City of Portland will deploy ‘Be Seen Be Safe’ street teams as dark season begins

Posted by on November 7th, 2016 at 4:17 pm

PBOT’s ‘Street Team.’
(Photo: City of Portland)

With the sun now setting well before the evening rush-hour, the City of Portland wants everyone to step-up their vigilance and visibility while using the roads.

In a statement released today the bureau of transportation (PBOT) shared tips about how to safely operate a motor vehicle and how to increase your chance of being seen if you are walking or rolling. They also announced that all this week “street teams” made up of PBOT volunteers and staff will be stationed at danger hot-spots throughout the city. These teams will pass out lights and reflective stickers to people who walk and roll by.

PR efforts like this are typical for transportation agencies this time of year, and they often put most of the onus of responsibility for being seen on vulnerable users. But PBOT is not your typical city transportation agency. They know better.

Notice the amount of space and detail PBOT devoted to motor vehicle safety in their statement:

PBOT’s statement focused mostly on things auto users should do to keep themselves and others safe. Here’s their advice:

People driving [notice they don’t use “motorists”] can increase visibility by using their headlights, leaving a safe distance between vehicles to increase your cone of vision, and continuously scanning the environment looking for people walking and bicycling. Always be alert and practice extra caution during winter’s rain and low light. Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised in the dark, and the glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can significantly impact a driver’s vision. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited creating less time to react to something in the road, especially when driving at higher speeds.

People driving need to:
— Remember to practice patience and slow down
— Stay in your lane and beware of drivers who dart from lane to lane
— Even though the route may be familiar, don’t go on autopilot; stay alert and ALWAYS watch for vulnerable road users such as people walking, biking and rolling
— Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink or do other things that are distracting

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They also mentioned how older drivers need to: drive more slowly, make sure their vision is adequate, try to drive only in the daytime, double-check prescription drug side-effects, and even take a driving course to make sure they know the latest laws.

When it comes to walking and biking, PBOT says people should wear reflective gear and use lights.

It’s refreshing to see that PBOT has targeted most of this messaging to motorized vehicle users. After all, when we drive we have the potential to do the most harm.

If you want to grab some safety swag on your way home this week, check out the Be Safe Be Seen Street Team locations, times, and days below:

Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – N Williams Ave/NE Morris to NE Going
Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – SE Foster/SE 80th
Monday, Nov. 7, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Providence Park MAX Station at SW 18/SE Morrison
Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7:00 – 8:30 AM – E Burnside/NE 16
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – SE Division/SE 82
Thursday, Nov. 10, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Rosa Parks/Delaware/Greeley
Friday, Nov. 11, 4:30 – 6:00 PM – Greeley/Bryant/Lombard

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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167 Comments
  • Avatar
    D November 7, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    This is just more PR BS from PBOT. How many more cyclists and pedestrians need get killed before they do something useful?

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty November 7, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      If this was all PBOT was doing around safety, you’d probably have a point.

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        J_R November 7, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        Well, they did create a new logo and they are having a committee meet to talk about Vision Zero and they will undoubtedly be producing an annual progress report. So, it’s true handing out reflectors and lights is not the only thing they are doing.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 7, 2016 at 5:46 pm

          That’s hardly fair. They are also waiting for someone to be killed so they can consider a modest infrastructure upgrade to prevent an identical incident from recurring in the same location.

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    Paul Atkinson November 7, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I definitely appreciate the amount of movement from their previous messaging.

    I hope they’ll continue to move that direction. For example, they’re spending money to hand out lights and reflectors; that does nothing to take dangerous drivers off the road or remove driver distractions. I’d prefer to see teams on commute routes identifying distracted drivers and getting their attention back on their task. Put up a counter with a timer and “drivers on the phone,” and call them out on a bullhorn. “HANG UP NOW AND NEVER PICK THAT UP AGAIN UNTIL YOU’RE PARKED.”

    Just spitballing. Which could also work but would be rude, and gross.

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      canuck November 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

      So how does PBOT take dangerous drivers off the road? Do they now have an enforcement division ?

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty November 7, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    As a critic of the critics of “Be Seen”, I agree… it’s good they’re putting the emphasis on drivers, where it belongs.

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    jayson November 7, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    How about encouraging drivers to “Be Seeing”?

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      John Lascurettes November 7, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      AKA: “Be looking”

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      q November 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Yes. Although the written material has advice for drivers, the whole campaign is aimed at pedestrians and cyclists–starting with the “Be Seen…” title, passing out lights and stickers from the sidewalk…

      It’s almost as if the info aimed at drivers is meant to deflect criticism that this is no different than other similar programs that put the burden on pedestrians and cyclists. I wouldn’t say that if the program had your “Be Seeing (or Looking)” title, and volunteers and staff were handing driving advice handouts to drivers in parking lots.

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        9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:03 am

        Excellent point, q. Thank you.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

        “Almost” as if?

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          q November 8, 2016 at 8:33 pm

          Yes, but it’s almost as if you don’t need “almost”.

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    Todd Boulanger November 7, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Another element to add to this initiative would be to:
    – FYI this initiative to Multnomah County judges (traffic court etc); and
    – invite these judges out to participate…

    …since often the missing “E” in the 5 “Es” is enforcement in the courts…too many judges and juries still think of themselves as motorists first and foremost…

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      Todd Boulanger November 7, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      …and not participate as drivers but as spectators / vulnerable roadway users…hi-viz robes cannot hurt either.

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    Kyle Banerjee November 7, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Handing out lights and reflector seems like a decent way to help cyclists who are too stubborn to obseve minimal common sense safety practices at least comply with minimal night time legal riding requirements.

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      John Lascurettes November 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      My bike is equipped with high-lumens dynamo-powered lights, front and back, that I ride with always-on all year day or night; as well, my pannier has large reflective surfaces, as do my helmet, my jacket, my shoes, and my tires’ sidewalls — and yet, I’ve had too many close calls where someone has said “I never saw you.”

      You were saying?

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        John Lascurettes November 7, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        I mean, I’m as frustrated by bike ninjas as anyone (the ultimate is bike ninja crossed with a salmon) — even as another cyclist who’s been surprised by a shadow of a cyclist on a dark side street — but we really need to stop putting the blame on slow-moving dark objects and put it on operators of fast-moving behemoths that tend to outrun their headlights (and their own sense of attention to the road).

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          wsbob November 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm

          “…and put it on operators of fast-moving behemoths that tend to outrun their headlights (and their own sense of attention to the road).” lascurettes

          Do you feel the type of people driving that you refer to, will pay any attention to the PBOT safety message excerpts featured in this bikeportland story?

