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Turning the tables on traffic safety responsibility

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 19th, 2013 at 10:55 am

"TriMore" parody site targeted
at TriMet's safety campaign.

It's that time of year when many commutes happen in the dark and transportation agencies and advocacy groups roll out their safety promotion campaigns. You know the campaigns, they encourage people to wear bright, reflective clothing, and implore people to take extra caution when bicycling and walking.

Here in Portland, TriMet has been doing their 'Be Seen Be Safe' promotion for several years. It includes a fashion show and a contest to see who has the most highly visible bike and/or body. And just this morning we saw the following in our Twitter stream from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration:

We've covered these campaigns in the past; but this year for some reason we haven't felt compelled by TriMet's PR pitches. The campaigns are obviously well-intended; but if safety is truly the goal, why not focus on the most rampant and dangerous behaviors?

On this note, Brian Davis, a transportation analyst for an engineering firm in downtown Portland, has penned an article on Portland Transport that captures a frustration that is growing more common among traffic safety advocates.

"There’s a patronizing naiveté in the implication that all of our anxious moments would abate if only we’d liven up our dour wardrobes with a few shades of traffic cone," Davis writes. "I can wear all the shiny shit I want, but it won’t make me nearly as bright as a smartphone screen if that’s where a driver’s gaze is fixed... 'Be Seen, Be Safe' is a symptom of an auto-centric worldview where if a pedestrian or bicyclist is unseen by a driver then they must have been unseeable."

Via that article, we came across an elaborate parody of TriMet's official 'Be Seen Be Safe' website. With the spoof name of "TriMore," the website's authors have turned the tables on the campaign by changing 'Be Seen Be Safe' to 'Look up. Slow down.' The site is targeted toward the act of driving and it reminds us that "Changing seasons is a time to step up your alertness" when behind the wheel.

At the TriMore site, people are encouraged to stop texting and/or looking at phones while driving and they're even told to paint their vehicle a bright color. "Including reflection to your everyday commuting car is essential to visibility during low-light hours," the site reads. Here's a shot of their safety tips:

There's no harm in reminding road users to use caution during the dark, rainy winter season. But there's a point where transportation agencies and advocacy groups might want to consider a more balanced approach with messages that address the most common and dangerous behaviors while doling out advice that's more commensurate with road users' capacity to do harm.

Links:
Shedding Some Light on "Be Seen, Be Safe" by Brian Davis on the Portland Transport blog.
TriMore parody site

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Comments
  • rob November 19, 2013 at 11:16 am

    amen

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  • Blake November 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Yup, was wearing bright orange jacket and had a front light yesterday and riding through a green light on N Interstate and almost, almost got hit by someone turning right out of the Kaiser Permanente parking lot against a red light without looking. But I apparently getting hit would have been my fault because I wasn't ___________. Finish the sentence, TriMet, please, make my day.

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  • BURR November 19, 2013 at 11:28 am

    well done!

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  • Susan Otcenas November 19, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Spot on.

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  • spare_wheel November 19, 2013 at 11:41 am

    i'm a big fan of ninjas. they cause motorists to go "WHOAAAA! WTF!!!!" and pay attention. just imagine how much safer cycling at night would be if we had 10% ninja mode share.

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    • Blake November 19, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Signing up now for ninja training. That will keep me safe on the rides home in the dark :)

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      • Ralph November 19, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        Just like in baseball: "They can't hit what they can't see." ?????

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        • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 5:16 pm

          Right. Until they do, because the wise ninja's dark gear doesn't allow people driving to see them until a collision is unavoidable.

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          • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

            wsbob,
            collisions are never unavoidable. What happened to 'driving too fast for conditions'? What happened to paying attention to your surroundings?
            You might want to revisit Hans Monderman's ideas. He was the guy who took away all or most of the signage to get people to actively pay more attention to what was going on around them in traffic rather than passively relying on signs to tell everyone exactly what to do and when. Your reply above suggests you would think this a very bad idea. But by some accounts it was successful.

            I can legally cross a street on foot at any intersection and I can wear black, or purple, or nothing at all. If you are in a car you need to anticipate those possibilities.

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            • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

              In principle, easy to say; in reality, be prepared not to be seen, and possibly injured or killed applying that idealistic principle. No amount of wishful thinking about people driving motor vehicles incessantly 'paying attention'...which relatively few human beings outside of guys like Chuck Yeager in an earlier day are capable of...changes the fact that the rider of a bike, relative to a motor vehicle, in a collision, is the vulnerable road user.

              Each to their own where there personal safety is concerned. Anybody riding that wants to dress for riding, in fashionably dark gear, refraining from visibility aiding materials: go ahead...it's your life. Just don't expect people that drive to accept the blame you seek to shift to them for your having abdicated your personal responsibility for helping people that drive, see you on the road.

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              • Jeff M November 19, 2013 at 10:27 pm

                Agreed. I'm all for drivers being held accountable, but accountable won't protect you.

                Ride defensively. Dress appropriately.

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              • Dimitrios November 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

                "Each to their own where there personal safety is concerned. Anybody riding that wants to dress for riding, in fashionably dark gear, refraining from visibility aiding materials: go ahead...it's your life. Just don't expect people that drive to accept the blame you seek to shift to them for your having abdicated your personal responsibility for helping people that drive, see you on the road"

                9watts gave the example of crossing on foot so there is no requirement for personal illuminating/reflective equipment. On the bike, the legal requirement is front light rear light/reflector. If you meet the minimum legal standards, isn't the shift in blame moving from driver to pedestrian/cyclist?

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                • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 5:27 pm

                  "...If you meet the minimum legal standards, isn't the shift in blame moving from driver to pedestrian/cyclist?" Dimitrios

                  It could, and likely would. In the event of a collision occurring between motor vehicle and bike, in which the bike did have the required visibility gear, I think that of course would bring the actions of the person driving under greater scrutiny as to whether through some fault of theirs, they failed to notice the lights/reflector.

                  Ideally though, people biking will be aware of the types of situations they're riding in, and enhance the detectability of the minimum legally required front light/rear reflector, with more visibility gear as they feel the situation may call for.

                  Helping to avoid close calls and collisions, rather than simply avoiding a citation for not having front light, rear reflector, should be the objective of having good visibility gear, that's more than the minimum required.

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              • PorterStout November 20, 2013 at 1:28 pm

                I've almost collided with people ON MY BIKE after dark when they appear out of nowhere wearing dark clothing and no lights whatsoever. Comparing them to Ninjas is a disservice to that honored and feared order. Ninjas were stealthy, not stupid.

