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Ask BikePortland: Are runners required to have lights while using paths?

Posted by on January 24th, 2012 at 10:33 am

Dark paths require caution.
(Photo © J. Maus)

This edition of Ask BikePortland comes from reader J. Long. Mr. Long emailed us after he was involved in a collision with someone who was jogging while riding his bike on the Springwater Corridor at night.

“Hey Jonathan, Two nights ago I was riding my bike home on the Springwater [Corridor] between OMSI and Oaks Park.

I hit a female jogger and we both went down hard. As a cyclist I am always worried that somebody may have been hurt; but as I was laying on the ground she just got up and jogged away while I was a little dazed and trying to get untangled from my bike.

Are there rules for joggers to have reflectors or lights as there are for cyclist’s on multi-use paths?”

It’s a good question, and one that will likely come up more as the number of people using our regional paths continues to climb.

According to Mark Ginsberg, a local lawyer and longtime chair and member of the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Commitee, unlike roads and sidewalks, there are no specific laws governing shared-use paths (also known as multi-use paths or “MUPs”).

Whether on paths, sidewalks, or on roads — there are no specific Oregon laws that require people walking or jogging to have lights or reflectors.

Ginsberg added that — whether on paths, sidewalks, or on roads — there are no specific Oregon laws that require people walking or jogging to have lights or reflectors.

Without specific legal guidance for paths, Ginsberg says the rules of the road “are persuasive, but not binding” in these situations. Instead, like all traffic collisions, the police and a judge would look at the facts of the case and use their discretion to determine fault. Law or no law, Ginsberg says, in the eyes of the court, “Everyone has the duty to ‘act reasonably under the conditions then and there existing.'”

Or in other words, if it’s dark on a shared-use path and you’re jogging without any lights and cannot easily be seen by other path users, a judge might find that behavior unreasonable. On the other hand, if it’s dark and you’re riding your bike so fast that you can’t stop in time to avoid someone walking or jogging, you might be at fault.

Ginsberg reminds us that paths are a shared resource and all users need to take responsibility for using them with consideration for others. If you aren’t using a path carefully with respect to others and you are involved in a collision, you could be at fault regardless of whether a law exists or not.

Thanks for the question J. Long. Perhaps some very smart and helpful folks from the community would like to add their insights and experiences… (that’s a hint to leave a comment if you have something helpful to share).

(If you have a question about anything bike-related, drop us a line and we’ll consider it for a future edition of Ask BikePortland.)

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • naomi January 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

    i’ve had SO many instances of almost clobbering over someone on the unlit stretch of the springwater corridor (just north of oaks park). it’s the scariest part of my ride — why can’t they install a few lamp posts there? its literally pitch black.

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    • spare_wheel January 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

      you can buy 350-800 lumen lights for under $80 now.

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      • Josh January 24, 2012 at 11:44 am

        what did you have in mind?

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      • Jeff January 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        Yeah, last time I ran my 900 lumen light on its lowest setting (probably around 300 lumens) on the Springwater, runners yelled at me for being “too bright”… So, you can’t win for trying spare_wheel….

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        • April January 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

          Aim your light down a little more?

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          • captainkarma January 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm


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          • Jeff January 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm

            They were… any lower and I’d have been lighting up the front wheel… People are just complainers these days. First world problems anyway. Next time they’ll get 900 lumens and no sympathy…

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            • Caleb January 25, 2012 at 11:57 am

              Is your statement that people are just complainers a testament to itself? I think there are many people who rarely complain, so if we’re going to generalize, we might as well leave out the “these days”, since historically there seems to have always been at least one person complaining about something. Don’t you think that people can have genuine concerns for their well being even if based on a biased mentality? Characterizing their behavior as complaining might not help the situation any. How would you feel if people were expecting you to no longer express your dislike for their complaining?

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        • John Lascurettes January 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm

          But you didn’t hit any.

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        • fredlf January 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm

          Just like a honking car, if they’re yelling, they see you. Mission accomplished. Move on.

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      • 9watts January 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm

        “you can buy 350-800 lumen lights for under $80 now.”

        Care to share some models & brands? I’m pretty happy with my $40 120 lumen Streamlight Protac 2AA flashlight converted to permanent bike use, but am always interested in improved lumens/$ ratios.