          Seems to me, this ‘drivers of motor vehicles safety message’, likely will be paid little, if any attention to by this type driver. People on the road driving well…which is probably somewhere around 80-90 percent of the people driving…likely as a matter of standard practice, already are driving consistent with what the safety message advises them.

          That returns to what has been a perennial problem, which is numbers of people walking and biking, not having given sufficient consideration of their visibility to people driving.

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            Angel York November 8, 2016 at 8:27 am

            Do you feel the type of people driving that you refer to, will pay any attention to the PBOT safety message excerpts featured in this bikeportland story?

            A few of them might. When I got this email from PBOT, I copy-paste-posted it to Nextdoor.

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            Dan A November 8, 2016 at 8:57 am

            Yes, keep blaming the vulnerable for our problems.

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            Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:07 am

            “People on the road driving well…which is probably somewhere around 80-90 percent of the people driving”

            wow, you have the opposite observation than I do… I observe 95% of people are breaking the law with their driving…

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              wsbob November 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

              I want to just emphasize a larger, relevant part of what I wrote:

              “…People on the road driving well…which is probably somewhere around 80-90 percent of the people driving…likely as a matter of standard practice, already are driving consistent with what the safety message advises them. …” wsbob

              I don’t mean general liberties taken with laws regarding use of the road. What I’m expressing, is that I think that with respect to vulnerable road users, that percent of people driving are driving well. Yes, I’m sure, depending on the area, situation, that this percent would vary, with more incidents likely occurring in Downtown as compared to neighborhoods or the burbs.

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          Stephen Keller November 7, 2016 at 8:22 pm

          I’m convinced some of my close calls have been deliberate attempts on the part of people driving to intimidate someone on a bike.

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          soren November 7, 2016 at 9:18 pm

          I love pedestrian ninjas (e.g. everyone except for PBOT employees handing out 1 lumen blinkies) and bike ninjas (~50% of those cycling in SE PDX at night) because their materialization “out of nowhere” tends to shock drivers into moderating their speed and paying effing attention. Just imagine how safe our roads would be if our ninja mode share was 30-40% (as in Amsterdam).

          PS: I myself walk and bike ninja-style often and have somehow survived. It’s a miracle.

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            Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 8:56 am

            I never wore lights or reflective clothing when walking until moving to Portland.

            The reason I use both now has nothing to do with cars — identifying large, loud, brightly lit things at night when crossing streets I know to be populated with the things is something every 4 year old has mastered.

            It is because ninja cyclists not only can’t be seen (i.e. I don’t spot or hear them until it’s too late), but they can’t see what they’re doing either. So my ped visibility is all about cyclists and has nothing to do with drivers.

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              9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:05 am

              “It is because ninja cyclists not only can’t be seen…”

              How do you know they are there then?
              So tired of this defense of high viz.

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                dwk November 8, 2016 at 9:23 am

                I am pretty tired of the “no viz” defense. Ninja peds are just a big a danger to cyclists as they are to cars.
                Idiocy…..

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                9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:26 am

                No one I know (well except for soren) who is into no viz. My point here has never been to advocate for no viz but to criticize the cultural bias that focuses on the viz of the unmotorized rather than the perspicacity of the automobile pilot.

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                soren November 8, 2016 at 10:29 am

                9watts, characterizing my position as “no-viz” is unfair. i favor evidence-based safety reform and there is little evidence that day-glo hi-viz clothing is superior to plain old reflective features/accents on the proverbial dark and stormy night. my main point here is to argue that safety “education” is, for the most part, a waste of limited funds that could be spent on re-engineering are roads.

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                soren November 8, 2016 at 10:29 am

                “our” roads.

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                Kyle Banerjee November 10, 2016 at 11:08 am

                @Soren, for once I agree with you.

                Visibility is highly contextual and while hi viz can be very effective in certain conditions, in dark storms it does very little and black with reflective accents can be significantly more effective.

                Greater brightness is not the same as more visible. I’ve done numerous experiments over the years, and my experience is that you want to be immediately obvious as a cyclist while not being visually distracting. Achieving this is not an intuitive process.

                I personally use color, lighting, and reflection based on actual riding conditions and my setups vary significantly.

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              Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:33 am

              “It is because ninja cyclists not only can’t be seen”

              if they can’t be seen then you also can’t see the road to tell if it’s clear to proceed…

              you have to be able to tell that a pitch black road is clear before you proceed…

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 9:54 am

            I think the shock you desire is taking some time to kick in. Any day now…

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        • Adam H.
          Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 8:33 am

          Why doesn’t PBOT just make the streets brighter by installing more than one street lamp per corner? Non-commercial/bus streets in Portland are so dark!

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 9:58 am

            Brighter lights = more contrast between dark and lit areas and less dark-adjusted eyes = more difficulty seeing what is in those unlit areas = less safety.

            I believe cutting the lights in half would increase safety.

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              Dan A November 8, 2016 at 10:09 am

              I agree, I have the hardest time seeing right after I’ve passed under a streetlight.

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            • Adam H.
              Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

              There are some streets in Portland where I literally cannot see a thing. Surely some contrast is better than total blindness.

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 11:18 am

                “Literally” cannot see a thing?

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 11:19 am

                Yes, literally. I have had to use the flashlight on my phone a few times.

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 11:24 am

                I suggest using a headlight so that you can see where you are going and not run into things.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 11:25 am

                Seriously? I should not need a headlamp to walk around my neighborhood at night.

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                james November 8, 2016 at 4:50 pm

                Try SE Mill St E and W of 82nd on a new moon.

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      Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 8:57 am

      your common sense safety is not the same as other’s common sense safety…

      it seems perfectly safe to me to cycle without a light at all in the city… it’s already bright enough to see where you’re going, and you know to be cautious of cross-traffic…

      I’ve never had a problem biking or driving near bike ninjas…

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    B. Carfree November 7, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I’d like to see those street teams change their focus (ahem) and perform complete vision testing to help motorists understand that they just can’t see like they could when they were young.

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      John Lascurettes November 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      As someone who is pushing 50 and well-aware of how much glare affects me at night, I fully endorse this. It’s not dark that affects me so much (I can still see really well in low-light), it’s the adjustment back and forth between someone’s mis-aimed lights (or high beams) and darkness that takes much longer than it used to.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty November 7, 2016 at 5:50 pm

        It might also be interesting for drivers and cyclists alike to see some sort of realistic demo of how difficult it can be to spot a cyclist at night when it’s raining and our new LED lighting creates pools of bright light and inky darkness.

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          Kyle Banerjee November 7, 2016 at 6:03 pm

          Having both see what’s going on would help people wrap their mind around the problem. @John, I totally get where you’re coming from — no matter what you do, some still won’t see you and even when they do, it doesn’t register on them that they had to do anything.