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              • dr2chase November 20, 2013 at 5:22 pm

                wsbob, you persist in confusing what is prudent with what is legally required, it's annoying, and tends towards victim blaming. If a pedestrian or cyclist is reflectorized to the minimum legal standard, a driver who cannot see them soon enough to stop must be driving too fast for conditions. (Note that in some states the pedestrian is also allowed to be quite drunk -- it may not be wise, but it is legal, which means that "conditions" includes the possibility of drunk pedestrians clad in matte black).

                That very many drivers do in fact drive too fast, and that the vast majority of these fast drivers go ticketed, are two sad facts well known to experienced cyclists and pedestrians, and thus prudent people will dress more gaudily than the legal minimum. But nonetheless, prudence is not required, merely advised, and lack of pedestrian prudence should not be a legitimate defense.

                As to how to be prudent, I think reflective clothing is not the way to go. High-powered LED spotlights are more my speed. If a little light is good, a lot must be excellent, right? And what better way to be sure that they can see you, than to illuminate their face -- you know they're looking when their hand goes up to shield their eyes. :-) :-) :-)

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                • Dimitrios November 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm

                  Yea, this is what I was getting at in my exchange above.

                  Legal responsibility while motoring is actually quite high relative to the perception of responsibility. Conversely, the legal responsibility of peds/cyclists is quite low relative to perception of responsibility (i.e. sidewalk/road/crosswalk transitioning, signaling turns, lighting). Following the unwritten rules of common sense according to the populous vs actual traffic code will put you in such logical conflict to cause implosion. It's messy.

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                • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

                  If a pedestrian or cyclist is reflectorized to the minimum legal standard, a driver who cannot see them soon enough to stop must be driving too fast for conditions. ..." dr2chase

                  I don't think that's necessarily so...and while people could probably research the law and those that wrote it, and argue for some time about what they find, I doubt very much that the legally required bike visibility requirement was conceived to provide sufficient visibility detection to drivers for the range of conditions the rider of a bike today may encounter on the road. Perhaps it is time to upgrade the minimum legally required visibility gear for bikes.

                  A front light and a rear reflector are the minimum necessary to aid visual detection under quite a limited range of conditions. Routinely, many of them in use are so small and dim that they barely enable visual detection. Add to this the fact that many people riding use only the front light/rear reflector to aid visual detection, with the rest of their gear and bike of dark material, causing them to virtually disappear under certain conditions frequently present on roads and streets.

                  Relying only on the minimum required visibility detection gear, is not prudent, when conditions call for better visibility.

                  And by the way...shining your high powered lights in peoples' eyes, blinding them, causing them to shield their eyes with their hands is, no pun intended, is stupid.

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    • Joseph E November 19, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      And 95% of pedestrians are "ninjas." In most cities 99% of people walk around at night with no reflectors or lights. Drivers (and people on bikes!) need to look out of pedestrians too. That's why a headlight is the one really important thing for your bike: so you can see pedestrians.

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      • spare_wheel November 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm

        the narrow beam of the typical bike light is not that useful for pedestrian detection -- especially if it's focused on the roadway. i tend to rely on my endogenous visual circuitry, street lighting, and/or moderation of speed for ped detection in an urban environment.

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        • GlowBoy November 20, 2013 at 12:58 pm

          I disagree. Most bike lights I've used that put out a useful amount of light for illuminating dark, wet roads also have enough "spill" to their beams to help illuminate pedestrians.

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  • Anne Hawley November 19, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I covered my bike with LED rice lights after the time change. I don't mind looking ridiculous and using up rechargeable batteries all winter long if it makes drivers notice me, but, like the man said, even my sparkly fairy bike doesn't out-glow a smartphone screen in a dark car.

    Mind you, ten year old pedestrians point and shout in glee, but then, they aren't really part of the problem, are they?

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  • GlowBoy November 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    I agree, we shouldn't NEED to go so far out of our way to make ourselves conspicuous out there. What I'd really like to see is more campaigns saying "Hey, it's harder to see in the dark, rainy season. Pay extra attention, put down the smartphone, get your wiper blades changed, and for God's sake SLOW DOWN!"

    That said - I still go for the full trifecta: bright colors for daytime and twilight visibility, reflective materials for when a motorist's headlights are aimed at me, bright lighting for when they're not aimed at me.

    The distraction/smartphone problem is ever more reason to do this, because it makes it more likely that I'll be seen out of the corner of a distracted driver's eye, or (because I'm noticeable from a greater distance) I'm more likely to get noticed in one of the brief instants when that driver glances at the road.

    A lot of newer cars (my own included, and numerous others that we test-drove) have HUGE blind spots, not just in back but in front too, thanks to the combination of larger side mirrors and raked-back, thick, airbag-containing A-pillars. This is a big change in car design that hasn't been talked about much, and many drivers of newer cars aren't fully aware of their frontal blind spots. Being conspicuous from a greater distance improves my chances that a driver will see me BEFORE I disappear into that blind spot.

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  • Chris I November 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I have a problem with these safety campaigns, but only because they generally don't include precautions for drivers as well. I think it is a great idea to increase your visibility at night and in poor weather. You are more likely to be seen by motorists, and you are more likely to see other riders and pedestrians. But ethically, and sometimes legally, motorists have more responsibility to not hit you with their vehicles, and these campaigns need to note that. Instruct motorists to ensure that their lights are functioning, their brakes and steering are tuned, and they drive vigilantly at a safe speed for the conditions.

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    • nuovorecord November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Good points, Chris. Just for fun, I scanned the AAA Oregon website to see if they had posted anything along the lines of promoting being extra aware of cyclists and pedestrians. Nada, zip, zilch, naught...you get the idea.

      Maybe next year, TriMet and AAA could team up on a coordinated message? I do think there's value in reminding those of us walking and riding our bikes to be visible. But the onus is ultimately on those of us driving in our cars to make sure we're seeing vulnerable users of the road. Slow down, put the g*d**n mobile phone away, and pay extra attention.

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    • nuovorecord November 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Slight correction to my post above. I found this press release, related to Halloween. It's a start, but the AAA could be a real leader on this issue if they chose to.

      http://www.oregon.aaa.com/news/aaa-releases.aspx

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      • El Biciclero November 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm

        It often seems like AAA wants to scare people into cars, not make it safer to be out of your car.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      "...But ethically, and sometimes legally, motorists have more responsibility to not hit you with their vehicles, ..." Chris I

      More responsibility? Is that supposed to suggest a comparison? To what?