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    • Suburban January 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm

      Every winter, this section of MUP is painted as unsafe for one reason or another. I am glad to see that folks know that darkness is one of the valued qualities of a natural area, and that it should be preserved as such for all future generations of citizens who choose to use it at night. I am not swayed by the operating principal of Pedestrian-Stealth-makes-Safe- unless one is a writer or cat bugler.

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  • cycler January 24, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Didn’t the bicyclist have lights? This is the problem with not having “to see” lights, especially if riding on unlit MUPS

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    • Spiffy January 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

      according to the law bicycles don’t need lights on a MUP…

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      • q`Tzal January 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

        There are so many layers and flavors of bureaucracy ruling over MUPs and other iterations of shared use paths that this will be impossible to prove 100% true.

        Take the Springwater Trail: wasn’t it just a few years ago that Gresham was trying to close the Springwater Trail because they saw it as a park that their donut eaters couldn’t patrol from a squad car. Turns out they couldn’t because it was funded by the Federal Highway Administration designated as a “transportation facility”.
        Perhaps more “road like” laws could conceivably be applied in that case?

        The process of funding and build paths and MUPs is just so piecemeal stitchery that enforcement strategies blaze past “vague confusion” and crash headlong in to “apathy”.

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      • middle of the road guy January 24, 2012 at 11:49 am

        If you hit someone you are responsible…..or does that logic only work for cars?

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        • El Biciclero January 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

          It doesn’t work for cars. Drivers hit people all the time and are deemed not at fault. Especially if they hit an unlit cyclist at night…

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          • Caleb January 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

            I would be disappointed if drivers were always deemed at fault. Laws would hinder us in many ways if they weren’t as complex as the human interactions they’re intended to govern. Who would expect a driver to be at fault if a cyclist decided to perpendicularly cross a high-speed, busy section of a 5-lane interstate while completely disregarding traffic?

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      • cycler January 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm

        According to the law*, you probably only need a blinkie “be seen light” anywhere, but why wouldn’t you get a real light? And shouldn’t you always only ride as fast as you can see to stop? Deer, possums and skunks never wear reflectors.

        * I’m from MA, where a front light is required, but it doesn’t have to be that bright

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  • Joe January 24, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Some joggers panic and do not hold a straight path.
    same goes for cyclists. so we just need to share and be understanding.

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  • Demian Ebert January 24, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I’m in the same boat as naomi. I have two really bright lights that help when it’s dark and raining on the Springwater. Regardless, I find it amazing that people go out in dark clothing with nothing more reflective than the tabs on their running shoes and jog two-wide down the Springwater Corridor. I’ve actually started collecting video during my ride. The goal is to eventually stitch together a short picture of how invisible people are.

    I’ve started riding more in the center of the trail after dark, and that’s helped reduce the close calls with pedestrians.

    I’m afraid that one of these days I’m going to run into someone, it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to hurt both of us, I can only hope it doesn’t hurt too much.

    Lamp posts are probably not allowed because the area is a wildlife refuge. Lights tend to have negative impacts on nocturnal animals.

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    • Randall S. January 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

      Maybe don’t ride in such a manner that you can’t stop safely if needed? You KNOW there is a possibility of runners on a MUP, so you should ride like there might be.

      If a runner is wearing reflective tabs, you can typically see them from 50m away. If you’re riding so fast that you can’t stop in that distance, you need to ride slower.

      If they aren’t wearing any kind of reflective material, then they are acting outside reasonable expectations.

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    • davemess January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm

      I think you’re forgetting that people without lights can see better in the dark than you on your tunnel-vision bike can. So they might not need the lights. I agree it’s not the smartest thing to do.

      So you have two bright lights but still can’t see people?

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  • SilkySlim January 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Major runner here, including for commuting. I never wear a light (besides when required on Hood to Coast), and actually tend to wear dark, non-reflective clothing at night. It may sound crazy, but I actually find it safer.

    My top threat, cars, act “as expected” when they don’t see me, and I can avoid accordingly. No swerving, no sudden stops, no inching fwd/back at stop signs – they just drive as if I am not there, and that works great as I stealthily stay out of harms way.

    On Springwater at night I do try to wear a white/reflective shirt. Way dark! I would love to see some low intensity lights out there, like on Mt. Tabor.

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  • Joe January 24, 2012 at 10:55 am

    whoa runners. sorry ya’ll 🙂

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  • Paul Johnson January 24, 2012 at 11:02 am

    No, but it’s not a bad idea. Though this highlights the problems with mutli-use paths as opposed to proper cycleways with separate pedestrian facilities.