          In urban environments, the problem tends to be less about things being totally invisible because there is considerable ambient light, but making out important things in the mix of shadows, reflections, spots of light, etc.

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            9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:30 am

            “no matter what you do, some still won’t see you and even when they do, it doesn’t register on them that they had to do anything.”

            And your penchant here to cheer the frequently observed drift toward high viz does nothing to focus our attention on this solvable problem.

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              Ian November 8, 2016 at 10:45 am

              For my part, making sure I’m readily visible in a dangerous and busy environment feels like a straightforward solution to a solvable problem. Yes, drivers should be more cautious and aware generally, but given the choice between trying to convince all drivers to change their habits and attitudes and doing my part to help drivers see me in a low-visibility situation, the latter would seem to be a bit more effective. (Not that it needs to be a choice, of course, but this forum’s general aversion to encouraging vulnerable road users to exercise agency over their own personal safety never ceases to amaze me.)

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                El Biciclero November 8, 2016 at 11:17 am

                “…this forum’s general aversion to encouraging vulnerable road users to exercise agency over their own personal safety never ceases to amaze me.”

                I think there’s a lot less of that going on than you imagine. Not many (if any) are saying “dress in black at night! Don’t use lights! Try to be as invisible as possible!” The admonition is that we can’t give drivers any more excuses to run over people. Maybe wearing reflective, hi-viz apparel works, but I can testify from personal experience (as can many commenters here), that it also doesn’t work. Furthermore, there are many, many ways other than “visibility” in which VRUs can exercise agency over their own personal safety. Why do you assume that because many people want to hold drivers—who wield about 99.9% of the deadly force on the road—to a higher level of responsibility, they must also be in favor of abdicating all responsibility for their own safety? The apportionment of responsibility we currently assume or enforce is extremely out-of-proportion to the amount of danger posed by motorists vs. VRUs. Maybe that’s why calls to increase the level of responsibility ascribed to motorists sound so extreme?

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                dwk November 8, 2016 at 11:21 am

                “I think there’s a lot less of that going on than you imagine.”

                Really? Do you read the comments?

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

                Hmm, the full quote is:

                I think there’s a lot less of that going on than you imagine. Not many (if any) are saying “dress in black at night! Don’t use lights! Try to be as invisible as possible!”

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                El Biciclero November 8, 2016 at 12:28 pm

                “Really? Do you read the comments?”

                Yes. And I don’t think there is anyone who would encourage VRUs to “Be Dangerous, Be Invisible”. I think we would all encourage each other to exercise agency over their personal safety, but there are many ways to do that besides mere overvizification. I also think that such encouragement is largely unnecessary, due to survival instinct. I think the negative reactions here are to the way in which “safety” messages are targeted and delivered. We could just as easily have a campaign entitled “Slow Down, Look Around”—it’s even more rhymey than the real title—but we don’t. Even though I applaud PBOT for at least leading off the brochure with driving tips that include speed reduction as one measure to be taken, the very name of the campaign will let drivers tune out immediately because they can see it isn’t targeted at them.

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                John Lascurettes November 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm

                “Slow down. Look around.” is a MUCH better education campaign.

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          Pete November 7, 2016 at 6:23 pm

          Yes, absolutely! In my (limited) spare time I’ve been organizing lighting workshops for bike commuters at my workplace. We did this in the LCI course I took and it was illuminating (sorry). Once you get to see yourself through the eyes of a driver (or rather, GoPro Hero), you’ll be surprised at your own misconceptions around visibility equipment and techniques.

          Ride 500′ (OK, 600′ up there) away from and then back towards a parked car with its headlights on in the dark while video is taken from a camera attached to the hood (in front of where the driver sits). Bring your best visibility game, then sit back and watch the results unfold over a beverage of your choice. Next step is prizes for 1) most visible, and 2) if you’ve guessed who will be most visible.

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      Gerald Fittipaldi November 7, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      This gives me an idea. What if all people driving involved in a crash which includes a person walking or biking were required to take a vision test shortly after the incident?

      If their vision is marginally sub-par they could get a warning. However, if they have horrendous vision they could receive serious consequences. Not sure about the details (20/20 vision vs night vision vs glare vision), but I’m sure there are some people out there who should not be driving automobiles in dark, wet conditions, and if they are they should be driving extremely slowly and carefully. That may mean looking both ways twice, instead of once, at stop signs, or driving well under the posted speed limit.

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        9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:09 am

        And let’s remember that seeing out of an automobile at night, never mind when it is raining is no fun. It is hard. It is easy to miss stuff out there. BUT THIS IS NOT MY PROBLEM, NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY, AS SOMEONE WALKING OR BIKING.
        Kyle B will no doubt point out that if I get killed I will take no satisfaction from this conclusion, which while correct but is I think beside the point, which is that the difficulty seeing out of an automobile under less than favorable conditions should lead those within to throttle their speed until they can safely proceed given the difficulties their mode choice presents.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 10:00 am

          It may not be your responsibility, but you suffer most if you get hit. It is totally in your interest to ensure that doesn’t happen, even if the moral and legal responsibility rests on another party.

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          Ian November 8, 2016 at 10:50 am

          How is that beside the point? If you get hit by a car in part because you made a conscious decision to not help drivers out by being more visible, how is that not your problem? Why must we be so focused on who’s ultimately to blame for a crash that we discourage taking steps to avoid the crash?

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            Dan A November 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

            Could you point me to the comment in this thread where someone discouraged taking steps to avoid being hit by a car?

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              dwk November 8, 2016 at 11:27 am

              “I love pedestrian ninjas (e.g. everyone except for PBOT employees handing out 1 lumen blinkies) and bike ninjas (~50% of those cycling in SE PDX at night) because their materialization “out of nowhere” tends to shock drivers into moderating their speed and paying effing attention. “

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm

                Having bike ninjas out there in the world is good for you, and for everyone else riding or walking in the dark, because it encourages drivers to slow down. That’s not the same thing as saying, “Be a bike ninja!” Having police around is good too, and surely you know that’s not the same thing as saying, “Be a policeman!”

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                soren November 8, 2016 at 12:45 pm

                exactly. i ride without lights in the evening because i stayed out later than i intended or because i forgot my lights.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 11:41 am

              I’ll also note that no one is saying that drivers should not take extra caution when conditions warrant, nor that they do not bear responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

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              Ian November 8, 2016 at 12:02 pm

              Here’s another one (in response to James’ comment that being visible is common sense):

              > stop with the victim blaming…

              > there’s nothing unsafe about walking/biking around in the dark rainy night dressed in black…

              > what’s unsafe is drivers of 2 ton explosion-powered weapons not ensuring the road is clear before they proceed…

              This attitude seems representative of this forum in general: encouraging people to take responsibility for their own safety even when it’s not legally/morally mandated is “victim blaming,” and the fact that it’s drivers who make roads unsafe means nobody other than drivers can be said to be using the road in an unsafe manner.

