Is It Legal to Walk on Train Tracks in New York State?
There's something about walking on train tracks that's inherently youthful... probably because almost every kid has done it.
Growing up here in Central New York, you're usually not far from some unused rail lines in a rural area, overgrown with weeds. I remember as a kid in Richfield Springs, there were some near my house, and it was fun to take long, aimless walks down those tracks. You knew a train was never going to come... or at least you thought it wouldn't.
BUT... IS IT LEGAL TO WALK THEM?
Guess what? It's actually not. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Commission reads you the riot act on their official webpage:
It is illegal to access private railroad property anywhere other than a designated pedestrian or roadway crossing. Trespassers are most often pedestrians who walk across or along railroad tracks as a shortcut to another destination. Some trespassers are loitering; engaged in recreational activities such as jogging, taking pictures, hunting, fishing, bicycling or operating recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs).
I'll admit, this is a little disheartening. On a fundamental level, I understand that getting hit by a train is... not ideal. Doesn't seem like something you'll easily walk away from. But on the other hand, it seems extremely unlikely. Another way of putting it is that it seems very easy to not get hit by a train. Trains make a lot of noise, and you can see them coming from like a mile away. Plenty of time to get far away from the tracks before it obliterates you, one would think.
Who enforces such laws is unknown to me. I've never heard of a kid being ticketed for walking on tracks. Someone might tell you to "scram, kid!" but I can't see it going beyond that. This just seems like one of those laws that people break everyday and nobody bats an eye.
I do, however, think there should be laws against tying damsels in distress to train tracks. I'm fully in support of that one.