In what has become something of an annual event to encourage walkers and bikers to be more visible, TriMet is hosting a “Be Seen Be Safe” event tomorrow (11/11).
The event will take place in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Festivities get underway around 4:00. There will be giveaways of high-viz items like lights, reflectors, neon umbrellas, lights, and more. Also expect free basic bike repair and light installation thanks to A Better Cycle.
At 6:00 pm there will be a ride hosted by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance where everyone will light themselves up and roll across the Tilikum Crossing bridge to Base Camp Brewing (930 SE Oak Street) where prizes will be given out for best dressed and brightest bike. (Ride will end up at the Community Cycling Center’s big Bicycle Ball fundraiser party at Holocene.)
TriMet’s “Be Seen Be Safe” campaign started in 2010 and is always promoted most heavily at the beginning of November when it first begins to get dark for the evening commute.
Encouraging folks to wear to hear bright clothing and talking about people’s responsibility to be visible is a touchy subject. That being said, we’re glad to see that TriMet seems to have hired a fashion advisor.
They used to publish photos like this as part of promotional efforts around this campaign:
Thankfully TriMet seems to have toned down their approach significantly. The image below is from their Be Seen website:
- Be Seen Be Safe – Hosted by TriMet and the BTA
Wednesday, November 11th
4:00 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square
6:00 pm ride leaves for Base Camp Brewing
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
CORRECTION: This post originally made it appear that the BTA was co-hosting the event with TriMet. That was a mistake. The BTA is only leading the ride.
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How about free dash mount warning signs for automobile operators reminding them to operate their vehicles in a safe and responsible manner in order to avoid killing their fellow citizens.
I’d be into that. Anything with a bit of balance, an acknowledgement that this is a shared responsibility, and probably one where responsibility scales with speed and mass, or something like that.
(I wish accountability worked like that.)
LC…got a mock up of your dash mount warning sign idea? Let’s see it.
They have to see you in order to avoid killing you.
They have to *look* for you.
But nothing wrong with making yourself just a little bit more conspicuous as they “look” for you.
There absolutely is, since if someone driving hits a person not wearing bright clothing, they can use that as an excuse.
“…they can use that as an excuse.” herstein
Not an excuse…but under some circumstances, a legitimate explanation. The more readily a vulnerable road user is visible to people driving, the better.
I like that you bring this up. What is with the majority of riding gear in dark Portland being made of black material with very little reflectors?
How about free handle bar mount warning signs for bicyclists reminding them to ride defensively & assume they are not going to be seen by motorists.
Do we really want to put something else on their dashboards to look at other than us though?
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 personal tasks before or after getting behind the wheel. It can wait.
Have a passenger help you if you need directions. Otherwise, pull over somewhere safe before you check your phone.
Keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. It’s illegal in Oregon to use a wireless device while driving.
Why give swag to drivers?
Yep, all the way at the bottom of the page. It’s clear that telling people driving to act safely is TriMet’s lowest priority.
Better yet, ditch this stupid campaign altogether and just train your bus drivers better.
But what about my soda? Who’s going to drink my soda?!?
So we’re definitely telling peds and cyclists to go as far as they dare above and beyond the law: “[have legal lights], but don’t stop there—add more than what’s required”, and insisting that “proper gear” is fluorescent or reflective and requires an investment, and encouraging them to “get creative” by begriming (if I may borrow a term) their bikes with gaudy stickers, and lots of other helpful hints. These things are all mentioned (“investments” and all) in a way that makes them sound like fun and no big deal.
Then, we’re telling drivers to be “especially alert” to see peds and cyclists—because we know you’re not normally alert enough to see them. It makes the minimum standard of seeing things on the road sound like something above and beyond what’s normal—and like an additional burden. “Oh, come on! I’m already minimally alert; now I have to be ‘especially’ alert? Man!” Also, drivers, could you almost come into compliance with the minimum standards of “due care” by leaving your phone alone?
So, meeting legal requirements as a bicyclist or pedestrian, you’re not doing enough. Meeting legal requirements as a driver, “I know it’s super hard, but couldja?”
Here are some suggestions for drivers that seem on par with those given to pedestrians and bicyclists:
* Keep your windshield clean, and always replace wiper blades when they no longer clear rain away cleanly. It’s also a good idea to apply Rain-X or a similar product to help repel water and give you a clearer picture of the road ahead! Cracked windshield? Replace it!
* Windshields aren’t the only thing that need to stay clear—scrub those headlight lenses! Older, yellowed headlight lenses can reduce your ability to see pedestrians or bicyclists by x% at night! Invest in new headlight assemblies, or buy a cleaning product and scrub them back to their original condition.
* Drive slower. It’s no fun going the speed limit—we know—but it can really make the difference between life or death when you go to pass that other car stopped at a crosswalk and suddenly realize there’s a pedestrian there! Reaction and stopping distance is greatly increased by excessive speed, especially in the dark or on wet roads.
* Invest in proper tires. When you do have to make an emergency stop, those old, bald tires aren’t going to do you any favors.
* Let’s talk distraction. Distracted driving kills people every year. Engaging in disembodied conversation impairs your driving ability about as much as being legally intoxicated! It’s called “attention blindness”. Put that phone in the trunk before you leave, just to avoid the temptation to use it while you’re driving.
* We know kids or pets in the back seat can be a distraction and demand your attention. Take some advice from pilots: “first, drive the car”. That means before you get behind the wheel, decide that driving your car safely will be your top priority; worry about dropped toys and spilled Cheerios after you are stopped.
* “Take two to look”. We know that when you’re anxiously awaiting your turn or a gap in traffic, it can give you tunnel vision. When you think you have your chance to gun it, take two seconds to make sure there is not a bicyclist approaching in a bike lane or far-right road position, and there are no pedestrians about to dash across the street in the same gap. Two seconds. You won’t die, and maybe somebody else won’t either.
* We know it’s nobody’s business where you’re going, but use those turn signals! If you expect pedestrians and bicyclists to get out of your way, they have to know which way you’re going!