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  • Allan January 24, 2012 at 11:03 am

    This seems like a problem for more public lighting to solve. The power companies will win but that’s a small price to pay for reduced injuries. Make it so PPR

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  • Bjorn January 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

    The biggest problem here is that the runner took off without even seeing if the cyclist was badly injured. Lights or no lights, if you are involved in an incident that causes someone to be injured you have a duty to help them get help.

    When I recently took a trip to Vancouver we visited Stanley Park and hung out on the seawall path, which has separate paths for walking/running and cycling, which as these paths get more and more popular seems like a good idea.

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    • middle of the road guy January 24, 2012 at 11:51 am

      maybe they were scared. A woman being knocked over on a path in the dark…..you do the math.

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    • Mike January 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      I would advise my wife to take off as well. I don’t want her sticking around to find out that she was hit on purpose.
      If the cyclist injured themself it was due to not riding in control.

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      • Bjorn January 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

        If someone is running they are likely coming at you as fast as 10 mph, not much slower than someone biking. If they are dressed all in black and you hit them it is not necessarily because you are riding out of control. I have nearly hit some of these jogging ninjas myself, who often also are wearing headphones and have no idea what is happening around them.

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  • q`Tzal January 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

    Common Law protect pedestrian rights in that only in the most extreme cases are any restrictions imposed on the Right of the Public to walk when ever, where ever and how ever they want.
    Requiring specific gear for pedestrians (walkers, joggers and runners are not seen differently by law) to be allowed to use public spaces is antithetical to our basic freedoms here and even in the most restrictive countries world wide.

    In other words: don’t hold your breath expecting joggers and runners to be lit or wearing reflective gear. Expand your frame of reference for paranoia: I’ve seen cars driving in pitch black with NO LIGHTS ON; mainly in poor areas.

    Better get moving on legal codification of “common sense” and manners.

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  • Rob January 24, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I ride this section of the Springwater every work night, all year long. While I have come across a few runners (or, more typically, pedestrians) in dark clothes with no lights, my light is strong enough for me to see them in time to move over. If not, then I know that I need to slow it down a little. I think the bigger problem is the number of riders with very weak lights and others with super bright lights that don’t dim them when passing others. One thing I don’t want to see is money spent on lighting the path – there are many other bike-related projects that deserve to get funded first.

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  • rootbeerguy January 24, 2012 at 11:33 am

    I commute on Springwater regularly. I have to keep my eyes peeled for unlit runners AND walkers in Oaks Bottom area especially in early dark morning. I have had close calls. I pedal at reasonable speed so I have enough time to avoid potential collision. Riding in dark with heavy rain is almost impossible to see unlit path users even with my good bicycle light. I always appreciate somebody using lights or wearing reflective clothing.

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  • Spiffy January 24, 2012 at 11:34 am

    just like all the wildlife that also crosses the MUP things on foot are not required to wear specific equipment…

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    • April January 24, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      Oh man. No kidding.

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    • Psyfalcon January 24, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      What about on hoof?

      Met a deer one day farther out during daylight. Trotted down the trail with me a few yards behind until it found a hole in bushes.

      My dog met one in an off leash area and sent it flying at me. Passed 10 feet away. Thought I was going to be leveled as I head it coming through the brush and couldn’t see it. (Dog showed up 2 min later, “I found the best smelling spot in the whole park!”)

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  • Severin January 24, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I sometimes run at night, though I never wear reflect, or light colored clothing unless it’s by chance ( like wearing an old race shirt). Just as I think a motorist should with lights should be able to drive safely and not hit a cyclist or pedestrian without lights, I feel a cyclist should have no problem avoiding a runner or pedestrian without lights. If more path lighting is required, fine, but I hate the idea that everyone needs to be lit up like a christmas tree at night to be considered safe and responsible.

    I do wonder why the runner left though, maybe wanted to avoid a potentially angry cyclist? I’m not saying this is right or justifiable, but I don’t think it would be too far fetched to think that.

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  • Chris I January 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

    If you hit a runner on a MUP, you are riding too fast for your level of visibility. If you want to ride faster, get a brighter light. What if a raccoon is on the path, what if someone places a rock on the path? There are a lot of dark objects that you can hit, so get a brighter light, or slow down.

    Every time a car hits someone and they claim “I didn’t see them”, we all give them hell, because they are responsible for seeing objects in front of them. The same rule applies to cyclists on MUPs.