      I think the objection to these visibility safety campaigns is mainly quibbling, a ploy on the part of some that ride, to evade responsibility for utilizing, simple, affordable effective means of aiding people that drive to more easily detect vulnerable road users.

      If some of you believe there aren't enough campaigns urging people that drive to be more watchful of vulnerable road users...get busy. Put some serious, useful campaigns of that nature together. Maybe the BTA has a produced a campaign of that sort this season. If it has, let's hear about it.

      What I can tell of Brian Davis's article from the excerpt in this bikeportland story, isn't encouraging in terms of promoting better road user safety. Sounds as if it's just more rationalizing why people riding and walking should make no effort to help people driving see them.

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      • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        "I think the objection to these visibility safety campaigns is mainly quibbling, a ploy on the part of some that ride, to evade responsibility"

        Right. You would think that.

        Why so black and white? Why can't you appreciate that ,as some of us have pointed out here for years, not running over others in low light conditions is a problem that deserves a more informed approach than the those not in cars should dress up like flag-crews angle we keep hearing about from all sides. I wear reflective vests when I bike at night, but I can't stand being told to when the same campaign not only overlooks the source of the problem: driving distracted/too fast for conditions/on autopilot but has the nerve to imply that my garb is the thing that will keep me safe. Poppycock. Do I need to remind you that Christeen Osborn was run over in broad daylight on a straight stretch of highway wearing high-viz garb?

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        • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

          "...I wear reflective vests when I bike at night, but I can't stand being told to..." 9watts

          If you're already wearing the gear, the campaign isn't directed to you.

          Numerous people commenting here seem to think there aren't safety campaigns directed towards people driving, urging them to be on the watch for difficult to detect people that walk or bike. I don't know, maybe there aren't. If you're not happy about that, do something about it instead of trying to make up some rationalization to dissuade vulnerable road users from using means to make themselves more visually detectable by people driving.

          An informed approach to people that drive, about people walking, biking, skateboarding, etc. ...vulnerable road users...that are difficult to see because these road users often do not use visibility aiding gear, can help raise awareness of the fact that vulnerable road users are difficult to see.

          That approach doesn't change the basic fact that vulnerable road users often are not meeting their responsibility to help people that drive, visually detect their presence.

          Use of visibility gear can't 100 percent guarantee that collisions won't happen. Very possibly though, visibility gear could help reduce the chances of collisions occurring. Even more likely, use of visibility gear will reduce the likelihood of close calls occurring.

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          • John Lascurettes November 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm

            Right? Maybe we need the BTA to create a campaign for the drivers of cars, truck and TriMet equipment. Then again, that's kind of what this Website in the article is all about.

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            • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 11:48 pm

              "...Then again, that's kind of what this Website in the article is all about." John Lascurettes

              I wonder, between the two, which media source Portland Metro area residents are more likely to be aware of safety messages from: Trimet, or bikeportland?

              By the way, I wonder what the presence is, of vulnerable road user reminders and campaigns, in-house at Trimet. Trimet being the presenter of a safety campaign to the public urging people walking and biking to enhance their visibility to drivers, most certainly with the transit agency's bus drivers in mind, this is something that would be good to know.

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      • Brian Davis November 19, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        I'd humbly ask that you read the entire article before drawing conclusions about it. Kind of silly to make a guess based on the three lines that Jonathan chose to highlight. Maybe then you can offer a more potent critique than the tired line on evading responsibility. Or maybe, just maybe, you might agree with my point that, while it's a good idea to be visible, this is not the be-all, end-all of pedestrian safety. In fact, much of pedestrian safety is up to the drivers they're sharing the road with.

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        • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 10:10 pm

          "...you might agree with my point that, while it's a good idea to be visible, this is not the be-all, end-all of pedestrian safety. In fact, much of pedestrian safety is up to the drivers they're sharing the road with. ..." Brian Davis

          I haven't read your article yet...and I may..but I can tell you without reading it, that I readily agree that visibility is not the be all, end all of pedestrian safety, and that yes, much of pedestrian safety and the safety of people riding bikes is up to the safety of drivers they're sharing the road with.

          What I don't agree with, is the idea that vulnerable road users should not shoulder the responsibility to take measures that can help people driving motor vehicles see them. Or, the idea that because, for riders displaying it, use of visibility gear does not 100 percent preclude the occurrence of collisions between bikes and cars, that somehow completely negates the value or need to use such gear.

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          • dr2chase November 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm

            "What I don't agree with, is the idea that vulnerable road users should not shoulder the responsibility to take measures that can help people driving motor vehicles see them."

            Wsbob, before we start talking about "responsibility", let's talk about "the law". There's plenty of laws that say that drivers should not run into pedestrians, and precious few that place any obligation on the pedestrian.

            You're inventing extra-legal notions of "responsibility" when drivers aren't even expected (in the sense of being ticketed for failure, so, not expected) to fulfill their plain legal responsibility. The reason for pedestrians and cyclists to dress like traffic cone is not to be "responsible", it is because drivers as a group are a bunch of lawbreaking clods who can't be bothered to slow down enough to observe what is right in front of them.

            That is, you're expecting pedestrians and cyclists to exceed legal minimums because drivers cannot meet legal minimums.

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            • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm

              I'm hoping pedestrians and cyclists will choose to exceed legal minimums for visibility gear that will help people driving to see them, because pedestrians and cyclists are vulnerable road users.

              It's not possible to invent something that already exists. Responsibility for self preservation is one example.

              Rather than advise people to help themselves be seen by people that drive, it appears your response to hazards of the road, is to call people that drive, names...and make excuses as to why vulnerable road user should do very little, if anything at all to help themselves be visible to people that drive.

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              • dr2chase November 20, 2013 at 9:46 pm

                I was sort of hoping for drivers to bring their behavior all the way up to meet legal minimums. I'm plenty reflectorized and lit because I'm well aware that they don't, but I don't do it because I want to be "responsible" and I don't want to "help" the drivers -- I do it because a non-trivial fraction carelessly break various traffic laws, among them, speeding, either over the posted limit, or too fast to see what is in front of them. Perhaps there is a legal theory that says that a driver can plow into a pedestrian crossing a road without breaking a law, but my default assumption is that such a disaster could not happen without at least one traffic law violation (except in NYC, of course, where no criminality is ever suspected). And there is no law regulating appearance of pedestrians -- unless the pedestrian entered the roadway illegally, it must be the driver.