This list could go on, so why are there no “above and beyond” suggestions for drivers in this campaign?
How about an old fashioned steering wheel mounted device?
I will happily spend thousands of dollars on “high-vis gear” to look like a 1980s hipster reject… if… Trimet will give the [Equivalent] treatment to all of their trains and buses!
That (physical and monetary) equivalent would be wrapping each bus in 10 foot thick bubble wrap, blaring lights and sirens at all times, Drivers would have a “personal spotter” at the front and rear of each bus and [here is the hard part] they will need to smile and be courteous at all times!
Let’s see motor vehicles are required by law to have headlights, taillights, brakelights and side markers, as well as mirrors, and an audible warning device. Not to mention laws pertaining to window tinting.
All those Trimet vehicles have all these features.
Would you agree that bicycles should also have many of these safety features come as part of a bike purchase?
UPS is the worst. Dark brown with no reflective surface.
I agree, Granpa! They should put reflectors on those things! However, in my experience, the UPS drivers are the best trained of all the “pro” drivers out there.
Possibly work rules are even more important then equipment, and almost on par with training. Drivers who are poorly paid, overpressed with work, and lack job security will be less safe.
From my time as a seasonal employee, one driver told me that even the slightest harm caused can become grounds for dismissal. This ranges from hitting a person, backing into a pole of some kind, or breaking part of a mirror on a low tree branch.
We had to complete a driver training course in order to drive a vehicle for the USFS. Strict adherence to the speed limit was mandated.
Surprising that following the speed limit doesn’t seem to be a requirement for police officers, nor do they do much to set a good example. I saw a Multnomah Co Sheriff yesterday cross a solid white line to change lanes yesterday, without signaling.
Yes! with exceptions for racing and off-road, much as with cars and motorcycles. Also, my mirror is much more effective on my helmet, where I can pivot my head slightly to see a huge area behind me.
Trimet is recommending that cyclists go beyond the minimum. Maybe they should heed their own advice.
I think that a large missing hole in US auto safety regulations is the lack of requirement for a fender mounted turn indicator such as you see on cars for the European market. http://bit.ly/1M78rRJ Most turn signals for vehicles in the US can only be seen from the front or behind.
The real problem with U.S. turn signals is that they can only be seen when they are activated.
Well lets see, all of those requirements are to prevent Drivers from killing each other and other road users. So are you saying bicycles must be required to to have all these safety features so not to kill other cyclists and other road users?
Those requirements are to let road users see one another and prevent collisions. I think what he’s saying is that if bicycles had those safety features, they would be involved in fewer collisions. But, of course, you understood that perfectly well.
If you are as brightly lit as a typical Max train, you’re going to have no problems being seen.
there are a lot of ads telling people to watch out for MAX trains as if they’ll sneak up on you…
There are places where they do.
Yes, I’m talking about you, Blue line train at the intersection of the 205 Bike Path and E. Burnside!
Yeah, I thought I saw that one lurking around my house a few nights ago. Creepy.
Planning on going to the Community Cycling Center’s Bicycle Ball? Fear not! That’s where the ride is headed after BaseCamp. So: join us in Pioneer Square, ride across the Tillikum, get some free snacks (and maybe win a prize) at BaseCamp, and then head to Holocene for a big ol’ party to support the CCC!
How about Tri Met reminding drivers to pay attention to what they’re doing, lock their cell phones in the car trunk before starting the engine, and learn how to read a two-digit number, you know, like on a speed limit sign.
The old photo of the guy wearing the yellow pants, jacket, hoody, gloves and triangle sign, at least demonstrated somewhat, that gear’s potential for aiding visibility of vulnerable road users to other road users, particularly those that drive.
With the new ‘fashion shot’, it’s very difficult to even notice what the young woman model is wearing that’s supposed to aid visibility (I think it’s the wrist bands and maybe the shoes…the Nike logo, of course.). Too bad the woman looks so unhappy.
In the top photo from 2010, the gloves the woman is wearing look like something that would be very helpful towards aiding visibility. She poses well too.
(just fyi) in the newer photo of the unhappy woman, the entire jacket is hi vis – every gray stripe is reflective. I think it’s a great demonstration of how modern hi vis gear can look aesthetically pleasing and still be high visible.
(They no longer have that model. Their newer model is even more visible and even less obvious: http://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=1017878&vid=1&pid=721793002 )
BIKELEPTIC…thanks, for explaining that the jacket is actually hi-vis despite it not looking so in the daylight photo.
hi-vis has a specific meaning:
clothing with subdued tones and reflective features is not hi vis.
specific meaning vary from person to person, this is the beauty of language sometimes.
none of the photos show what these people look like in the dark… advertising fail…
all that yellow is bright when there’s a lot of light on it, but I see very little actual reflective surfaces…
Well, I have those gloves and they have just as much reflective visibility as a professional road work reflective vest.
For high visibility hand signals of turns the only thing better would be an actively lit LED glove set. These have been “invented” every couple of years only to fade in to un-marketable obscurity only to be “invented new” later. Rinse and repeat.
You cyclists! You can do sooo much damage therefore you should be lit up light Christmas trees!
This borders on victim blaming. People have the clear right of way in crosswalks, marked or unmarked, no matter what they’re wearing. TriMet’s drivers regularly blow through crosswalks without yielding to people crossing, and they’ve even installed crosswalks with stop signs and other devices aimed at stopping people from walking. Awful.
“…People have the clear right of way in crosswalks, marked or unmarked, no matter what they’re wearing. …” WD
Right of Way, is not what’s at dispute.
What’s disputed is the idea that use of visibility gear is a reasonable expectation of people using the road as vulnerable road users, for the purpose of enhancing their visibility to people using the road with vehicles.
In many situations, the stuff helps. Probably isn’t needed on well lit Downtown streets, but going off into low lit neighborhood streets, or out of the city, county streets that have little or no street lighting, it can help a lot.
