New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) recently met with railroad tycoons BNSF to discuss ideas on how cycling near/across the poorly angled train tracks at El Pueblo Rd. N.E. could be made safer. One of many such meetings held over the years on the subject by representatives of the many governmental and private entities involved, BNSF officials basically told NMDOT folks to “get lost.”
Specifically, BNSF told NMDOT (and through them the cycling community) that nothing will be done by BNSF to:
- Correct the angle of the tracks
- Allow a multi-use path to be constructed along the tracks
- Work with NMDOT or any other entity or person to make cycling safer
Despite its technological status as antiquated conveyance in this instance used to transport very few goods a very short distance from near Journal Center to the main tracks near the Los Ranchos Rail Runner station, BNSF doesn’t think it should have to do anything despite the fact these tracks have caused countless injuries over the years to cyclists.
Better Burque and others have more recently brought this long-standing problem back to greater public attention, and we have roughly 30 stories from those kind enough to send in personal stories of crash and injury over these tracks. The area’s governmentally-appointed bicycle committee is sending a letter to BNSF offices with concerns, but to quote Sufjan Stevens when relating the seeming effectiveness of praying at bible study for a young woman suffering from bone cancer, when it comes to dealing with the transportation God that is BNSF: “nothing ever happens.”
A search of public records shows that a few have sued BNSF and other involved entities, including a case apparently leading to an out-of-court settlement with the antiquated, yet inexplicably still powerful train company.
But perhaps BNSF’s power isn’t that inexplicable, for the same reason transfer of power from entrenched aged christian white guys to other genders and ethnicities is proving so difficult. BNSF has the “stuff” (property, capitalism, big choo-choos) and they’re desperately holding on to their century-old robber baron gains as long as the people in power represent big choo-choo over little ‘ol us. There’s a certain quaintness to it all, until once again considers how many cyclists are getting injured crashing over all this 19th Century Railroad Tycoon bullshit.
In a more equitable transportation system, one not based in power dynamics around which form of transport is literally (phallically) bigger and has powers invested from a time rigged for its success and domination, we (NMDOT, City of Albuquerque, common folks) would just make BNSF reconfigure the layout of these tracks.
Instead, we can’t even make BNSF completely give up dominion over tracks now across one of the most 21st Century thoroughfares in New Mexico: Paseo del Norte.
This is why history is so cool. Without an understanding of the historical context for seeming irrationality, screwed up situations like the train tracks at El Pueblo don’t make any sense. From any logical 2019 perspective, BNSF’s power in this and other situations (e.g., the complete power of freight rail over passenger rail in this country) is bizarrely anachronistic.
No, it makes sense. It’s just old christian white guys desperately holding on to their historically ill-begotten stuff.