                You need to get your language right. You cannot, cannot, cannot sell exceeding legal minimums as "responsible" when the goal of this so-called responsibility is to protect yourself from dangerous scofflaws (this is not calling names -- they do break the law, and they are dangerous). "Self-defense", maybe. But not "responsibility" -- because that implies that merely obeying the law is "irresponsible", even though the drivers who actually break laws escape prosecution or sanction altogether.

                Furthermore, there are no "modern conditions" that would obsolete the old laws about what is or is not a safe speed. Car lights are better now; an old-laws legal-minimum reflector kicks back correspondingly more light than it did in the bad-old-days. Furthermore, there is a remedy for poor visibility that worked then, and works now, and modern cars can do it just fine -- slow down. There's this pedal to the left of the accelerator, perhaps you have heard of it?

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                • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm

                  "I was sort of hoping for drivers..." dr2chase

                  In that regard, do all the hoping you want. Relative to motor vehicles, people on bikes are, and always will be vulnerable road users. Better for they as vulnerable road users to evaluate situations and conditions they travel in for their ability to be visually detected by people driving, and choose appropriate gear accordingly.

                  Helping people that drive, to see that something actually is there to slow down for, will go a long way towards bringing about the reduction in speed for the conditions, that you are seeking.

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                • dr2chase November 22, 2013 at 7:59 am

                  Wsbob, it sounds like you are saying the pedestrians and cyclists should expect that drivers will continue to break the law, that this will not change, and that enough drivers like it this way that this will not change -- as a majority, they could vote for change, but don't.

                  Assuming I have understood you properly, do you think that believing this will increase or decrease the respect that cyclists and pedestrians have for both traffic laws and for drivers? How, given this, would you expect cyclists to take criticism when some of their number fail to perfectly comply with traffic laws?

                  You seem to think that you take the "realistic" point of view, and that the rest of us have unreasonable expectations. In the real world, don't you think that the double standard you propose will lead to disrespect and festering bad attitudes? Where I live, drivers failing to drive safely has led various dads to throw stuff into the road as cars go by (amazingly, me not one of them, I merely enter crosswalks with a piece of metal in my hand -- despite the lack of retroflection, things that might scratch paint are surprisingly visible to drivers, who knew?) . I've talked to people in other neighborhoods who intentionally double-park during rush hour as
                  "traffic calming" -- and you really cannot make much of a fuss about the terrific illegality of double-parking in the face of unticketed moving violations. Stopped automobiles are relatively harmless.

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              • 9watts November 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

                "I'm hoping pedestrians and cyclists will choose to exceed legal minimums for visibility gear that will help people driving to see them"

                wsbob's theory of how agency is distributed:
                drivers are blameless, no need to educate them, or make suggestions;
                everyone else, watch out! there's lots you can do to protect yourself.

                People driving are the unmarked category, the standard, the measure of all things. Their behavior; their (in)ability to follow laws; statistics that show them to be culpable in a majority of cases where the vehicles they are supposed to be piloting injure or kill people outside of them... none of that matters. Like the wind and the rain and the sun that makes the grass grow they just are.

                "Rather than advise people to help themselves be seen by people that drive..."

                Glad to see you're such an equal opportunity guy when it comes to dispensing advise.

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                • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 11:34 pm

                  "wsbob's theory of how agency is distributed: ..." 9watts

                  Whatever the heck you intend 'agency', in that sentence, to mean. At any rate what you've written following it, headed up by bold type, is apparently your contrived interpretation of something to do with what I've written, that you take exception to. Great, get it off your chest, but please own it as a creation of your own, which it is...not mine, which it isn't.

                  As I've already written in comments to this comment section, if you two guys...yourself and 2chase...and whoever else, don't feel sufficient emphasis is being stressed to people that drive regarding their responsibility to watch for vulnerable road users...get busy and make your own PSA, campaign, video, whatever. It seems that about everybody with a smart phone or a digital camera is flooding the media with material they think is important. Most likely very little stopping you from doing the same.

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                • 9watts November 21, 2013 at 7:30 am

                  "get busy and make your own PSA"

                  that's a cute retort, wsbob. But it doesn't really address the questions we're engaged with: why the bias, the asymmetry, the inverted logic, in exhortations in these public campaigns about visibility? For the umpteenth time, Why is nighttime safety of human locomotion reduced to our visibility?

                  You suggest that identifying problems with a public agency's campaign is somehow itself problematic, and that we (who have jobs, are not a public agency with a PR budget, may not own a smart phone) should just shut up and instead of enumerating flaws in these efforts should make our own counter-campaign.
                  Interestingly this is exactly what the article is (partially) about: someone cleverly doing this presumably on a miniscule budget. I don't personally have the skills or creativity to do this but applaud those who do and are.

                  The 'make your own PSA' retort is rhetorically similar to 'if you don't like it here why don't you move to another country!' I find both responses unfortunate in that they refuse to engage the substance of the disagreement.

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              • dr2chase November 20, 2013 at 9:51 pm

                PS.

                And there is an interesting asymmetry here in treating bikes as a group, versus treating drivers as a group. Cyclists are a minority -- if there are a few bozo cyclists that "make us all look bad", we don't really have a lot of options. We can badmouth them, we can talk to them on the street, etc, but we're a minority.

                Drivers, on the other hand, are a majority. If drivers notice that some bozo drivers are not obeying the law, are being dangerous, giving all drivers a bad name -- why, drivers are a majority, and they could actually productively harass their legislators for change. But largely, they don't. From that inaction, we can infer something about the preferences of the group.

                So there is a logical basis for criticizing drivers (or another other majority) as a group -- but not for criticizing cyclists (or any other minority) as a group. Boo-hoo, sucks to have political power, people might actually want to notice how you (don't) use it.

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  • Dave November 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Good to see these ads, but remember that drivers aren't really people, and we cyclists and peds still need to use bright clothing and the most aggressive lighting possible to bring attention to ourselves. American drivers have no attention span, nor any capacity to share the road with non-motorised travelers. Drivers are stupid, drivers are blind, use killer lights and wear neon.

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  • mabsf November 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    ohhhh.. and then we have that great time ahead of us where all those drivers go holiday shopping which lowers their driving IQ even more: "Need to get over 3 lanes off traffic into that mall parking lot.." "Need to park in 2nd line so person can hop to go to that shop..." Merry xmas!

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  • John November 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Can the people with the SUPER BRIGHT flashing strobes on their bikes please dim them for oncoming bike traffic when on a bike path (spring water for instance). It is blinding and disorienting. Or take it off strobe mode when on a secluded bike path? Maybe even point downward a little more? just do something! Safety taken so far to an extreme that it is actually creating an un-safe environment.