I don’t think that wearing hi-viz is a reasonable expectation for people walking legally on our roads. Motorists have a legal obligation to drive at a speed that lets them see pedestrians no matter what they’re wearing. These constant efforts to lower the bar for motorists while raising the bar for everyone else moves us all in the wrong direction.
the only crosswalks I’ve seen with a stop sign are on a MUP…
People still have the right of way when using a crosswalk on a MUP. I’ve talked with engineers & lawyers and none can point me to anything saying a stop sign is the appropriate treatment for a crosswalk. It contradicts Oregon’s laws.
But let’s ignore that one for a sec. TriMet has also installed crosswalks that audibly warn people walking that “vehicles may not stop”, which is essentially the crosswalk admitting that it’s poorly built and won’t work.
It’s embarrassing for a city calls itself “friendly” to bicycling and walking to treat people this way.
Do these “vehicles may not stop” crosswalks happen to cross rail, where the vehicles generally have longer-than-expected stopping distances? Also note that the rules for who has right-of-way at crosswalks are generally different for rail vehicles than for vehicles on the street.
If they installed one of these on the street, I’d love to know where.
There are two of them on the Gresham Fairview Trail, crossing streets, not rail.
I am unfamiliar with those crossings. Do you interpret the statement as a warning (as in drivers might not fulfill their obligation to stop, so be careful), or as an absolution (drivers don’t need to stop here, so be careful)? And are they Trimet installations?
I take the former interpretation. And I think they belong to the city, not Tri-Met.
Not trimet, but most of the HAWK beacons I’ve used give that audible warning. It’s not specific to Portland or Oregon. When I press the button the lights go off right away. They’re to alert drivers that I’m crossing. That warning light doesn’t relieve me of the legal responsibility not to leave a place of safety (sidewalk) when a vehicle (including a bicycle) is so close so as to be impractical to stop. An audible warning to let me know as much doesn’t seem harmful.
The crosswalk across SE 17th at the Powell St bridge/flyover only crosses the street, no rail, and has that warning.
I’ll definitely check that one out.
In the meantime, I’ll ask you what I asked Matt: Do you interpret the statement as a warning (as in drivers might not fulfill their obligation to stop, so be careful), or as an absolution (drivers don’t need to stop here, so be careful)?
On NE 33rd in Portland, there is a ped bike activated blinky light at NE Klicitat. Voice and sign warn that cars “may not stop”. It says this because its not a red traffic light for the cars, its an advisory blinky light. This allows cars to drive through once the ped or bike passes without waiting for the whole blinky cycle to finish. Makes perfect sense to me.
I was just looking at bike wheel lights today. Something for my middle schooler’s bike to be super visible but it has to be theft proof so he can leave it on and it won’t walk away – or get left in another bag like all the clip on lights. The ones I’ve seen so far for wheels look easily removable. Advice?
I have two of these: http://www.amazon.com/Brightz-Ltd-Wheel-Bicycle-Light/dp/B00GT86DI0/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1447201066&sr=8-3&keywords=bike+wheel+lights
Since they weave through the spokes, they’re pretty difficult to steal. They are very bright, and I’ve had a lot of comments and compliments to that effect.
Also available at Walmart
I view hi-viz clothing and bicycle lighting as examples of the motoring majority imposing faux-safety-prophylaxis on the cycling minority.
The few studies that have been carried suggest that hi viz clothing has little impact on driver visual *perception* at night.
A cochrane review also finds little evidence that hi-viz clothing impacts cyclist injury collisions.
Evidence that bicycle lighting reduces risk in urban areas is also suspect:
The German Cyclists’ Federation ADFC has studied the subject of bicycle accidents at dusk and in the dark in Europe…
…This suggests that the different rules have only a marginal impact on the safety of bicycle traffic in the dark. Only a small number of nighttime accidents can be clearly attributed to the lack of lights: Other major risk factors are driving or riding under the influence of alcohol, higher driving speeds on empty roads at night and impaired night vision especially in older drivers.
A Dutch study also finds little evidence that lack of bicycle lighting in urban is a major risk factor:
A Dutch study means NOTHING–how is any city in the Netherlands similar to riding in a US suburban setting? Please, enough of these “delusions of Amsterdam,” okay? We live where 1.Drivers have far too many rights, 2.Streets are designed for high speed and maximum auto traffic flow 3.Like it or not, in our country and culture we cyclists are social deviates until further notice.
You need real lights on a bike–rudely bright so we’re visible to others, and powerful enough to show you the stick that would throw you off the bike and get your arm broken if you hit it. Helmet’s are not a bad idea; despite the nebulous image “problems” some folks think they create I like having my head covered in case I come off. And, better visible clothing than less visible. Until they prove that Pearl Izumi causes cancer I’m wearing the bright stuff.
German infrastructure in major cities is similar to our infrastructure. Mostly bike lanes, bike streets, and a smaller amount of separated infrastructure.
“powerful enough to show you the stick that would throw you off the bike”
in the city the minimum lumens for that is 0… similar to how it’s harder to walk in the city with a flashlight than with no light…
Its fascinating that many commenters are of the mind that all cars are out to get them and want to run them over (seriously?). I think everyone needs to get behind the wheel of a car on a rainy night with the windshield wipers going full blast and the other car headlights blinding you and reflecting on the rain and try to see someone on the side of the lane who is not well lit. You are asking for Superman quality vision if you think they can see you from their wet steamy windshield or side window.
“I think everyone needs to get behind the wheel of a car on a rainy night with the windshield wipers going full blast and the other car headlights blinding you and reflecting on the rain and try to see someone on the side of the lane”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It is not my problem that you as a member of the car-bound have chosen or find yourself in such a difficult situation. I recognize that what you describe is stressful and probably not a very good idea all around, but why on earth would it be up to me (who is on a bike in those same conditions, remember, not endangering anyone, least of all you in your warm if claustrophobic car) to make up for the limitations of your chosen conveyance?!
You are also a member of a car-bound society, and, whether you like it or not, as a VRU, you will find yourself in an even more difficult situation. How you choose to respond could be the difference between life and death.
