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Symposium Addressed How to Keep Preoccupied Walkers Safe Around Railways

An increase in pedestrian train accidents and fatalities is prompting officials to discuss how to keep cellphone-chatting, iPod-listening, Kindle-reading and otherwise distracted pedestrians safe around trains.

The Northwestern University Transportation Center, along with the city of Lake Forest, Ill., is sponsoring a Pedestrian Rail Safety Symposium was held from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 22, in room G-40 (lower level) of the Donald P. Jacobs Center, 2001 Sheridan Road, on the Evanston campus.

The goal of the symposium was to generate recommendations that will encourage change in pedestrian behavior and reduce the number of accidents. A recent spike in pedestrian train accidents and the increasing prevalence and speed of commuter trains and light rail vehicles, which often travel at ground level, are of particular concern.

The symposium featured Northwestern faculty, leaders from local municipalities and railroad safety groups. After introductory speakers presented data and opened the discussion, attendees broke into subgroups to develop recommendations for creative means for communicating safety to the walking public.

The Transportation Center is a leading interdisciplinary education and research institution at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. It is dedicated to the long-term improvement of domestic and international systems for the movements of materials, people, energy and information.

Lake Forest, with two train stations, is committed to the safety of commuters and residents. Earlier this year, Lake Forest Mayor James Cowhey appointed a transportation safety enhancement committee to recommend initiatives to reduce accidents and enhance safety.

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