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    • gutterbunnybikes November 20, 2013 at 8:08 am

      Huge pet peeve of mine, glad I'm not the only one.

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  • was carless November 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Wait, drivers are supposed to look at the road?

    Confused!

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  • o/o November 19, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    It is not against the law for pedestrians not wearing bright/reflective clothes at nights. So drivers need to watch for them plus everything else in dark as well as in any poor visual situations.

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  • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    "There’s a patronizing naiveté ..."

    Two thumbs up.

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  • Adam H. November 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    I for one am getting sick of all this victim-blaming nonsense. In Chicago, a guy recently got doored, and the man who opened his door got a ticket. There was a ton of comments blaming the guy on the bike for running into the other guy's door. Needless to day, I was appalled. When are we going to start holding the people who are operating the more dangerous vehicle accountable for their actions?

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    • Blake November 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      I got hit by a door (specifically, it was opened in the bike lane and got pushed out to open further in front of me and I ran into it) and the person's insurance company denied that it was at all responsible for even paying for me to get checked by a doctor.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 5:39 pm

      "...There was a ton of comments blaming the guy on the bike for running into the other guy's door. ..." Adam H.

      Kind of off-topic, but for curiosity's sake, what the heck was the guy on the bike doing, riding in the door zone?

      This kind of situation is an example of why there's a need for bike-specific road use education and training. Among the top ten things not to do when riding a bike in traffic, should perhaps be: "Do Not Ride in the Door Zone".

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      • Adam H. November 19, 2013 at 5:45 pm

        Obviously the solution here is fully separated cycle tracks, and perhaps the person riding should not have ridden in the door zone; but that in no way excuses the driver's actions. The responsibility lies with the person most capable of inflicting harm. When I ride, I try to do everything I can to keep myself safe, but the ultimate responsibility of safety lies with the people operating the potentially deadly cars.

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        • Cindy November 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

          idk... I think about exiting the men's bathroom at work. Well, you open the door too fast and someone get's smacked. Is it my fault for being in the men's bathroom?

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          • John Lascurettes November 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

            Nope. But it IS your fault for swinging the door too fast in a blind situation.

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        • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

          Adam...from your earlier comment:

          "...and the man who opened his door got a ticket. ..."

          Maybe you're saying that despite the person-driver having opened his door into the path of someone riding a bike, and getting a ticket for doing so, the driver was excused for his actions. Getting a ticket/citation is something people are written up for when they're not excused from something.

          At any rate, it was a hypothetical question. Not meaning to be overly hard on the guy that got doored. Not riding in the door zone can be something that's sometimes difficult to avoid, but avoiding it should be foremost in the mind of anyone riding that wants to stay sound.

          "...but the ultimate responsibility of safety lies with the people operating the potentially deadly cars." Adam H.

          I'm not sure exactly what you intend "...ultimate responsibility of safety..." to mean. What I'll say about what I think your words touch on, is that vulnerable road users can not fully rely on people driving motor vehicles to look out for the safety of vulnerable road users. Even with the best, most attentive people driving, there's too many variables involved in road use to be able to guarantee that people driving will see every other road user they need to see, particularly vulnerable road users on foot and riding bikes.

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      • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

        " what the heck was the guy on the bike doing, riding in the door zone? "

        I'm curious where you ride, wsbob?
        As far to the right as practicable pretty much has everyone riding in the doorzone. If you weren't in the doorzone you'd be in the middle of the lane; certainly not where everyone (people in cars, cops, Bob Huckaby, road ragers) expect us to be. I'd venture that the majority of people biking in Portland are, strictly speaking, in the doorzone a fair amount of the time. That is why we're always scanning rearview mirrors of parked cars to see if anyone is in the driver's seats about to yank the door open.

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        • gutterbunnybikes November 20, 2013 at 8:19 am

          The as far to the right rule as "safely as possible" to me at least means that I'm 3-4' away from a on the street parallel parked car. And yes, that means taking the lane.

          Of course such maneuvers depends on your comfort level with riding in traffic.

          I got doored once in the early 90's, and haven't ridden door zones since. I'll even often ditch the bike paths in door zones as well. Worst I ever get is a finger, honk, or comment from a passing car (which happens often enough regardless of what I'm doing anyway). But I've never been stopped or questioned by police for doing it. And should I get a ticket for it, I'd gladly fight it in traffic court.

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          • BURR November 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

            Despite their irritation with 'scofflaw cyclists', most motorists don't have the first clue what the actual 'rules of the road' are for bicyclists.

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            • John Lascurettes November 20, 2013 at 1:20 pm

              Particularly around their responsibility to check for oncoming traffic (of any kind) before opening their door.

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  • kittens November 19, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    As a night driver, I would say the single most important safety device is a good pair of windshield wipers. Whenever I replace mine its like getting new glasses, you never noticed how much you were missing! Scary.

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  • Glen K November 19, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Here in New Zealand we've just had a Coroner's Inquiry into cycling deaths. Early on in the discussion, the Coroner was publicly musing about whether making hi-vis clothing mandatory when cycling would help. I looked into all the cycling fatalities since 2006 and compared what riders were wearing ("hi-vis" or not) with whether the driver had seen the cyclist before the crash or not. It made NO DIFFERENCE to the proportions - if you're not looking for someone on a bike, then it doesn't matter what they're wearing. Fortunately the Coroner appears to have taken these findings on board and not pursue that line of thinking further.

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    • Chris Anderson November 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

      I'd love to see a link for that. I feel like cars stop more for me at crossings like MLK or 33rd when I'm hi-vis.

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      • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

        It's not the ones that see you, it's the one's that don't/aren't paying attention that probably generate the statistics Glen K is invoking.

        Fortunately the number of fatally run over people on bikes (in NZ and in the US) is fairly small compared to the number of folks crossing the street - in any garb.

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    • wsbob November 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm

      "...It made NO DIFFERENCE to the proportions - if you're not looking for someone on a bike, then it doesn't matter what they're wearing. ..." Glen K

      The example you offer is one reason I don't have a lot of confidence in the findings of studies, how some people interpret them, and conclusions they draw from them. It doesn't require a study to know that somebody not looking at something, won't see it.

      On the other hand, if people are looking for something that for a range of reasons, is either not readily detectable by eye, or evades detection by eye...various means can be very helpful towards enabling the thing to be seen, to be more readily detectable by eye. That's what all the encouragement about use of hi-vis gear, lights and so forth is all about. Also, what transportation agency Trimet's safety visibility campaigns are about.