              As usual, I think Hello, Kitty said it best:

              > It may not be your responsibility, but you suffer most if you get hit. It is totally in your interest to ensure that doesn’t happen, even if the moral and legal responsibility rests on another party.

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 3:08 pm

                I guess it depends on how you define “unsafe”. People walking in the dark in the rain in dark clothing are not causing deaths at an epidemic rate. I wonder if anyone could find one single story where the presence of someone in dark clothing caused the death of somebody else.

                On the other hand, lots of drivers have harmed people by failing to exercise proper care, ie. slowing down and watching for vulnerable road users when they drive, especially in adverse conditions. That’s what I call “unsafe”.

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                El Biciclero November 8, 2016 at 3:22 pm

                “I wonder if anyone could find one single story where the presence of someone in dark clothing caused the death of somebody else.”

                O.J.?

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm

                OJ ‘being present’ didn’t cause the death of someone. I think it was the knife holes.

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        BrianC November 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm

        I had a short conversation with one of my eye surgeons about this subject.

        From memory: Essentially to get a license to drive during daylight hours you need one eye to correct to no worse than 20/70 vision. To drive at night you need one eye to correct to no worse than 20/40.

        Do you find this frightening? I did.

        I remind my 16 year old sons, that just because *you* can see in the dark doesn’t mean *others* can…

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      CaptainKarma November 9, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      The real problem is people driving cars looking at the brighter screen of a cell phone in a dark interior, and then glancing up at intervals of what? 20 meters, 100 meters? And expecting to see a ninja on a bike salmoning against or across traffic in the rain at night. I don’t care your eyeballs’ age, ghe odds of perceiving, processing, and acting are dramatically reduced in those short event horizons. Everybody shares in the final outcome, good or bad.

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    joel November 7, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    oh, so thats who was standing at the corner of n williams/morris flashing blinkies at approaching cyclists, fooling us into thinking they were peds waiting at the crosswalk (for us few that actually bother to stop or slow for peds on williams), and getting people to stop in an already crowded bike lane. great choice of handout location and strategy.

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  • TonyT
    TonyT November 7, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    But the “Be Safe, Be Seen” campaign remains and that campaign title puts ALL of the onus on vulnerable road users. How about a clever slogan referencing rain and darkness and slowing down.

    How about some enforcements, ANY enforcements, at actual, for real unmarked crosswalks, and no, PBOT’s favorite “unmarked” crosswalk at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Cooper St., with its 6 signs and a painted median does not count.

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      wsbob November 7, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      “…ALL of the onus on vulnerable road users. …” tony t

      What do you mean by “…ALL of the onus on vulnerable road users. …” ?

      People driving, have a responsibility to be on the watch for, and see to the best of their ability, people on the road not in motor vehicles. It’s for help in meeting this responsibility, that is one of the reasons motor vehicles have headlights.

      Particularly in very low light conditions and situations such as poorly streetlight lit, tree lined neighborhood streets, or country roads, maybe a good rule of thumb could be that vulnerable road users should be as visible to people that drive, as are white lines on the road. Or yellow too, I suppose. I think both colors of street paint may have reflective material as part of the ingredients.

      I noticed this again, a couple days ago when I left home on the bike at 7am with the headlight on. The white center-line reflected my bike’s headlight beam back to me, well enough that I could detect the reflective granuales in the paint.

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        Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

        nice selective quoting…

        let me try…

        The “Be Safe, Be Seen” campaign title puts ALL of the onus on vulnerable road users.

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          wsbob November 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

          What I was inquiring of Tony T, was what he considered the ‘onus’, or the burden to be. I guessed he was referring to visibility of vulnerability road user to people that drive. I disagree that the campaign puts the burden for visibility, exclusively, which is why I noted that motor vehicles have headlights to enable people driving to see motor vehicles.

          The ‘Be Seen, Be Safe’ campaign is an appeal for safety of vulnerable road users to people that walk and bike, as well as those that drive. Many people driving have friends and family members that walk and bike. I definitely believe these safety messages are noticed and taken to heart by many such people driving.

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      Todd Hudson November 8, 2016 at 9:04 am

      How dare PBOT be pragmatic!

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        Dan A November 8, 2016 at 10:11 am

        Define pragmatic in this scenario.

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    Kristi Finney November 7, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks for the information. I appreciate their efforts in trying to improve safety, and encouraging responsibility, for all road users.

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    Robert Burchett November 7, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    The free blinkie lights make decent spares for those times when your battery management breaks down, or your generator powered light fails (guess that’s rare w/ LED models.) Once you pull the little strip out they go downhill fast though.

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    q November 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Several other recent articles here discussed “victim blaming”, and described cases where police had no criticisms of drivers who hit pedestrians or cyclists. Several of those happened in darkness, when night vision ability is relevant, or darkness plus rain, when people with poor night vision are especially challenged. But drivers’ night vision was never mentioned as a possible factor in any of the cases, nor were drivers’ ages, which correlate with night vision ability.

    It’s a huge but rarely mentioned hole in drivers’ performance. Someone who can easily pass the licensing eye test could be virtually blind at night. I’d guess that any time an older driver hits someone in the dark, chances are good that poor night vision was at least a factor.

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      Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:16 am

      a person that passes the DMV vision test might still need reading glasses and not wear them when they drive and may not be able to tell what speed they’re driving because they can’t read the speedometer…

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    soren November 7, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Suggesting that people walking in an urban area have some culpability for being hit, injured, or killed because they are not wearing hi-viz reflective gear and/or pedestrian blinky lights is reprehensible. If PBOT genuinely believes that people walking are so “invisible” that they need to wear day-glo vests and lights in order to walk safely in this city then perhaps they should campaign to make jaywalking a felony (as in Florida).

    Moreover, PBOT’s language and imagery in this statement is remarkably similar to campaigns by Trimet that were strongly criticized by Bike Portland. Why is there a double standard?

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      Eric Leifsdad November 7, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      When in Stolkholm…

      This does seem like a bit of an improvement. PBOT isn’t going out there throwing boulders into crosswalks or washing+waxing windshields at stop lights yet, but it’s a start.

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      wsbob November 7, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      To me, culpability certainly does not seem to be the central area of importance whether it regards people walking, biking, or driving motor vehicles.

      The vulnerability and related visibility to people driving, of people walking and biking, and otherwise not using the road within the protection of motor vehicles, is of far greater importance than is culpability.