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    • middle of the road guy January 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

      Excellent post, sir.

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  • Byron January 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

    The problem with MUP is that they are not designed for bicycle commuting. If they were they would have separate parts for walkers and bicyclists. So that means that a bicyclist should be riding to avoid runners and runners should be paying attention to what is happening around them. When I ding on my bell and they ignore it or don’t hear because they are plugged into their i*#%! then it is a problem! The real solution is to separate the traffic by providing facilities for rapid bicycle commuting.

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  • Spiffy January 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

    speaking of runners, is it even legal to run on the sidewalk? it’s supposedly illegal to ride a bike faster than “walking speed” near motor vehicle pathways, so is the same true for pedestrians?

    there was a recent collision on Powell and the bike rider was cited as going too fast because they were going faster than walking speed… however, the fastest walking speed is over 8.5 mph…

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    • BicycleDave January 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm

      My understanding is that only bikes are restricted to walking speed. Skateboards, runners, skooters and so on can go as fast as they please.

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  • Christianne January 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I bike this trail every day to get to work in Milwaukie from downtown. I’m a very slow rider – but I’ve nearly hit three people on the trail on my way home. These near collisions are usually a result of people not using lights/reflectors in combination with being blinded by other riders who don’t direct their lights at the path. Maybe I should get lights myself that are just as blindingly bright to counter act. -sigh-

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  • Joseph E January 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    “If it’s dark and you’re riding your bike so fast that you can’t stop in time to avoid someone walking or jogging, you might be at fault”

    Agreed. Consider this situation: you are riding a bike on a residential street at night, with just a weak blinky headlight. A person walking starts to cross an intersection (which is poorly lit, due to being in a residential area with lots of trees), and you run into them because you didn’t seem them until the last second. Shouldn’t the bike be at fault?

    The faster vehicle needs to take responsibility, just like a car driver should have bright enough lights, and drive slowly enough, to stop for pedestrians at night.

    Of course, this is yet another reason to separate pedestrian and bike traffic if possible.

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  • Todd Boulanger January 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    Most of the discussion here has done a good job in discussing the general issues related to the case at hand…except:

    One tool that often helps me as a bicyclist to safely overtake a pedestrian from behind is a bell…that is if the road noise is not too great or if pedestrian does not have headphones on. This is a common problem on the Interstate Bridge path due to its narrow design – not being any room to pass a distracted pedestrian safely while pedaling.

    But after looking through the ORS (815) related to the OR state vehicle code – it seems that it is illegal for most bicyclists to place a bell on their bike and use it as a warning device. There also does not seem to be a state ORS requirement to use one’s voice to warn when overtaking a pedestrian either. (Did I miss something in my quick search?) Many counties and states require bicyclists to have a bell or horn (or voice) to warn pedestrians when overtaking [on the left].

    And WA has a law stating that traffic laws apply to bicyclists on a SUP (46.61.750).

    Perhaps the BTA and the OR Legislature needs to clean up its code to include the use of bells (etc.) by bicyclists when passing pedestrians and the application of traffic laws on SUP for bicyclists?

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    • Byron January 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

      Not sure I understand what section of 815 you are referencing. But 814.410 says that you need an audible warning, bell is one such device, when on a “sidewalk” to warn pedestrians.
      Could you clarify?

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      • Todd Boulanger January 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm

        Thanks Byron for finding the reference I had hoped to find: 814.526 (SUP). But the vehicle code is still unclear on this…

        My search noted above used terms like “bell” or “horn” and also looked in the vehicle code (815.230 & 815.280) for a requirement for bicycles having some sort of audible warning device.

        (a) A motor vehicle must be equipped with a horn…
        (b) No vehicle shall be equipped with any bell, siren, compression or exhaust whistle.
        (c) Bicycles are subject to requirements and limitations on sound equipment as provided under ORS 815.280

        815.280 Violation of bicycle equipment requirements; penalty.
        (b) A person shall not install or use any siren or whistle upon a bicycle.

        So after all this nerdness, I guess a bicyclists using a pedal powered bike in OR only should shout or talk (give audible warning) when passing a pedestrian on a trail or sidewalk? Good luck on the road with cars.

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        • Byron January 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

          My take on this, although I am not a lawyer, is that bicycles are restricted form having a siren or whistle, but can have any other device including a horn or bell.