      For people driving responsibly, watching the road and adjusting their driving for conditions at hand, use of hi-vis gear by people walking and biking can help a great deal towards having them visually stand out from backgrounds and foregrounds serving to camouflage them from visual detection.

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  • Lenny Anderson November 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    Its like Share the Road is OK for a bumpersticker on a car, but on my bike I prefer Take the Lane! Or maybe we need a Walk Safe=J-Walk campaign. And by all means, women should dress conservatively when out in public...just to be on the safe side! What a waste of public resources!

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  • Peter James November 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    So far in my year and a half of commuting by bike the biggest danger I face on a continual basis is by drivers using their smart phones. I really wish police departments would do more enforcement of this law. Spend 15 minutes on any road with moderate traffic and you could write huge numbers of tickets. Unfortunately I get the sense that distracted drivers are just not a priority in this town.

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    • Ron November 19, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Exactly. Speeding and distracted driving is rampant in Portland, with absolutely no ramification for violators. There are simply no traffic patrols.

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  • dwainedibbly November 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    "Hi, my name is Dwaine, and I'm a pedestrian ninja." Actually, my name isn't Dwaine, but I do generally dress in blacks & greys and I'm not afraid to step out in front of a car that doesn't look like it is going to stop for pedestrians. (I'll only do this downtown, though. I'm crazy but I'm not stupid!)

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  • Jeff M November 19, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I understand your point, but I don't think Trimet is an organization that should get the brunt of this argument. They are a public transportation organization. Their customers *are* pedestrians and cyclists. It makes sense for them to address that demographic in their safety campaign.

    I also don't think asking people to be seen is complacent in regard to the dangers of unsafe driving.

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    • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm

      Let’s try a thought experiment.
      First let’s take away all dark-clad pedestrians. What happens to driver behavior? Pedestrian injury rates?

      Now let’s bring the dark-clad pedestrians back and take away all cars & their drivers. What happens to pedestrians? Their injury rates?

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    • Kirk November 19, 2013 at 9:43 pm

      How do people get to the Park & Ride lots? http://ride.trimet.org/?tool=pr#/

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    • Kirk November 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      It also seems to me that TriMet has a unique opportunity to use some of their bus advertising real estate (http://trimet.org/advertising/index.htm) that stares drivers directly in the eyes (if they are looking at the road at that point - which you've got to do occasionally even while using a smartphone, right?) to use their 'Be Seen Be Safe' campaign in a more holistic manner and advocate for safer roads, similar to how they have their 'Congestion Relief' campaign directed at selling public transit to those people sitting in their car behind a bus during rush hour.

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    • Aaronf November 20, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Agreed. Also, look what Trimet put on the "be seen" site, but just didn't get quoted on BP. Lol. No room probably. :-)

      Drivers, make awareness your top priority

      Drivers need to be especially alert to see pedestrians and cyclists. According to AAA, taking your eyes off the road, even for two seconds, doubles your risk of getting into a crash. Driving requires your full attention.
      Complete all pDrivers, make awareness your top priority

      Drivers need to be especially alert to see pedestrians and cyclists. According to AAA, taking your eyes off the road, even for two seconds, doubles your risk of getting into a crash. Driving requires your full attention.
      Complete all personal tasks before or after getting behind the wheel.
      If you have a passenger, ask for their help to carry out your business that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.
      Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. It is illegal in Oregon to use a wireless device while driving.
      ersonal tasks before or after getting behind the wheel.
      If you have a passenger, ask for their help to carry out your business that would otherwise distract you from driving safely.
      Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. It is illegal in Oregon to use a wireless device while driving.

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      • 9watts November 22, 2013 at 7:47 am

        You are correct, Aaronf. Those words do appear there. But I think you would admit that the paragraph you quote is a total afterthought. No graphics, no people, very few column inches compared to the space given to exhortations to smiling people not in cars. All the other paragraphs include bold faced subheadings; whereas this one seems thrown together after final layout was completed.

        Our friends over at the wayback machine captured Trimet's campaign from back in January of this year, and wouldn't you know? No paragraph addressing drivers...
        https://web.archive.org/web/20130127031948/http://trimet.org/beseen/index.htm

        They've also gotten rid of this threatening section:
        Did you know?

        * More than half of the pedestrians killed in Oregon in 2010 were wearing dark clothing and walking at night or in low-light hours.
        * Eight out of ten drivers who struck people at night didn't see them. Federal Highway Administration
        * A driver traveling at 60 mph needs at least 260 feet to stop safely.
        * Taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your risk of getting into a crash. AAA

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        • Aaronf November 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

          Trimet has "improved" the Be Seen website in a direction you (and I'm guessing Maus) like. No threatening section, new section directly addressing drivers... and you demonstrate this better than I could have, via the wayback link. Thank you.

          So why isn't the story "Campaign improves!"??? Are you guys stuck on repeat or what? Sad to see, since Maus seems to want to influence local govt, that he doesn't always recognize his victories. Having a legit article about Tri-Met improving the website could have been a good excuse to encourage and embolden whoever decided to add the driving section, and to build a positive relationship with TriMet. Great advocacy opportunity. Since TriMet is in media mode, maybe even an interview with someone on the campaign.

          Some people will complain no matter what. Eventually, they wear out their welcome, and they get ignored, and have less influence.

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          • 9watts November 22, 2013 at 8:32 am

            You make some very good points. I didn't catch this drift on Trimet's part until now but, yes. Thanks for the nudge.

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          • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

            Aaronf wrote:

            So why isn't the story "Campaign improves!"??? Are you guys stuck on repeat or what? Sad to see, since Maus seems to want to influence local govt, that he doesn't always recognize his victories.

            That's not the story because I don't think a few edits to a website does much to change the overall focus and trajectory of the campaign. I'll consider it, but those are my initial thoughts.

            Having a legit article about Tri-Met improving the website could have been a good excuse to encourage and embolden whoever decided to add the driving section, and to build a positive relationship with TriMet. Great advocacy opportunity. Since TriMet is in media mode, maybe even an interview with someone on the campaign.

            Thanks for the feedback. The thing is, I see BikePortland as a media outlet and content publisher first, and not so much as an advocacy organization.

            Some people will complain no matter what. Eventually, they wear out their welcome, and they get ignored, and have less influence.

            I agree some people are like that and I understand that risk. If you read this site often, you will see that I am always eager to report about good things done by local agencies... But I am not eager to pat them on the back for tiny steps. If significant change/correction happens, I am almost always going to put in the Front Page.