      It seems some people apparently misinterpret the intent of safety campaigns encouraging selective use of visibility gear by people walking and biking…coming to the conclusion that the suggestion is for people walking, biking, etc, everywhere on the road at night, regardless of lighting conditions at hand. I don’t think that’s at all the intended suggestion.

      Nor do I think the intent of such campaigns is to relieve people that drive, of their responsibility to be aware of and on the watch for vulnerable road users that for various reasons not associated with health or actions of the person driving…may be very difficult to see.

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        soren November 8, 2016 at 9:02 am

        Instructing people walking (or biking) to wear chartreuse chastity vests at night reinforces societal prejudice towards vulnerable traffic. This “safety” campaign is the active transportation equivalent of slut shaming.

        It’s sad to see PBOT make the same mistakes as NYC.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/14/nyregion/a-safety-plan-with-swedish-logic-and-city-smarts.html

        On policies like lowering speeds and expanding automated enforcement, for instance, the de Blasio administration seems poised to embrace the Swedish way, in large measure. But the camps appear to diverge on the significance of individual responsibility in street safety, both for drivers and pedestrians.

        Indeed, the Swedish philosophy assumes human imperfection at every turn, and places the onus of mitigating its effects largely on traffic engineers.

        “It’s actually quite horrible,” said Ylva Berg, the national coordinator of road safety for the Swedish Transport Administration, of some such education efforts, including a New York Police Department campaign earlier this year to deliver fliers in areas with a recent history of fatal crashes. “Those being victimized in those crashes are those being told to do better.”

        I agree with Yiva Berg. These safety campaigns are quite horrible.

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          wsbob November 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

          “…Instructing people walking (or biking) to wear chartreuse chastity vests at night reinforces societal prejudice towards vulnerable traffic. This “safety” campaign is the active transportation equivalent of slut shaming. …” soren

          People that feel they’ve got to use that kind of arbitrary, loaded language, in your case, evoking chastity vests, sluts, etc, in reference to basic safety messages, are effectively telling me the argument they’re attempting to make, has no grounds for validity.

          I haven’t looked at every nuance of PBOT’s safety campaign…in terms of what is the range of advice the street team is giving the public, but of what I can see in the picture and read in this story, it sounds borne out of sincere concern for people’s safety. Just because members of the team are wearing hi-vis vest as they interact with the public, does not I think, mean they are implying that every person Downtown working in an office or otherwise out on the streets there, or elsewhere in Portland, should be wearing such a vest whenever it’s dark out.

          What I would hope the team is being able to convey in words and actions to members of the public, is that if a vulnerable road user, walking or biking, has reason to believe they may at some point in their travels be entering into areas where for whatever reason, visibility of themselves to road users driving may be poor…that they may prepare in advance by carrying some forms of visibility gear. Even a simple flashlight from the dollar store could help…but better gear would be advisable, I think. Better flashlights, reflective velcro straps, and so on. Just something to pull out when visibility conditions are bad, and then to put away when they improve.

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            Dan A November 8, 2016 at 3:17 pm

            “People that feel they’ve got to use that kind of arbitrary, loaded language, in your case, evoking chastity vests, sluts, etc, in reference to basic safety messages, are effectively telling me the argument they’re attempting to make, has no grounds for validity.”

            I don’t think anyone is saying that it’s invalid. Telling a woman that she shouldn’t walk around downtown by herself at night in provocative clothing is good advice, and valid. But it would be pretty ridiculous to spend money on a public safety campaign to say that, in lieu of addressing the actual problem.

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              Eric Leifsdad November 8, 2016 at 3:38 pm

              One method of addressing that actual problem might be an undercover police officer dressed in provocative clothing perhaps armed with a taser, with surveillance/backup.

              Why isn’t there a public safety campaign where police dressed in black roll boulders into crosswalks?

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                Dan A November 8, 2016 at 6:16 pm

                You could put mannequins in the road dressed in black in give people tickets when they drive into them.

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      Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 8:57 am

      While we’re on double standards, why is no one complaining that MAX is too fast if it travels faster than it can stop for a ninja that suddenly appears on the tracks in a crosswalk?

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        9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:34 am

        “a ninja that suddenly appears”

        is that even possible? You said upthread they ‘can’t be seen.’

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 10:10 am

          It’s well known that ninjas can phase in and out of visibility.

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        Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:46 am

        does the MAX go through an unsignalized intersections? I can’t think of any… I know the streetcar does, but it goes slower, is smaller, and thus can stop faster…

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          Robert Burchett November 8, 2016 at 10:26 am

          Kind of hilariously, at the SW Ankeny/1st Avenue intersection, there’s a stop sign for East bound vehicles but no gates and no flashing lights. Seems to work out OK though..

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 10:07 am

      PBOT is not suggesting pedestrians have culpability for being hit any more than not locking your bike suggests culpability for it being stolen. In both cases, it is in your interest to take some action to avoid something that is 100% not your fault from occurring.

      Why do you object to the city giving out blinky lights but not bike locks?

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      Robert Burchett November 8, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Really? Let’s be fair. Advice for MV operators was first, and three times as long (nothing like TriMet). I guess the folks at PBOT are shaking their heads and saying “what do these cranky bikers want?” –before going out to ride home on their bikes which are no doubt bedecked with lights and stuff.

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        Dan A November 8, 2016 at 11:26 am

        And yet, nothing in there says ‘slow down’, so how good could that advice be?

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          Dan A November 8, 2016 at 2:02 pm

          Oh, never mind, it does say ‘Remember to practice patience and slow down’. That’s a great idea! If people actually did that, I bet we could pretty much eliminate traffic fatalities.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Victim-blaming season has begun!

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      B. Carfree November 8, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Does it ever end?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. November 8, 2016 at 1:54 pm

        Touché

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    Peter Hass November 8, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Good for PBOT. IMO it’s a wise decision to “be seen” when it’s dark and/or rainy out. Heck, even when it’s not dark and/or rainy out. I’d like to believe it lowers the risk of being hit even though the reality may be that it just makes me feel safer versus me actually being safer. Either way, it seems like an action I can do that might help erode the “I didn’t see him/her” line of defense careless drivers so often use.

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      9watts November 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

      “Either way, it seems like an action I can do that might help erode the “I didn’t see him/her” line of defense careless drivers so often use.”

      I see this inverted 180degrees. The focus on reflective garb reifies the notion that the only visible pedestrian or cyclist is the lit up one, and if they aren’t wearing this stuff that I can’t be held responsible.

      And we know from reading the comments and stories here that plenty of people who were lit up/reflectorized were still hit (Ellen Dittebrand, Christeen Osborn, etc.)

