Santa Cruz County railroad to enforce track trespass rules

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Saturday, July 25, 2009
By Yokota Fritz

The Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railroad right of way is a very popular corridor for cyclists and walkers to travel between the city of Santa Cruz and Henry Cowell State Park, Felton and beyond into Santa Cruz County. Big Trees management has always been supportive of cycling in Santa Cruz County and took a very relaxed attitude about cyclists riding along the railroad, but junkies using the right of way for their activities are forcing Big Trees to protect their right of way.

Because they say trespass enforcement must be applied equally to everybody (huh?), railroad officials this weekend handed out warnings informing cyclists and walkers that they will begin to cite people for trespassing soon.

Props to Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz president Mark Davidson.


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I understand that trespassing is a huge liability issue for the railroads. In my locale, there are a few bike paths that are not easily accessed except by trespassing on RR property (crossing tracks). The police regularly issue $500 citations. No, that is not a typo - $500 is the fine.
Liability can be a problem in many states, but in California it's not an issue at all -- if you die or are injured on railroad tracks in California, the railroad is not at fault, regardless of any efforts (or not) on the RR part to enforce trespassing.

In Santa Cruz County, for example, a railroad trestle bridge is a common route for walkers and cyclists to cross over the San Lorenzo River near the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. The RR owner never enforces its property rights along the railroad; and lawsuits brought against Union Pacific for injuries are routinely dismissed.
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