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            • Aaronf November 22, 2013 at 9:59 am

              An audience with the Editor! I must have done something well. :-) Hi Jonathan!

              Wouldn’t the “few edits” in the website merit inclusion in the story though? As it stands, your article gives your readers an incomplete picture of the campaign which is unreasonably negative towards TriMet. You’re the one who chose to frame the facts this way, and which details to leave out.

              How can you write an article smirking about a parody site that criticizes TriMet’s website directly, simultaneously ignore the steps that have been made to address this criticism, and still feel like you do evenhanded work? I think I’d have to meet you in person to really get an idea… it feels like we’ve had this discussion before and reached a similar impasse. You’re not eager to pat people on the back for tiny steps? Why on earth not?

              Awesome applicable German proverb: All beginnings are difficult.

              I do read your site regularly, and have for the last 5 years at least. I don’t share your opinion of your work’s evenhandedness. Having read your work over that time, I already know that you are confident that you do a good job, and that you believe what you are doing is difficult to judge because you are a special blend of advocacy and journalism.

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              • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) November 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

                How can you write an article smirking about a parody site that criticizes TriMet’s website directly, simultaneously ignore the steps that have been made to address this criticism, and still feel like you do evenhanded work?

                People not in the media often assume that the absence of information in an article is equal to "ignoring" that information. That's not the case. I make decisions about what to include in stories and how/if to update/follow-up on them based on a number of factors. In this particular instance, the point of the story was to show a bit of frustration about how this topic (focusing safety messages primarily on walkers/bikers) is handled by agencies and why they might want to consider re-focusing their campaigns in the future.

                You’re not eager to pat people on the back for tiny steps? Why on earth not?

                A lot of reasons, and it's not black and white. Sometimes I might make a big deal out of a tiny step... sometimes I might not. Depends on the who/what/when/why.

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                • Aaronf November 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

                  Besides suggesting I am a "people not in the media" you haven't really made any points here, that I understand, which are contrary to what I wrote. Which factors, specifically, did you consider when you decided to exclude any mention of TriMet's effort to educate drivers? You insist there's a process, so, in good faith, how about a peek behind the curtain at your "number of factors?"

                  I guess the problem is that this story had a point before you wrote/researched it: a "hilarious parody" & a "fantastic takedown" about Trimet. Just passing along negative assessments without evaluation. If the point of a story is just to express frustration unconstructively, I need to stop reading this stuff. My life is too precious to waste on reading rants unless they are very very funny to me.

                  P.S.
                  I'm not in the media, but I do have a bs in communication. Absence of information, ignoring... both are examples of framing a story, regardless of intention. Part of why news is never objective. Basic Media Lit. Maybe if you had a degree in your field (see, we can both do that) you would better understand my criticisms.

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                • 9watts December 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

                  ODOT's page, by contrast, has not followed the salutary trend that Trimet's has: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/Pages/ODOTNews_Seeandbeseen.aspx

                  words admonishing pedestrians: 148
                  words directed at those driving or biking: 57

                  The specifics are really interesting.
                  Addressing pedestrians: Stay sober, don't wear headphones. No comparable wags of the adult finger at the other modes. The only exclamation point on the page was directed at them. Remain alert!

                  • Wear bright or reflective clothing or shoes when walking or biking in low light situations. Avoid dark clothes; folks can't avoid what they can't see.
                  • If there are no sidewalks or designated pedestrian routes, walk close to the edge of the road and out of the way of traffic. Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching vehicles and avoid danger like truck or bus mirrors.
                  • Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chance of being struck.
                  • Don't wear headphones, text or talk on a cell phone while crossing the street.
                  • Watch out for motorists’ blind spots.
                  • Remain alert! Don't assume that cars are going to stop.
                  • Be aware of vehicles around you. Make eye contact before crossing paths.
                  • Pedestrians should use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible.
                  • Look left, right and left again before crossing. Watch for turning cars.
                  • Driving or biking? Watch for pedestrians especially at night.
                  • Remember, under Oregon law there is a crosswalk at every intersection; stop and stay stopped for pedestrians in crosswalks.
                  • Expect and slow for pedestrians in popular walking areas and near crosswalks.
                  • Travel at cautious speeds in wet or icy weather and in low-light areas.

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  • Jeff M November 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Okay. For your first point, I think your saying that drivers will be safer if they are looking out for the unexpected. My thought is that may be appropriate for the Pearl or Abernethy, where there are lots of pedestrians and cyclists, but I don't want to be the one surprising a driver in the West Hills coming around a dark corner. I want them to have as much time to react as possible.

    Your second point, take away all cars and their drivers... Trimet's 2013 campaign should have been, "Don't drive until spring?" You lost me here. And, if you take away all the cars, why can't you leave their drivers?

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    • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      You lost me here.

      It was--and I thought I said as much--a *thought experiment*, intended to illuminate (ha) how culpability is distributed in the situation we are discussing: people walking and driving about at night/dusk and (not) running over each other.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment

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      • Jeff M November 19, 2013 at 9:18 pm

        Sorry, I still don't understand how this relates to Trimet being at fault for asking their passengers to be safe.

        Do you have a wiki-link for (ha)? I need that definition, too. Thanks.

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        • Dimitrios November 20, 2013 at 11:59 am

          Trimet is being criticized for focusing their safety campaign on those being hit rather than those doing the hitting. The thought experiment should illuminate that driving the car is the most dangerous behavior in the scenario. It shadows anyone's choice in clothing and lighting by many orders of magnitude. It's not meant to do anything other than that.

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    • BURR November 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      "Don't drive until spring?"

      Well, in response to a spate of pedestrian deaths, the NYPD did just tell pedestrians to avoid walking when it's dark or raining, LOL.

      http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/11/13/nypd-pedestrian-safety-tips-use-a-flashlight-if-you-walk-at-night/

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  • alliwant November 19, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Make the motorist the responsible party in a collision with a bike by default, like in the Netherlands. Their rate of fatal bike crashes is far lower than ours, and nobody wears a helmet. Maybe it's because motorists know they have to be careful.

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    • 9watts November 19, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Stop making so much sense. You're going to give wsbob heartburn.

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    • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 11:20 pm

      I believe you may have that wrong about the principle we in the U.S. hear as to how the Netherlands handles collisions between people driving and people riding bikes.

      What I know, which is more or less casual info everyone else has available to them, is that technically, the law holds people that drive 'liable', rather than responsible. I think there's an important difference between the principles, applied to legal decision that those two words imply.