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        • q`Tzal January 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

          As far as I can tell 815.230 (2)(c) Bicycles are subject to requirements and limitations on sound equipment as provided under ORS 815.280 is explained as :

          2) This section is subject to the exemptions under this subsection in addition to any exemptions under ORS 801.026 (General exemptions). The exemptions under this subsection are partial or complete as described in the following:

          So bicycles are exempted from 815.230 and directed to 815.280 which does not mention bells at all, either pro or con.

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  • Dan January 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    My bell doesn’t work well when it’s raining – water beads on the bell and totally kills the “ring” — kind of like putting your hand on it when you’re ringing it.

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    • John Lascurettes January 24, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      I’ve noticed that too on my bell. I go to the oral audible in that case: “on your left!”

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  • Ted Buehler January 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Many multi-use paths have signs that say “Yield to Pedestrians.”

    I’m thinking that the fast moving bicyclists need to operate in a manner that allows them to not collide with slower moving pedestrians.

    It’s courtesy, common sense. If you can’t see far enough in front of you to stop when there’s a person there, you’re riding too fast for conditions.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Stripes January 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    My daily winter commute takes me along the Esplanade/Steel Bridge in the dark. Most, if not all pedestrians/runners that I see there do not have a light or reflective gear

    It is annoying (mostly I’m afraid of hitting them), but I can’t fault them. Firstly, most bicyclists don’t seem to bother with lights, so it’s a bit rich to start picking on peds. Also, they are on a car-free piece of path, where technically they have priority over bicyclists.

    That said, I can see how terrifying it would be somewhere like the Springwater, where there are no streetlights, and you can pick up speed on a bike.

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  • Stripes January 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Also. I think this sort of debate just really, really, really strengthens the argument for wider multi-use paths, with SEPARATED bike & ped halves.

    Like this! http://www.flickr.com/photos/bikeportland/1437463914/

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    • Ted Buehler January 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm

      Stripes —

      Yes, Minneapolis has been doing this for over 40 years, Vancouver BC for probably about a long, and it works great. And Portland would benefit dramatically with such facilities. West Bank Esplanade, Springwater on the Willamette, 205 path, and lots of smaller sections.

      Ted Buehler

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      • Stripes January 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm

        It absolutely BAFFLES me that the Waterfront Park path has not been widened slightly & separated into half bike/half ped. It is supposed to be the shining example of Portland’s bike & ped friendliness to visitors from all over the world who stay downtown. Instead, it’s a jungle most days.

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        • A.K. January 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

          Indeed, it’s not as if they don’t have plenty of additional grass they could encroach on. Even 5′ extra would be welcome, and would REALLY help give some extra breathing room for everyone when the fence wall is up a few times a year, like when the “Fun Center” (aka Gresham Citizen Magnet) is in town.

          However, it is probably too expensive to retrofit the park at this point in time, given the financial state of the city.

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  • pdxbikeworm January 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I regularly ride the Springwater Corridor between 92nd Avenue and 182nd Avenue in Gresham. This is generally quite dark, particularly between 132nd and Jenne Road. IF you are going to ride at any speed in a dark corridor like this, you need lights sufficient to see pedestrians and other obstacles (shopping carts, for example) regardless of how well they are themselves “lit” (and trust me, some of the pedestrians in this area are “lit” in more than the visual sense – yesterday’s ride smelled like “Potlandia”). Its your responsibility to see a safe distance ahead, not theirs – otherwise you should walk your bike. Also, note how disorienting bright bicycle lights can be to passing pedestrians, who have a hard time knowing exactly which direction you are going in. I screen sufficiently with my hand when passing to allow enough light to see, while considerably reducing the blinding factor.

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  • Michelle January 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Who is the most vulnerable in this situation? I would say the pedestrian. Therefore, as a rider, I would feel personally responsible for any injury I would cause.

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  • Andrew Seger January 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    People walking should never feel obligated to wear lights at night. If they do it seems like a failure of design, like the springwater’s lack of lighting in heavily trafficed industrial stretches. I saw two women taking a stroll down Vancouver the other day wearing high visibility vests with blinking lights. Seems like crummy street design if you feel the need to do that just to walk down a neighborhood street.

    I will say I do appreciate people who toss a bike light on their dogs. Small vanity dogs especially can be really hard to see when people are running in the middle of a neighborhood Greenway.

