Texas were not aware of the proclamation, until June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger, the commander of U.S. Troops in Texas, arrived in Galveston and read General Order 3:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor”.

“Juneteenth” celebrations grew from the efforts of former slaves to mark the moment of their emancipation. In the years following the Civil War, African Americans often met with resistance from the rest of the community to the celebrate “Juneteenth”. To insure that celebrations would continue, many African American communities purchase “emancipation grounds” and moved the celebration to private property. Emancipation Park in East Austin, was such a location. In 1930 the first Juneteenth Celebration was held at Rosewood Park. On January 1, 1980, the bill was passed making “Juneteenth” an official state holiday. (History taken from http://www.juneteenthcentraltexas.com/)

5 thoughts on “Happy and Safe Juneteenth 2013

  1. You said, “Did you know that on average, a commuter train (like MetroRail) takes a minimum of 300 feet to stop (that’s the length of two football fields)?” A football field (not including end zones) is 100 yards long, so that’s only the length one of football field.

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