      I've read a number of articles in English, about 'Strict Liability', but though some were written by some seemingly knowledgeable people, I didn't particularly sense that any of them had a detailed knowledge of what 'Strict Liability' as used in the Netherlands, entails.

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  • Jim November 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    I have had the same reflective tape on my bike for the last 40 years now.

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  • wsbob November 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    "...I'd venture that the majority of people biking in Portland are, strictly speaking, in the doorzone a fair amount of the time. ..." 9watts

    Sorry...composed, tried to post a reply, repeatedly get 'timeout' to this one, even having made various alterations and cuts. Other comments posted, but not this one. Once more, really brief:

    People shouldn't be riding in the door zone, it's not worth the risk.

    As many people have, I've ridden in a wide range of traffic situations. Long ago, I figured out partly on my own that the law was written to enable vulnerable road users to avoid hazardous road situations.

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    • Alex Reed November 20, 2013 at 7:15 am

      So you avoid hazardous road situations like door-zone bike lanes (AKA approximately one-third of all bike infrastructure in Portland)? I do too, but it seems odd that the gov't they are hazardous out of one side of its mouth but keeps building them all over the place (e.g. SE Foster Rd.)

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      • wsbob November 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

        Bike lanes often are created by retrofitting them to roads' existing right of way, rather than designing them into a new roadway from scratch.

        So the bike lane often gets crammed in there next to parked cars. Bike lanes are still better than nothing, I think. When vehicles aren't parked at the curb, full width of the bike lane can give people riding, somewhat of a refuge away from main lane traffic.

        The white line distinguishing main lane from bike lane serves as a visual cue that the road is designated for use with bikes. Some people need help understanding that if someone on a bike is riding the white line, the reason may be the DZ or debris in the lane.

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  • gheadbarry November 20, 2013 at 12:31 am

    It seems there has been a huge spike in the past five years or so of people wearing reflective clothing. Construction workers, truck drivers, mechanics, garbage men, walkers, tow truck drivers, cyclists... the list goes on and on.
    The biggest problem we face is that we get so accustomed to seeing it everywhere we begin not to see it, more and more it becomes a part of daily life and blends right in.
    I feel anytime you can catch the eye off guard, whether it is a blinking light, or waving your arms around, it becomes a huge bonus.

    The Basic Rider Course for getting a motorcycle endorsement made me a 100% better auto driver and recommend it to drivers any chance I get. It was also instrumental in making me a much more aware cyclist.

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  • Adam H. November 20, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Jeff M
    Your second point, take away all cars and their drivers... Trimet's 2013 campaign should have been, "Don't drive until spring?" You lost me here. And, if you take away all the cars, why can't you leave their drivers?
    Recommended 0

    Well, TriMet is in the public transport business, so I'd have to assume that they'd love it if everyone didn't drive all winter and took TriMet instead. :-)

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  • JRB November 20, 2013 at 8:40 am

    As I was driving the other night hauling a load of stuff to my wife's shop, trying to navigate with the rain and the glare of oncoming headlights I was thinking as I traversed a zebra crossing that if a pedestrian had entered that crossing I would have had a damn hard time seeing them, even though I was only driving 25 and recently replaced my wipers.

    I think there are limits to what even the most vigilant and careful drivers can see so I don't think it hurts to make an effort to be seen when walking or riding, even when you have right of way and any collision would be a driver's fault. I don't think the answer is as simple as don't drive, or drive only 5 mph when conditions reduce visibility to less than 100%.

    That being said, I agree with the premise of Jonathan's article, that those who decide to publicly remind pedestrians and cyclists to make themselves more visible should be equally or even more vehement in suggesting to drivers that they be cautious as well.

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    • Brian Davis November 20, 2013 at 11:15 am

      I think it's revealing that you use the word "only" to describe your 25 mph speed. Since cars are capable of going so much faster, anything less than 25 eels almost excruciatingly slow, I think. But for urban streets like the one you describe, 25 mph is the statutory speed limit (except for downtown, where the speed limit is 20). That's the maximum speed that it's legal to drive _in ideal conditions,_ i.e., daylight, clear weather, etc. When conditions are less than ideal, you've got to slow down to something more "reasonable and prudent;" that's our Basic Speed Rule. You're still subject to this rule even if the road is signed higher than the statutory speed--simply put, you need to be going slow enough to have no doubt that you could spot and stop for a pedestrian.

      If you don't think the solution is to drive 5 mph, how about meeting me in the middle at 15 mph? I'd bet travelling at that speed would ameliorate just about all of the visibility problems you describe, and if you were to get into an auto-ped crash at that speed it would be significantly less serious than at 25 mph. As a bonus, you'd be going about the same speed as any bikes you're sharing the road with, minimizing conflicts with them.

      Speed is always a factor, especially when it's not a factor. :)

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  • gutterbunnybikes November 20, 2013 at 9:01 am

    HIgh viz and reflective gear only works at night when you are in the head lights. You might get some extra reflection from reflective parts from ambient lighting from street lights and such, but not much. It would rely on the angle in which you are being seen and the angle in which the lights are hitting your reflective parts.

    They way the eye works 90% of your color vision is located in the center of your vision, the further out in your peripheral vision you become more color blind (at the extreme edges of your peripheral vision blues and violets are undetectable even in lighted conditions). The cones (which detect color) are almost all centered on your retina, the rods (black and white) are around the edges of the retina.

    You can actually use this to your advantage when riding/driving. Since light conditions are less at night you rely more on the rods to see at night, if you relax you eyes (don't direct your focus) and look around 15 degrees (give of take) over where you'd normally focus your attention you'll allow more light to hit the rods in your eye and you'll see much more of the road than you would focusing straight ahead. Try it, you'll probably be amazed at the results.

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  • Neil November 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

    And now there's this: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131120100318.htm

    Distracted Driving Killing More Pedestrians, Bicyclists

    "From texting and talking on cell phones to eating while driving, researchers say distracted driving is a serious public health threat. Though motor vehicle deaths have been declining nationally, a recent study by researchers at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that deaths in pedestrians and cyclists are increasing."

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  • Joe November 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

    The best ninja is a safe ninja re: riding while being seen ;). drivers are in a hurry to pass anything in that gets in the way, also most are distracted. * yes ppl have helled get a light to me * reserving power in what should be a lit up area.. chuckle... waterfront, its all about being safe with 2 way traffic right?

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  • AndyC of Linnton November 21, 2013 at 10:43 am

    This parody site is fantastic. Well done.
    I wish they'd just come out and tell you to ride/walk aflame, as if you are Ghost Rider or the Human Torch.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

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