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    • albyn January 25, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      After 25 years of commuting on foot, I always wear lights when walking at night. Too many close calls with cars (and bicycles) on poorly lit residential streets has convinced me that, while I’m not obligated to do so, it is sensible to do so.

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  • GlowBoy January 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    There’s no obligation for pedestrians wear high-visibility clothing ANYWHERE, not even on roads, let alone on a MUP. Nor should there be any such requirement. It’s entirely the cyclist’s responsibility to see and avoid hitting pedestrians. So that means having a light strong enough to see by.

    Two keys to being a good citizen with your light:
    1. Aim it DOWN towards the pavement, not straight out in front of you, especially on MUPs. Amazingly, car low beams have been based on this simple concept for about a century.
    2. Consider shielding pedestrians from the top of the light beam. I’ve attached a 3-4″ long “hood” that sticks out from the top of my 600 lumen homebrew light. Combined with the downward angle, the sharp cutoff on the top of the beam keeps it from blinding 5-6′ tall pedestrians when I get close to them, yet it remains visible to drivers at least a couple carlengths away. This works best if your light has a relatively small lens (about 1″ or smaller).

    I think the under-$80 350-800 lumen light referred to by spare_wheel is the MagicShine. My understanding is that light has its problems (including a broad beam that blinds pedestrians, with a large lens that makes my #2 suggestion above difficult) but it does at least light things up.

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    • 9watts January 24, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      “my 600 lumen homebrew light”
      I’m getting a sense of where your name comes from.
      Can you say anything about the components you used?


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      • GlowBoy January 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm

        Yes, conspicuity had something to do with my handle. My current light is semi-homebrew: it’s based on a $45 drop-in flashlight module built around on the Cree XM-L emitter, from a guy named Nailbender on candlepowerforums.com who makes a business of selling them. The module contains all the driver electronics so it’s a simple matter of finding a suitable housing and wiring things up. The module is mounted in an old TurboCat bike light housing, which happens to be sized perfectly and holds the module snug. It’s rated to run on 4-6V input, so I drive it with four NiMH Sub-C sized batteries (4.8V in series), charged from a garden variety NiMH pack charger.

        The XM-L can produce 1000 lumens under optimal conditions, but from what I’ve learned 600-700lm would be a reasonable, conservative rating after factoring reflector and lens losses. This light is very comparable in output to the 670lm halogen I used until about a year ago.

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  • J. Long January 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I am the J. Long that e-mailed Jonathan Maus about the incident.
    I had lights front and back (which i’ve been told are too bright from other MUP users) and she came running out of what friends call the “dip” between OMSI and Oaks Park. If you ride the trail you know what I mean.
    The jogger was well…. jogging from west to east OUT of the dirt trails in the dip when the incident happened. I put on full brakes but she hesitated for a split second then decided to go for it; Like all of the squirrels/deer/homeless with fishing poles/and other MUP users including the awesome 3 point buck that does the same thing.
    At this point thanks to Jonathan Maus for using my e-mail for a portion of the article, and I am happy that Mark Ginsberg was able to give an explanation on MUP usage and regulations.

    For all of those people saying I may not have been riding at an appropriate speed, in this case of an intersection with a stop sign for crossing traffic shouldn’t we all use an appropriate amount of responsibility in looking out for each other?

    I truly hope that the jogger is fine. She sure seemed alright I just hope it didn’t scare her too much to keep using such a wonderful path.

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    • Chris I January 25, 2012 at 6:45 am

      This makes it a different case, then. Due to the circumstances, you can assign much of the blame to her. Anyone coming out of that tunnel knows that cyclists and other runners may be on the path, and should look both ways. I think that PBOT should install a stop sign in the tunnel, or at least some sort of warning sign. This accident would have happened just as easily in broad daylight.

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    • Rob January 25, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Thanks for clearing this up. It doesn’t seem that this was really a lighting issue, but rather a situation where the runner comletely screwed up. BTW, the “tunnel” intersection is, in my opinion, the most significant flaw on that section of the Springwater. If I recall correctly, this wasn’t part of the original design. It should be a bridge just like the one down near the amusement park, but I think the design was changed as a cost saving measure.

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  • jim January 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    It’s a good thing the jogger was on the muv path and not the street. If this guy had run her over with a car she wouldn’t have walked away

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  • esther c January 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I’m a bit confused because people are complaining that cyclists need to use bright lights because it is entirely the riders responsibility to see pedestrians. On the other hand cyclists shouldn’t use bright lights because they shine in other cyclists and pedestrians eyes, blinding them, so they’re unsafe.