There’s a lot in my life I “should” not have to deal with. But I do have to deal with it. So I deal with it.
There is a curious tendency in these discussions to drift from the *policy* realm how should a public entity prioritize its safety campaign? what should the messaging emphasize and who should be addressed? to the *personal* realm what should I take into consideration as a member of traffic? what precautions should I take? etc.
I have no disagreement with your statements about the personal realm that you keep drifting into, but this discussion came about (I thought) because we were responding to Trimet’s focus in its safety/outreach campaign. Can we try to keep these two realms apart, clarify which we are speaking to?
If raising awareness and giving out reflective swag is out, what should Trimet do, if anything, to reduce the potential for conflict between their vehicles and riders?
Jeff Owen from Trimet (who just commented) I think hit a lot of great notes that perhaps answer some of your question.
I think the gist of this whole thing (what some of us are objecting to about this campaign) is that by focusing attention on VRU, on things they can do, without at least commensurate messaging directed at other, less VRU, the unfortunate implication is that to be safe it is up to the VRUs, when we know that is not the case.
Maybe you expect a general traffic safety campaign, and they’re doing something different.
Maybe we could recall that just about everyone (PBOT, ODOT, Trimet, Bike Gallery) find themselves reflexively regurgitating these admonitions directed at VRUs without commensurate attention to those not out and about under their own power. It gets tiresome.
and one more:
My European friends who commute by bicycle all wear high-visibility clothes. Drivers also all carry special high-visibility vests in case they need to pull over on the edge of the road. Even their trucks have lots of reflective tape.
If you want to follow the European traffic model, you’d better invest in some reflective gear.
Yeah, I was told pedestrians need to have apiece of reflective on their clothing or they will get a citation ($40 fine).
The research I cited (and additional research spanning back many decades) support use of reflectors and reflective features. Reflective features on pedals, ankles, and legs appear to be particularly effective.
That does not match my experiences riding with friends in Dutch cities. Remember, most of their cycling is separated from cars, the bike routes have street lighting, and the cops don’t seem to bother people as long as they’re just riding peacefully along. I’ve heard they give tickets to people riding in car streets without lights, but I’ve never seen it (and I’ve seen plenty of people riding in streets, some with very sketchy lights).
The first study you cited says:
“Overall, drivers responded to the presence of the test bicyclist on 70% of the laps, ranging from only 27% (black clothing, no lights, older drivers) to 100% (vest, ankle & knee for all light conditions, younger drivers). When the data were collapsed across the clothing conditions, the older drivers responded to only 55% of the bicyclists compared to 86% for the younger drivers, Χ2(1) = 6.9, p < .009.
Importantly, the bicyclists’ clothing strongly affected the drivers’ ability to recognize their presence. Collapsed across driver age, drivers responded on 50% of the laps in the black condition, on 67% of the laps in the vest condition, and on 94% of the laps in the vest plus ankles and knees condition, Χ2(2) = 17.76, p < .001; all pairwise differences were significant. Figure 1 presents these data as a function of driver age. In the vest, ankle & knee condition, the vast majority of participants (both older and younger) were able to recognise the cyclists, whereas in the other conditions the older adults showed decreased ability to recognise the presence of a cyclist. There was no significant effect of lights in terms of the proportion of bicyclists seen. Overall, participants recognised 75% of bicyclists in the no-light condition, and 68% in each of the static and flashing conditions, Χ2(2) = 2.01, p = .367.
Averaged across all bicyclist clothing and lighting conditions, drivers responded to the bicyclist at a mean distance of 58.7 m, ranging from 5.0 m (black clothing, older drivers, no lights) to 223 m (vest, ankle & knee, younger drivers, no lights)."
Which confirms the reasons to use lights, high viz, and reflectives. They help drivers see you. See above. Cyclist in black clothing, no bike lights: drivers saw the cyclist only 27% of the time. Cyclist wearing yellow vest with reflectives on vest and legs, bike with light: drivers saw the cyclist 94% of the time.
Of course, high viz clothing doesn't help much at night, reflective don't help much in the day, and lights vary a lot in their brightness and blink pattern if any. So you probably want some combination of these aids.
It's a free country. If someone wants to ride like a cat burglar, that's their choice. But note above. Older driver, cyclist dressed in black with no lights and no reflectives: the driver seldom saw the cyclist, and when s/he did see the cyclist, it wasn't until 5 meters (15 feet) distance. This was a stationary cyclist, by the way (pedaling on a trainer), and the driver was doing laps of a test track with not many distractions.
Throw in a quickly moving cyclist, some rain streaming down the windshield, other traffic, maybe a little fogging or glare, and the ninja cyclist is basically assuming all the responsibility of avoiding cars, because he's made himself very, very hard for drivers to see.
One more thought on the topic of lights. The study cited above used "blinky" LED lights, exact type not described. But today we can buy very bright lights, with multiple high power LEDs, 300-500 lumens, for $40-60. I suspect those would be much more noticeable to drivers than the blinkys used in the study. We can also mount them on our helmets, and put the beam right on the windshield of a car that is threatening to cut us off or turn in front of us. I know, from lots of personal experience, that is extremely noticeable to drivers.
Reflectors and reflective features and not what is meant by “hi-viz”. My bike has black reflective tape and my black chrome bag is reflective.
I like high viz in the daytime, but admittedly don’t always wear it. My everyday commuter rain jacket is yellow, but when I’m not wearing it, I don’t put on a safety vest or otherwise impersonate a traffic cone . . .
“The German Cyclists’ Federation ADFC has studied the subject of bicycle accidents at dusk and in the dark in Europe…
…This suggests that the different rules have only a marginal impact on the safety of bicycle traffic in the dark. Only a small number of nighttime accidents can be clearly attributed to the lack of lights: Other major risk factors are driving or riding under the influence of alcohol, higher driving speeds on empty roads at night and impaired night vision especially in older drivers.”
What the study doesn’t discuss is how many injuries were avoided through the use of bike lights. That’s the crucial question, and the study doesn’t address it.