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      Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Always a good idea to be seen. That’s why a lot of hunters wear bright orange and a lot of paddle craft have SOLAS tape on them.

      The number of potentially dangerous encounters on the roads is far greater than in the water or the woods. Curiously, boaters and hunters advocating visibility/safety are regarded as unnecessarily cautious at worst and smart at best.

      Can’t say I’ve ever heard the phrase “victim blaming” used in any other activity I’ve participated in and I do things that are more dangerous than cycling. In those cases, people simply won’t go out with you because they don’t want you endangering others, being involved in a difficult and dangerous rescue, or being associated with someone who puts the sport in a negative light.

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        Dan A November 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        Do you suppose it makes more sense to give hunter safety courses to hunters or to campers? Where is that training most effective?

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 3:59 pm

          Hunters don’t shoot campers… they shoot other hunters.

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              Dan A November 8, 2016 at 7:22 pm

              BTW, he was sentenced to 2 1/2 years (served 11 months) and $10,000 fine for failing to identify his target and breaking the conditions of his hunting permit by shooting at night in a public park. The judge said he “failed to exercise the judgment and commonsense expected of hunters in possession of a lethal weapon and had instead shown sheer carelessness and stupidity”.

              Sounds like a good penalty for failing to watch for people when you drive.

              You know, instead of starting a campaign to warn campers about the unsafe camping conditions around lawless hunters.

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            Robert Burchett November 9, 2016 at 7:35 pm

            Years ago there was a case in Missouri where a person shot at a rabbit on an up slope, the bullet passed above I-70 and hit a nursery worker a half mile away in the neck. Still dead. A bullet, even a .22, doesn’t care if you’re hunting.

            Hiking in Mt. National Forest on a marked and maintained trail, I walked around a corner with my friend to see two kids aiming air rifles up the trail at the tree behind us. Nobody got shot. I did not cuss anybody out or break anything. Kind of feel like I should have but the kids were actually scared and that seemed like enough at the time.

            What’s the point? The only categories that matter are, people who shoot without knowing where the shot will fall, and people who get shot. People in cars mostly kill people in cars but that doesn’t make me feel better.

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        Alex Reedin November 8, 2016 at 1:34 pm

        A major issue I see is that walking (especially!) for transportation, and even biking, is not a “sport” or some kind of special extra activity. It’s something normal that fits into someone’s normal life. That means that if we add reflectivity and day-glo as a societal requirement, people who get around on foot or bike often will have to wear this special clothing or lighting ALL THE TIME or else carry around extra clothing to change into. They may have to consider reflectivity when buying every shirt or piece of outerwear that they want to buy. This adds cost and hassle every time one buys clothes. It’s a significant burden to ask someone to take on and far above the burden of wearing one set of special gear occasionally when engaging in one’s hobby.

        The fact is that wearing this stuff every time one walks at night is never going to happen for a large percentage of the population unless we outlaw walking in dark or non-reflective clothing at night and enforce that law much better than we enforce our traffic laws. I regard that as an absurd suggestion personally, and I think this whole idea of reflectivity and lights for people walking is pouring money and effort down a rabbit hole that will never get us to safety. That money and effort would be much better spent on, for example, automated speed cameras.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 4:02 pm

          I’d be inclined to agree if PBOT spent more than a tiny amount of money on this program. If this is your concern, we should figure out what the budget is and propose alternative uses for the money that will increase safety more.

          I suspect (but do not know) that the total “Be Seen” budget is so small that they are not not doing anything because of it.

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            Alex Reedin November 8, 2016 at 4:53 pm

            Lots of little useless things, if cut, could fund one useful thing. And, the staff time is significant – it looks like at least one PBOT staffer if not more is spending two weeks’ worth of afternoons to hand out blinkies, plus the marketing folks’ time to craft and send this press release, the supply chain folks’ time to order the swag, etc.

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          Beth November 12, 2016 at 6:38 pm

          I feel like no matter what we do, we’re screwed by the current system.
          Whether I try to wear an “average” amount of hi-viz stuff — say, reflective trouser strips and a jacket with reflective piping, or little to no hi-viz clothing, or lay it on so thick I look
          ike a Christmas tree on acid, it doesn’t matter.
          In a collision with a car I will likely be blamed for daring to ride my bicycle on a road designed for higher-speed, motorized vehicles.
          That feels like the real bottom line to me, and it won’t be solved until we create more separated bike paths for real across-town transportation.
          A hundred and sixty comments about hi-viz clothing are a hundred and sixty comments that distract from what is really needed.
          When will we demand what we really want and need and stop taking baby steps in our advocacy for human-scale infrastructure?

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            El Biciclero November 13, 2016 at 10:06 am

            “…create more separated bike paths for real across-town transportation.”

            When you say “real”, are you talking about separated infrastructure that still allows efficient (oops, I mean fast) bicycle travel to actual destinations? What does that look like?

            I’m being honest here: one of my fears is that anything Americans create as “separated” or “protected”, will also foist all manner of imposed slowness (<10mph), mixing with pedestrians, detours or extra maneuvers (two-point, "pedestrian" left turns, e.g.)—such that the price of protection ("safety") is never really being able to travel longer distances in any reasonable amount of time.

            I'd love to see the "bike superhighway" concept implemented for travel between towns/suburbs, but I would love to know what that looks like within a city.

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          q November 12, 2016 at 9:09 pm

          Alex–exactly. It’s as if PBOT thinks “pedestrians” are a special group,like joggers–you change into your reflective pedestrian clothes, go out for a walk, then take a shower and change into your regular,dark work or home outfit.

          I’ve always thought the emphasis on wearing helmets has had negative impacts on cycling, because they add one more distinction between people on bikes and everyone else. It used to be that the difference between someone who rode a bike to work or the store and someone who didn’t was the fact that the biker was on a bike. Now the biker is the one with a helmet and fluorescent, reflective coat.

          It used to be people who walked to work or the store dressed exactly like everyone else. Now they’ll be the people in fluorescent, reflective coats that don’t have bikes.

          I can see the safety message backfiring, with people made to feel like if they don’t have the special gear, they shouldn’t be walking, because it’s irresponsible and dangerous. Actually, that wouldn’t be surprising, because it’s pretty much exactly what PBOT IS telling them.

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            soren November 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm

            people who walk to work in inner portland are overwhelmingly lower income folk (Census ACS).

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            El Biciclero November 13, 2016 at 5:06 pm

            Well, you can bet most people who drive to work and have to park a block away (or more) aren’t going to think of themselves as “Pedestrians” for the block or two they have to walk between the office and the parking lot/garage. Are those folks going to carry their reflective orange safety vests in the car, or is that stuff for those other Pedestrians—you know, the ones that are too low-class to afford a car?