    Pedestrians have some responsibility for their own safety and should wear reflective or light clothing when going out at night, especially in Portland’s wet weather. If someone cannot see you, they cannot yield the right of way to you. Wearing dark clothes, on a rainy dark night makes you nearly invisible until it may be too late to avoid a collision.

    There is no law saying pedestrians need to wear reflective clothing. My guess is they’d have a heck of a time winning a lawsuit for injuries if they were in all black and hit by a cyclist with a light.

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  • steve p January 25, 2012 at 10:26 am

    I often see blinking lights on dogs but the owners I cant see because they are in dark clothing and no lights.

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  • GlowBoy January 25, 2012 at 11:06 am

    I agree, although cyclists generally have the responsibility to avoid pedestrians on MUPs, this seems like a case where the runner was clearly at fault.

    It has nothing to do with wearing highly visible clothing, and everything with (the pedestrian) paying attention and watching where they’re going.

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  • Ted Buehler January 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    From the “Oregon Bicyclist Manual” p. 18

    Riding on Paths
    paths are wider than sidewalks, but you should still ride cautiously. ride on the right and yield to pedestrians. be especially careful when crossing
    a road. when crossing a driveway or street, slow down and be sure drivers see you. ride more slowly and alertly at night, when it’s harder to see the surface and edges of the path. pedestrians, joggers, skaters and other cyclists may approach suddenly out of the dark in front of you

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    • Ted Buehler January 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Note: “yield to pedestrians” means “yield to pedestrians” There’s no exception for “dark” pedestrians, “dark pedestrians with blinking dogs”, “dark joggers”, “joggers who run away after I knock them down” etc.

      It’s common courtesy, common sense, and its the directive given in the Oregon Bicyclist Manual. If you are concerned you’re going to run into pedestrians at night, you have a couple options:
      1) chill out and slow down, don’t run into folks,
      2) get a high beam headlight. Or, better yet, get a high beam/low beam light, and turn on high beams when you don’t see any pedestrians or oncoming bicyclists.
      3) contact the ODOT’s bike and ped program and ask them to revise the Bicyclist Manual to say that bicyclists can run down pedestrians that aren’t suitably lit up,
      4) get involved in changing walking laws and walking programs to force people to wear bright colors at night.

      Am I missing anything here?

      My $0.02
      Ted Buehler

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      • Paul Johnson January 27, 2012 at 7:26 pm

        The language in the manual isn’t a directive, it’s a caution. The big flag if you’re not in the mood to check the code is the word “may.” But that could happen during the daytime (along with folks or animals just wandering out without looking, or running into the edge of the pavement). Driver and bicyclist handbooks tend to have stuff like that as advice for situational awareness, and not just for new riders.

        If you’re used to riding in, say, pretty much anywhere in a Route 66 state, you’re used to almost entirely on-street, take-the-lane-on-major-street, or on the cosstown paths, riding in a very narrow, fenced-in cycleway corridor along a canal or highway, taking advantage of the same underpasses the highway or canal take to avoid intersections. Something like the Springwater has relatively more foot traffic and more prone to conflict with wildlife, and I know from experience the pavement edge is hard to see at night where there’s no shoulder lines left.

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  • Jeremy Cohen January 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    If I read the reply by J. Long correctly, the jogger wasn’t coming *FROM* the tunnel, but instead from the weave of dirt trails between the MUP and the river. Given that she looked, hesitated and then went for it, I would say that she underestimated the speed of the bicycle–a common issue with car v. bike. That is NOT to say that J. Long was riding too fast, just that the jogger didn’t recognize the speed as it was.

    I use bright lights on front and back, and still I encounter all manner of unlit, poorly reflective peds who often move *into* my way when I say “on your left” as IF i had actually said, “please move to the left” My current commute takes me across the Hawthorne each night (nearly dark to dark) and there is rarely a night that someone isn’t walking the wrong way on the bridge, or walking directly over the obvious bike symbols painted on the bridge. I don’t want to hit anyone, but I also don’t think bikes should always have to slow down to the leisure “toolin’ around town” speed because there “might be” an unlit, unaware pedestrian lurking on my route. Reasonable speed that keeps me well in control and allows me to stop predictably has been a good measure so far, but I know if a walker/jogger jumps to the left on the hawthorne bridge into my path, we will probably both go down. If the bike infrastructure is only useful for slow leisure riders/rides, we have missed a major point of providing for riders.