Sounds like a victim-blaming party.
TriMet is telling people to dress like a traffic cone if they don’t want to get hit, but ask absolutely nothing of the people actually hitting the people with their cars.
One possible reason that Trimet is not doing anything about people hitting bikes with their cars is that they have no role in that. You might as well complain that the Water Bureau is not taking a leadership role in bike safety.
TriMet is telling people to dress like a traffic cone if they don’t want to get hit, but ask absolutely nothing of the people actually hitting the people with their buses.
Do you really think Trimet isn’t doing everything they can internally to train their drivers about avoiding pedestrians and cyclists? Instead, you think they do “absolutely nothing”? Do you really believe that?
I’m sure they train their drivers, but “wear reflective clothing or get hit by one of our bus drivers” is a terrible message and makes it very easy to blame the victim if they were not wearing reflectives.
I’ve never heard that message, but would love to (because there’s a lot you could do with that politically).
Do you have a link to something official that promotes that message?
Then why have the token suggestions for “drivers” at the bottom of the campaign page? It seems they are addressing non-Tri-met drivers if one of the suggestions is to “have a passenger help you if you need directions”, and there is an incorrect reminder that “it’s illegal in Oregon to use a wireless device while driving”: a) it’s not illegal if you do it “hands-free”, and b) I thought drivers were prohibited from using phones by Tri-met policy, which isn’t mentioned here.
This just doesn’t seem like a campaign strictly to keep peds and cyclists from getting run over by buses. It’s an attempt to keep them from getting run over in general, by taking all the responsibility to go above and beyond legal requirements upon themselves, because we know drivers won’t, so we won’t even attempt to give them above-and-beyond suggestions on how to be even safer than the law requires. As far as drivers are concerned, the final few suggestions are hints on how to almost meet the legal minimum of safe driving behavior.
Maybe they don’t want drivers to collide with their vehicles while they are reading a map? Trimet is not responsible for mediating car-bicycle interaction, so I’m not sure what the point is of complaining about the way they are or are not doing that. This is a total non-issue.
Well, I guess if their intention is to get people to quit hitting their buses, then you’re right.
Isn’t the point to prevent people from being “victims”?
Lots of negative comments. I think it’s a great idea. The sun sets before 5 pm now and not all streets have street lights. In the grand scheme of things, people really don’t want to hit other people, whether it be cars, cyclists, or joggers.
I’m sure you’re right in theory – in practice, though, an awful lot of people drive as though avoiding hitting people is not their highest priority.
Do you wear lights and hi viz clothing when you walk at night?
Nah, I walk 3 mph, so its hard for me to sneak up on someone. When I run, I have a light.
I do. Normal clothes, but a reflect running vest and usually a flashlight. I am always looking for peds, etc when driving and I always see those with reflective items/flashlights much better than those without. Those without you can barely see, especially when there are no street lights.
I saw a skateboarder riding down the middle of Ladd last night, dressed in black, and totally invisible, except when I chanced to see him silhouetted against a street light.
I love ninjas! Imagine a city with 10% ninja mode share and people who drive as if there could be a ninja around every corner.
Ninjas put themselves in danger, but make everybody else safer. Kudos to ninjas.
There already IS a 10% ninja mode share. You just don’t see it. 😉
I’ve mentioned in past, that Fairmount Blvd is a place where people walking commonly carry lights and wear at least some hi-vis gear. For those of you reading that aren’t familiar with Fairmount, it’s a three mile loop road up high on the hills west of Portland.
From early morning and into the evening, many people use the quiet residential road for walking, running, biking, and a few other odd wheeled sports. Has street lights, but nothing like Downtown Portland. Use of the hi-vis gear there is very helpful.
I often carry a flashlight that I use when I’m in a crosswalk.
I wear a wrist or ankle band and carry a light when walking @ mt. Tabor at night. Why? Speeding bicyclists! 😉
I would rather just have street lights, thank you very much.
FYI, this event is tomorrow Nov 11th. I didn’t see this piece of info in the article.
I guess the bottom line for me is, I can’t even imagine not wanting to do what I can to see and be seen on my bike at night in the dark where drivers of cars are distracted with cups of coffee or cell phones or wiping the condensation off the windows – all things that realistically, the cops don’t give a shit about, even though they really ought to.
There’s also other obstacles, rain, wet leaves, manhole covers, potholes, etc etc that I like to be able to avoid, hence, my NightSun.
(The amount of snark on Bike Portland seems to have increased since we started buying shares in the site)
Maybe I’m just cynical because of the shorter days….
Seems like a good opportunity to pick up some free kit!
The picture is a great example of an extremely rude fender choice. Aim the water directly at the rider stuck behind you while you only keep your backpack “clean”.
It’s a lazy fender. Fitting a proper one is more work, but is better for you and the people stuck behind you.
Discussions you would only encounter in Portland…
I had an acquaintance compare properly installed and fitted fender to “buying apple products, form over function”. He also thinks lights and reflectors are a scam.
Some people just shouldn’t be allowed outside.
It looks cool though, and is more than sufficiently functional…works great… if you’re not confined to riding with a bunch of people commuting. You bet, I’ve got one and it’s one of the best, simplest and affordable accessories I’ve ever had. No problem since I don’t have to ride the Hawthorne or Williams Ave commute hour.
free stuff is great. but you could be hi viz head to toe and have a 360 degree lighting system, if a driver is staring at their phone, there is nothing you can do to “be seen” in that instance. Also the obligation implicit in the verb “to see” is 100% on the “see-er”. if someone is looking only for cars there are plenty of brightly lit objects about that dont garner any energy from a driver because they are categorized in the mind of the driver as “that cant hurt me” where as cars are in the “that can hurt me” category and thus garner much more respect from a driver. I feel like there are so many studies, videos etc. out there that display humans short comings when it comes to the paying attention game. cyclists arent dangerous to cars no matter what they look like, and therefore “i didnt see him!”
been in that situation… I was lit up like a christmas tree… when the driver got out and saw me laying there he apologized saying “I have no idea how I didn’t see you when you’re so well lit up”…
Apparently there’s no objective way to tell if you can be seen or not.
when i walk my dog at night, yes i do wear the jacket with reflective stripes on it, especially when it’s cold and rainy and car windows get foggy, i might even get a blinky light for her collar.
i have noticed fewer cars pulling out in front of me after ditching the flat black helmet for the yellow one.
i would love some of those “turn signal” gloves for year round night riding. cars may see my tail light from a distance, but probably not my skinny arm.
some highlights from the abstract of the study posted by Soren contradict my previous claims:
“The use of reflective markings on a pedestrian’s major joints to facilitate theperception of biological motion has been shown to greatly enhance pedestrian conspicuity at night, but few corresponding data exist for bicyclists.”