            Things could also get a little muddled for the all-or-nothing thinkers if/when bike share usage picks up. Who’s going to use Biketown(tm) bikes? Pedestrians? Cyclists? Tourists?

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              q November 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm

              I can see “safety stations” at parking garages, on buses, etc. where you can grab a fluorescent safety vest before you set foot out the door to your destination, if you don’t have your own, like courtesy umbrellas at outdoor malls. The vests could be free at first, but then after a 6-month trial period you’ll be expected to bring your own, and get charged $0.10 if you forget yours and need to take one. There could also be fines if you’re caught without one, but they’d be called something else, and would fund pedestrian safety campaigns. The goal would be for pedestrian safety programs to become self-sufficient, funded entirely by the people (pedestrians) who are causing the need for the programs, like dog and cat licensing funding Animal Services.

              I guess there could be exemptions to any requirements for visibility gear if you can show you drove to your destination and your walking is incidental to your trip–say 5 blocks or less. But anyone under 16 would have to wear the gear no matter how far they were walking.

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      Dan A November 8, 2016 at 10:14 am

      Do you really need to be told this, though? Wear bright clothing/reflectors/nights at light? I think people know this already, whether they do it or not. I don’t think many drivers know they are required to slow down to account for the conditions, and they could use the education.

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        wsbob November 8, 2016 at 11:50 am

        “…Do you really need to be told this, though? Wear bright clothing/reflectors/nights at light? …” dan a

        Do you mean, there are people that are of need in being advised,: ‘Wear bright clothing/reflectors/lights at night?’ ?

        Depends on visibility conditions in different situations. Downtown, at night, under the generally good lighting there, in clear weather…most likely not. In the very bad weather that we sometimes have here…maybe. Lots of other situations in Porltland’s neighborhoods, the burbs, and in the countryside, where the benefit of using visibility, I think can be very helpful, if not essential.

        There was a time when I personally was not well familiar with just how indiscernible someone on foot or bike, with no lights or reflective gear, could be from surroundings and the background. I kind of took it for granted that walking around the streets, if I didn’t wear some kind of bright jacket, etc, carry a flashlight, though maybe they could see me ok, they would be able to see me well enough.

        Then, reading some of the bikeportland stories on this subject, I began paying extra attention to the difference in relative visibility of people walking and biking, to me with the help of the beam of the motor vehicle’s headlights.

        I soon became aware that the advance in visibility of the person using various types and degree of visibility gear…lights, retro-reflective material, compared to persons not using this type gear, could be much greater. If I hadn’t consciously made an effort to study and mentally compare examples of people as vulnerable road users on the road, with differing degrees of visibility under the beam of motor vehicle headlights, I don’t think I would have realized the dramatic improvement to visibility of people with the gear, to those without the gear.

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        Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 12:26 pm

        I agree that many drivers are unaware they need to slow down for conditions. I’ve personally heard people use the excuse they were going the speed limit for a crash when it was obvious that was completely inappropriate for conditions. Drivers here are famous for their inability to deal with even modest weather so we’re the butt of jokes around the nation whenever there’s a teeny bit of icy or snow.

        That absolutely needs to be hammered through peoples’ thick skulls and it can be done much better and more often than it is. But not all road users who are unaware that they need to modify their behavior for conditions are drivers.

        Everyone needs to use common sense, but a certain percentage of the population can be counted on to resist that.

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          wsbob November 10, 2016 at 10:52 am

          “…I’ve personally heard people use the excuse they were going the speed limit for a crash when it was obvious that was completely inappropriate for conditions. …” banerjee

          Hoping you meant to write: ‘…before a crash…’. If that’s what you meant, I think it’s a valid point that there are people that drive at a posted speed limit which can be too fast for visibility conditions. I’m going to say those people that do, are the vast exception.

          Given that to be the case, I think what’s important to remember about low visibility conditions, is that with reductions in visibility into the distance on roads and streets, so is visibility of everything else reduced, including other motor vehicles, the white and yellow lines on the road, and of course people riding bikes, walking, and other means of travel on the road outside of a motor vehicle.

          Poor visibility conditions can put vulnerable road users not equipped with at least some visibility gear to help improve their visibility to people driving…at a dramatic disadvantage in terms of the relatively superior visibility to people driving, of other motor vehicles, the lines on the road, and so on.

          When visibility conditions are not good, many, many people driving…I’d say most of them…lower the speed traveled of their motor vehicles, irrespective of the posted speed limit, to a speed that allows them safe travel over the road. The reflective painted lines on the road help them with this. So do vehicle headlights and tail lights, and street lights where they exist.

          So for example, during dark, heavy rain low visibility, conditions, someone driving a motor vehicle, and having dropped the speed of their vehicle down to say 20, from the posted 40 to be able to see the road ahead by the white lines on the road, still may be at a loss to discern on the road, the presence of someone walking or biking, wearing dark clothes, using no flashlight, bike lights, or reflective material to help counter their reduced visibility to people driving.

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      El Biciclero November 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      “IMO it’s a wise decision to ‘be seen’ ”

      It’s too bad that decision can’t be made by you. It is quite literally out of your hands; it is impossible to decide to be seen. No one can see anything they are not looking at, and I cannot decide for other people what that will be. Implying that “being seen” is a decision anyone can make has the inverse implication that not being seen was also your own decision, which lets those who should be deciding to look off the hook. Furthermore, even if “being seen” was something anyone could do, it wouldn’t be enough. To stay safe, a VRU must “be seen by everyone who could kill you“. I can be seen by one driver and then get run over by the next.

      By telling me, as a VRU, that I have to “be seen”, you are saying that I must somehow exert enough control over thousands of other people such that they will all pay attention and look my way. Would that I could exercise such Trumpian influence over the masses! If I fail in influencing just one of those people, it could be curtains for me. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus the message on those thousands to “be looking” for the relatively few VRUs they will encounter? Telling folks to look for others puts them in charge of the only person they can really control: themselves.

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        q November 10, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        Good point, especially since so many drivers are talking on phones or texting. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing if people aren’t looking. When I’ve been hit in my car, the people driving into me were looking another direction. One of those times I was parked.

        Someone mentioned watercraft earlier. A couple years ago, a 40′ boat grounded itself hitting an ISLAND full speed in the Willamette. Obviously the issue wasn’t that the island wasn’t visible enough. But nobody blamed the island for not being reflective enough.

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    Doug Rosser November 8, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Were these folks out on Williams on Monday night? They were standing right at the end of a crosswalk, causing all sorts of havoc, as lots of cyclist were stopping to let them cross…

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    Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 9:18 am

    wsbob
    To me, culpability certainly does not seem to be the central area of importance whether it regards people walking, biking, or driving motor vehicles.