    Maybe the Springwater needs some cheap signs that say “be safe, be seen” or some other message to let Peds/runners know it is helpful to be seen by all users, including commuters.

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    • April January 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      To be fair, before I started riding a bicycle everywhere, if I was on a MUP and someone said “on your left,” all my brain heard was the “left” part, so that was where I went. I always felt dumb afterward, but I couldn’t train myself out of it until I became a cyclist.

      So I say “on your left” to people on bicycles, but with pedestrians I just ring my bell from a good distance.

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      • Chris I January 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

        We should start saying “STAY RIGHT”

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        • q`Tzal January 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm

          I like the stereotypical bicycle bell that Hollywood uses because Americans have been programmed by Hollywood to equate that old fashioned ringing with a bicycle.
          No looking, guessing or confusion: someone who NEVER bicycles hears that bell sound and think “OH! a bicycle!”

          For everyone else: AirZound – after polite bell ringing far in advance and only when needed to rectify chaotic “butterfly walkers” who make drunks look stable.

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      • Demian Ebert January 25, 2012 at 8:48 pm

        I’ve stopped saying anything. When I was running a lot, I’d say “On your left” and inevitably, they’d step left. It was safer for all concerned to go buy silently.

        Bells only work if there aren’t headphones glued in someone’s ear. People without them are the minority these days.

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  • No Spin January 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    This past summer I rode up to a couple walking North on the Greenway MUP.

    First the Bell – No reaction
    On your left – She moved left
    I just stopped and stared at her. “What”, she said. Is there some kind of rule that I don’t know about?

    Pedestrians should share the responsibility and rules for safety.

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  • captainkarma January 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    I always lay on my bell big time all the way through “the dip”, day or night, regardless if I see anybody or not. What? you don’t have a bell on your speedy-fibre bike, it might slow you down?

    To all those who recommend others aim their lights down, YES! and thanks for re-iterarting it. I often have to STOP riding when approached by a “too powerful because I can be” lighted rider.

    I always shield my light like others have mentioned. And maybe there shouldn’t be a “requirement” to be lit up as a pedestrian, but you have a death wish if you don’t at least wear bright or reflective clothes. At the minimum, pull out the cell phone and show its light at night while on the trails.

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  • Demian Ebert January 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I posted earlier in this discussion and thought I’d toss just under 60 seconds of video into the discussion. This was shot this evening, Jan 25, 2012 on the Springwater between the gravel plant and Oaks Park. The video is dark, but that’s the point. The camera is actually somewhat limited in low light, I can see perhaps 50% better than what shows up in the video.


    Regardless, I think it illustrates pretty well how effective reflective clothing works. You don’t even need a flashing light to be seen. I have good lights and they’ll pick up the reflectors well in advance. Keep in mind that it was dry out tonite. Last night it was pissing rain and the wind was blowing water everywhere. Visibility was terrible.

    Bottom line? I guess it’s everyone’s responsiblity to behave in a sensible and safe manner. Unfortunatly, what I think is safe on a dark MUP obviously doesn’t correspond to other users.

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  • Josh C. January 26, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    As both a cyclist and a runner, I am just appalled that runners, for the most part, do not wear lights. I now do whenever I run as it is clearly an issue and collisions because of little to no visibility are missed by millimeters each day. I have been on the Springwater corridor in the past and actually had cyclists thank me for wearing a light as they rode by. As Ted mentions above, “It’s courtesy and common sense.”.

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  • dr2chase January 27, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    The complaints about not-seeing pedestrians are a little baffling. In the winters I often ride home in the dark on a MUP, running home-made lights in the ballpark of 300-500 lumens (high beams) or in the 60-150 lumen range (amber low beams). I ride in the 15-20mph range coming home, and I spot joggers and pedestrians by the reflective bits on their shoes, piping on the jackets, piping on their backpacks, cell phone glow, or even the reflection of their dogs’ eyeballs (eyeballs seem not to reflect amber as well, but dog’s tend to hear you coming at a great distance, turn to look, and you see them in the distant high beams).

    The high beams are pretty obnoxious, which is why I have low beams, which are not nearly so awful, but still paint all the retroreflective bits.

    I don’t think my vision is especially superhuman (I’m over 50, I wear bifocals), so I’m puzzled at the complaints.

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