“Bicyclist clothing significantly affected conspicuity; drivers responded to bicyclists wearing the vest plus ankle and knee reflectors at significantly longer distances than when the bicyclist wore the vest alone or black clothing without a vest”
“The presence of a bicycle light, whether static or flashing, did not enhance the conspicuity of the bicyclist; this may result in bicyclists who use a bicycle light being overconfident of their own conspicuity at night. The implications of our findings are that ankleand knee markings are a simple and very effective approach for enhancing bicyclist conspicuity
in other words doesnt say anything about hi-viz, lights arent so great, but reflectors are the best, especially if they convey bilogical motion. this makes perfect sense because the reflector essentially uses the power of the headlights directed back at them. far brighter than any bike light.
i make extensive use of 3M reflective tape — in aesthetically pleasing black and grey. my clothing, bags, and shoes generally have reflective elements.
Also really interesting from the study, age was a large determiner in cyclist visibility ie. older drivers performed significantly worse across all measures, as well a cyclist with reflective vest, knees, and ankles was actually LESS visible to motorists presumably because of the glare. in other words if Trimet really wanted to make a difference they should start handing out reflective buttons or straps that we can put on our shoes and ankles.
I’m pretty sure Jonathan posts this every year to generate comments.
Dang, I fell for it.
Considering that the last few times that I’ve stopped my automobile for pedestrians crossing at unmarked intersections it was Trimet drivers that honked and yelled at me, I think they need to take a hard look at their own policies and driver training before they start telling me what to do.
How dare they give out free bike lights!
I would prefer “Vision Zero: To see, you must look.”
Part of the defensive theory of vehicle operation is to have an audible warning device. Just about everyone around here would get an “F minus.”
I would go if they were really going to demonstrate a cloaking device.
Wear all black, use minimal reflectors and the most obnoxiously bright lights you can afford.
As soon as you turn off the lights they’ll have to resort to tracking you by your exhaust.
I applied for a bike safety grant and started “Get Lit” a free bike lights program. The CCC took it over and ran it for several years too. The CCC survey while giving out lights indicated money was the main reason why people didn’t have lights “Get Lit” has been dormant for awhile, but the need is still there. I contacted both Cycle Oregon (for a grant) and the BTA (to give out lights) trying to resurrect “Get Lit”. I got no response from either organization. I was a little shocked because Allison Graves headed CCC and knew “Get Lit” filled an important need for bike safety. I hope after the event that the BTA & Cycle Oregon sees the need is year round, not just one night.
On another note: If the person driving the car, says “I could see you better if you wore brighter clothes”. WTF are you complaining about? They want to work with you. Just because they haven’t’ adopted your bicycle lifestyle doesn’t mean they don’t care for you, they obviously do. Get over it and go get a yellow rain jacket and live to tell.
“WTF are you complaining about? They want to work with you. Just because they haven’t’ adopted your bicycle lifestyle doesn’t mean they don’t care for you, they obviously do. Get over it and go get a yellow rain jacket and live to tell.”
Hm. I wouldn’t be so quick to channel their thinking, Jeff.
Could be they are freaked out by the prospect of being ‘surprised’ by someone on a bike… because they weren’t paying enough attention to see him sooner. Notice that most times people complain about unlit, unreflectorized pedestrians or cyclists being invisible, they are telling you that they saw them… just not with as much advanced warning as their speed suggested to them they deserved.
I just can’t invest in bright clothing I’d never wear anywhere else, ever. I just can’t rock it. I’ve got bike lights, and yellow panniers with reflective patches, but I’m not gonna wear bright colors. Ain’t gonna happen.
I accept the consequences – which are thus far only being harassed by car drivers who shouldn’t be distracting me when I’m trying to bike.
It is kind of funny for people who use 2000 lb pollution creating, life threatening death machines for all their minute errands to try to scold people who bike in dark clothing. . . .
“I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color.” -Wednesday Addams
And here we have the crux of the ideology or reality debate.
Next up: Helmets!
If you read the comments people are posting here I think you might appreciate that we’re not, by and large, talking about whether people should wear clothing that helps them stand out at night, but whether a public entity should continue, year after year, to focus their advertising attention on the vulnerable rather than on the inattentive machine-bound traffic participants.
stop training drivers to only watch out for brightly lit objects…
they need to watch where they’re going and make sure it’s clear, not just check to see if they can’t see anything…
yes, that means you have to drive a lot slower in the dark, just like you’re supposed to… there should be a 0 mph leniency for speeding at night…
Driving 15 mph is not the end of the world.
True that, but when I drive at a conservative speed for conditions, as the law prescribes, I am afraid of getting trashed by another car.
This is an excellent idea, especially for those who may not be able to afford these items.
You know, I was considering investing in new bike lights and reflective, high-visibility bike clothes now that my evening commutes are dark and rainy, but I’m sure glad I read the comments here first! It sure is a relief to be reminded that literally everybody but me is responsible for my own safety–how dare TriMet or anyone else suggest that I should endure a slight inconvenience just to make it easier for drivers to see me in low-visibility conditions!
“how dare TriMet or anyone else suggest that I should endure a slight inconvenience just to make it easier for drivers to see me in low-visibility conditions!”
OK I’ll take your bait. What slight inconvenience is Trimet asking those who drive to endure?
Even though you’re intentionally avoiding any of the points I made in my comment, I’ll take your bait, too. What exactly would you have TriMet do to encourage drivers to watch out for cyclists? Sure, they could maybe do with an ad campaign on the side of their buses reminding drivers to be mindful–if that’s what you want, let’s ask for that.
All I’m saying is that, given that riding around traffic has inherent risks, especially when it’s dark and/or rainy and even the best-intentioned drivers can struggle to be fully aware of all of their surroundings, what’s the harm in encouraging cyclists to take measures to protect themselves and make it easier for drivers to see them? Why do we have to resort to cries of “victim-blaming” whenever it’s suggested that cyclists take measures beyond what’s legally required for our own safety?
I would add the question: Are campaigns encouraging use of motorcycle helmets where not required by law also victim-blaming?
I’ve commented on this before but I have to say it is stunning to me that bicycle riders response to the notion that they should ride with high visibility is to deflect the responsibility onto cars, buses, Max, UPS, anybody but them.
Being a ‘legal eagle’ when you ride and thinking it offers some sort of magic protection doesn’t get you far. Being right about who is at fault in a bicycle/auto accident is just about meaningless after the fact.
Do you know what the question is in a court of law to you or your heirs at the end of a court proceeding? It’s: ‘How much do you want?’ After you’ve been hit there is rarely a remedy that will make you whole again.
Of what value is it to be “right” when you’ve been injured by an errant driver when you’ve been too stupid/negligent to have worn a helmet?
Start every ride with the decision to be as visible as possible, lights, reflective vest.
Make a commitment with each ride to be as conservative as possible with all your moves.
Yesterday I was near a car that had one of these new, fancy turn signals that don’t just flash, but rather a series of lights sequentially flash to sort of ‘point” in the direction of the turn. All the sudden I realized I was staring at that light and not paying attention to everything else important going on around me. Just for a second, but luckily the person in front of me didn’t rake in that second. But cool, his turn signal was really well seen. Sorry for all the suckers with regular old turn signals and brake lights. Go out and upgrade if you want me to see you.
New, sequential turn signals like a 1965 Thunderbird?
Or a ’64 Mustang?
“it is stunning to me that bicycle riders response to the notion that they should ride with high visibility is to deflect the responsibility onto cars, buses, Max, UPS, anybody but them.”
I hope you can differentiate between (I won’t wear high-viz, and I don’t think it should be Trimet’s # 1 priority to focus everyone’s attention on the need for *me-who bikes* to wear high-viz.
I believe in being conspicuous. But I deeply resent the tone and focus of these messages which direct attention *away from* what really causes problems which are speed and inattention by those in cars.
I briefly stopped by the event today, and it was super low key; just a couple of Trimet employees giving away some pretty cheesy swag, and some vendors selling stuff like bags and smoothies. I think if you had likewise stopped by, you’d have found no “tone” at all, besides the overly cheerful woman handing out bicycle-incompatible blinkies to anyone who walked by.
I don’t think they had anything bike-specific at all; I wanted an umbrella, but lost the lottery and got a reflective sash that I am trying to think of some creative use for. They were also giving out bus tickets, some kind of weird UFO headgear, and glow sticks in various forms, any of which would have been better than the sash.
Thanks for the report, Hello, Kitty.
“I think if you had likewise stopped by, you’d have found no ‘tone’ at all, besides the overly cheerful woman handing out bicycle-incompatible blinkies to anyone who walked by.”
I don’t think I’d be looking for ‘tone’ among hoi polloi. My point was that the messaging, the thrust of the campaign (quite apart from any cheerfulness of the vendor woman) is misguided and undermines our chances for shifting the debate in a direction that could actually make a difference in the long run. people driving need to do what the law already stipulates; we don’t need to be going above and beyond the law to BE SEEN.
I’m not that interested in winning the battle only to lose the war. I think Trimet’s campaign suffers from precisely this kind of myopia.
There is a lot trimet should be doing to make the streets safer. Near the top of that list would have them regularly review the performance of their bus drivers, and conduct thorough investigations into every crash one of their drivers is involved in. Even if a bus driver hits a pedestrian or cyclist and that VRU was entirely responsible for the crash they should endeavor to find out what additional defensive driving training they could provide their drivers to hopefully prevent such a crash from occurring again. Assume for the moment they do this. How often would you hear about it?
>I hope you can differentiate between (I won’t wear high-viz, and I don’t think it should be Trimet’s # 1 priority to focus everyone’s attention on the need for *me-who bikes* to wear high-viz.
Is getting cyclists to go out of their way to be more visible trimet’s #1 priority? What, do they run one winter safety event a year where they happen to give away some bike swag, but cyclist visibility isn’t the only and maybe not even the main reason for it? How much do they do to make the streets safer that you never hear about? How do the resources that go into this event compare to the total amount of time, money, and energy they spend working towards a safer transit system?
I have two reflective ankle bands. I knew such things existed for years. But never got around to getting one. Would sometimes use a rubber band to save my pants. Then a few years back I happened to ride by a NYCDOT night safety giveaway something or other. They let me have three ankle bands. I gave one away to a fellow cyclist who asked for one because he didn’t want to spend the money to buy one, didn’t know how to make one himself, but thought it would make him more visible. The other two I have and gladly use at least one when I ride in the winter instead of rubber bands. Might you find this sort of event less bothersome if you think of it as something for people who bike but aren’t you and don’t have your equipment, ‘cycling social network’, or lifetime of cycling knowledge?
“How often would you hear about it?”
I guess that would be up to Trimet. My ire has to do with the fact that the Be Seen campaign is something I hear about every year, and encounter via billboards and signs on buses.
“How much do they do to make the streets safer that you never hear about? How do the resources that go into this event compare to the total amount of time, money, and energy they spend working towards a safer transit system?”
I have no idea.
Again, regardless of how big or small a priority this campaign is for them, why make it lopsided like this? To me it just doesn’t compute. As El Biciclero said somewhere over in the Jolene discussion:
“Be seen” in itself is an asinine, nonsense command that typifies the attitude that I am against, which is that if someone didn’t see me, it’s my own fault for not being “visible” enough. The victim blaming comes into the picture after the fact, when rather than say, “that driver should have had their eyes open”, we say, “that bicyclist should have been wearing brighter colors and using a daytime light”, and deem that he “could not ‘objectively’ be seen”. Meanwhile, we don’t provide any helpful hints to drivers to watch for small things, look before you turn, take note of anything that temporarily blocks other lights by passing in front of them, pay extra attention to shadowed areas, or otherwise do anything but try to notice people dressed as traffic cones.
Almost certainly this is done on advice from the legal dept as a proactive defence against that lawsuit that is surely coming from some person on a bike that has been injured through interaction with TriMet assets. “Ya can’t say we didn’t warn ya!”. Also it might influence any potential jurors, even subconsciously, in TriMet’s favor.
I would be shocked if Trimet does not regularly review driver performance, and treat crashes as extremely serious events. A crash represents a total failure of their system. I would not expect to hear about how these issues are dealt with because with union rules being what they are, disciplinary actions taken are probably kept confidential.
There was little if any bike swag on offer tonight. There were a few cyclists mingling around (probably hoping they weren’t going to be saddled with a sash), but the event was clearly not targeting us.
The modern urban landscape is built and maintained for cars, not for bicycles. Either I give up and start driving everywhere, or I take the necessary precautions and keep pedaling my bicycle, knowing that the topical and political landscape will never fully take me seriously.
I don’t care. I’ll ride my bike.
..::thumbs nose at the dominant paradigm::..
About 6pm tonight crossing Vancouver on a side street south of Killingsworth. I’m in my car, four bright sets of lights pass, so the coast looks clear, I start to go, then catch sight of the guy on the bike, dressed in dark clothes, no light. Oh boy, get a head light for that bike!
I went and as stated by others, it was fairly low key and was fun. I brought my “holiday” bike (ELwire on the frame, 2 Brightz wheel lights per wheel) because it was fun. The bike was a big hit with those out on Halloween, especially the kids.
My normal lighting, though: Light & Motion 360+ helmet, a Dinotte 300r taillight, and a Dinotte XML-3 headlight. I want others to see me from as far away as possible.
I also think there needs to be more PSAs, say during all those news hours and such, promoting those driving to be ever more watchful for other people out there – walking, riding, running, skating, etc.
I loved what you did with the lights!
My normal lighting currently is:
a Cygolite 850 and a Blackburn Central 20 tail light on my helmet
a Cygolite 800 and a Planet Bike Beamer 5 for the handlebars
a PDW Aether Demon and PDW Danger Zone for the tail lights
a set of BrightZ Wheel lights (blue) for the front and rear wheels (one set each)
The lights are supplemented by Oracal 5600 reflective film from Multicraft plastics (Tigard). This costs about $15/color for a 24″x36″ length of material. There’s also some clear material (non reflective) used to seal details in along with the reflective film. http://www.multicraftplastics.com/manufacturers/oracal/graphic_marking_films/content/oracal_series_5600.html
There’s also some Duck brand reflective tape from Walmart (the red) which is a lot cheaper, but you get a lot less of it (1.5″ x 30″ for $3.47 for a roll)
I no longer recommend the reflective materials that have a triangular or hexagonal pattern embossed into them (e.g. conspicuity tape) for wrapping around frames. It’s fine for flat surfaces (bike buckets, etc.), but will peel off when applied to round surfaces, unless held down by a clear film (tape doesn’t work… I know… I tried).
I feel it’s important to have a standard AA or AAA battery powered backup for each of the “on bike” lights. That way if you forget to charge your USB light (or it breaks for some reason) you have a system that will keep you legal, and hopefully safe. Should the backup’s batteries fail, you can always replace them at any convenience shop.
Oh, and on the spokes, there’s these reflective “wheel blessings” from banggood.com. They cost ~$2USD for 12 pieces. It takes 5 sets to get one on each spoke, and shipping is free from China. http://www.banggood.com/12Pcs-Bike-Bicycle-Wheel-Spoke-Reflector-Reflective-Mount-Clip-Tube-p-916021.html
Thanks! Great to chat up in person!
Hey, everyone. Our intention with the Be Seen Be Safe campaign is to celebrate the idea that all road users need to look out for each other. So when we looked at reinvigorating the campaign this year we embraced a more positive approach and purposefully tried to avoid victim-blaming.
This year’s ads showing people who walk and bike don’t imply that you’ll get run over unless you dress like a traffic cone. We’re encouraging people to dress bright and/or use a light, but we’re very intentionally not saying “…or else.”
We recognize that people who bike, walk, and roll — many of whom are TriMet riders — are vulnerable road users (and most of us count ourselves among them). That’s why we tried to show that if you want to take the precaution of being seen when you’re out and it’s dark, you can wear normal looking clothes with reflective accents — they don’t have to look crazy, they don’t have to be inconvenient and they don’t have to all be blaze orange. (Not that there’s anything wrong with blaze orange.)
And it’s worth noting that we do have ads on buses targeted at drivers, reminding them that they need to pay attention behind the wheel. We know very well that distracted driving is a huge problem.
Let’s keep helping each other out being seen and being safe while moving around in our city and throughout our region. See you out there soon.
Important think to remember about walking or biking… The person who is most responsible for your safety can be seen in a mirror.
I wouldn’t be as annoyed about this if it wasn’t for the article on this very web site about a driver exonerated for hitting a cyclist because there was “no way” for her to see him at noon on a bright sunny day because he was in shadow for a fraction of a second as he approached the intersection she left-crossed him.
How about trimet offers a 1 million auto payout if their driver kills a cyclists or ped that has the right of way?
Or…just blame the victim. Soooooo much easier
Just curious, what is the transit rate of trimet employees excluding drivers getting to their route start?
Are you asking how many Trimet employees take the bus or MAX to/from work?