    It seems some people apparently misinterpret the intent of safety campaigns encouraging selective use of visibility gear by people walking and biking…coming to the conclusion that the suggestion is for people walking, biking, etc, everywhere on the road at night, regardless of lighting conditions at hand. I don’t think that’s at all the intended suggestion.
    Nor do I think the intent of such campaigns is to relieve people that drive, of their responsibility to be aware of and on the watch for vulnerable road users that for various reasons not associated with health or actions of the person driving…may be very difficult to see.

    Being reasonable will get you nowhere here.

    If you don’t think drivers should be eviscerated for hooking a ninja cyclist passing from behind on the right, you’re obviously just victim blaming.

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      Dan A November 8, 2016 at 10:15 am

      You didn’t see the cyclist when you passed them prior to reaching the intersection?

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        John Lascurettes November 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        And did you put on your blinker 100 feet before your turning action or when you had already started your turning action — like the guy who almost hooked me last did? Again, I’ve got a bright-ass front-light on and he just went for the turn with no signal, not until he was *into* the turn (and I had already braked) did he turn on his signal.

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        Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 2:53 pm

        Cars frequently don’t pass bikes before hooking them — especially downtown or during rush hour where bike lane speeds are frequently higher than lane speeds.

        Anyone who blames a crash on the presence or absence of a signal has incorrectly identified the problem. One of the first rules of driving is to never trust a signal.

        Pulling on the right side of any vehicle that might turn is asking for trouble. I see people doing it here all the time, and I see a lot of people get hooked even though this is an obvious threat that is easy to avoid.

        A good driver prevents a crash when others mess up, equipment fails, etc. Bad ones assume everything will be the way it’s supposed to be and act surprised when that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Same can be said for cyclists.

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          Dan A November 8, 2016 at 3:20 pm

          “Anyone who blames a crash on the presence or absence of a signal has incorrectly identified the problem.”

          Failure to signal is a massive problem.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 4:05 pm

            It is. And since you know that it is, you can anticipate it might happen. And then act accordingly.

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              Dan A November 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

              Instead of enforcing the law, let’s do an education campaign!

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            Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

            If it’s a massive problem, you’re not doing it right. This should be no big deal.

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              Dan A November 8, 2016 at 6:19 pm

              A study in 2012 indicated failure to signal was responsible for twice as many crashes as distracted driving, in the crashes studied. This is more than just a ‘be a better cyclist’ issue.

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                Kyle Banerjee November 10, 2016 at 11:26 am

                That may have been what triggered these incidents, but it’s not a good idea to trust signals whether you’re a driver or a cyclist.

                Yes, people should signal and are legally required to. Signaling is an important component of being predictable, and being predictable prevents crashes. That’s what good drivers and cyclists do.

                Good drivers and cyclists also do not assume others are predictable and are ready for them to do the wrong thing. Bad ones blame circumstances when things don’t go as they should.

                Just on my way in this morning, I could tell a light would turn green a couple seconds before I hit the intersection on the bike lane. But a semi was there. Even though he wasn’t signaling, I assumed he’d turn right — and the trailer would hit anyone pretty far back if that happened. I checked up so I could clear on the rear left in the event of a turn or pick up speed on the right if he went straight. He did turn, so I just swung around the rear of the truck, no harm no foul.

                Had I just continued straight on the bike path as the law allows just the way a bunch of people here advocate, I would have been in a very dangerous situation that would have required hopping up on the curb to avoid being crushed.

                Being safe requires you to presume drivers will do the dumb and irresponsible thing, not the smart thing that they should.

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          John Lascurettes November 8, 2016 at 3:48 pm

          The same rule that allows a driver to pass on the left is the same rule that allows a cyclist to pass on the right — sharing the lane. When someone sometimes I ride faster than drivers drive. Sometimes they slow down (and my danger sense goes off), but that doesn’t mean I have to also slow down unless they’re signaling a turn, they’re stopping for a pedestrian (ha!), or some other items. I DO watch for the signal and other “body language” from the car when they slow down. Last night, the driver that had slowed down suddenly turned right without any warning and I was ready for it. Had there been a bike lane there, he’s legally obligated to yield to traffic in the lane.

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            Kyle Banerjee November 8, 2016 at 5:06 pm

            Sounds like good defensive cycling to me.

            And yes, he is obligated to yield to you, but it’s a good idea to be ready just in case he doesn’t as we all know that’s not so rare.

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              John Lascurettes November 8, 2016 at 5:33 pm

              You seemed to indicate that passing on the right is “asking for trouble” when it was perfectly legal in my case, and what the driver did was illegal (no proper signal). Yes, I’m defensive (yet assertive) in my riding — but that doesn’t excuse the bad-driver behavior I experience every single day out there: turning without signaling in front of a cyclist, fully pulling through stop signs on side streets before even getting close to stopping, driving too fast for conditions or visibility and on and on.

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              Kyle Banerjee November 9, 2016 at 10:24 am

              That is exactly what I’m saying. Yes, what you were doing was perfectly legal and what he was doing is not. And no, it does not excuse any of the things you list which I also see every day.

              Being safe is all about navigating the environment we have, not the environment as it should be.

              Besides, anticipating this kind of stuff is faster as well as safer. While everyone else busy getting hooked, I’m already across the intersection with a (temporarily) full clean lane.

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    Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 9:20 am

    what annoyed me when I read their statement in my email was why they didn’t state that drivers needed to slow down in the dark, AND again slow down even more when it’s also wet, AND slow even more in dense urban areas…

    one thing known to save lives is slower speed of motor vehicles and it’s not even recommended to the general public…

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      Dan A November 8, 2016 at 10:17 am

      +1,000,000

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    James November 8, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Well the responsibility is on people to ride and walk in a safe manner, that means not wearing dark clothing and using a combo of lights and reflectors if your gonna be using multi-use paths and roadways at night. Just seems like common sense to me.

    Big fan of the reflector triangle lights up really well.

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      Spiffy November 8, 2016 at 10:01 am

      stop with the victim blaming…

      there’s nothing unsafe about walking/biking around in the dark rainy night dressed in black…

      what’s unsafe is drivers of 2 ton explosion-powered weapons not ensuring the road is clear before they proceed…

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        james November 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm

        My response had zero victim blaming, your response fails to read what I said. And to your point I agree, yeah nothing unsafe about walking in a sidewalk or crossing the street in that manner. However, riding a bicycle and wanting it to be an accepted form of transportation is, or walking/running IN the street. Which is what the PBOT campaign is about. What I don’t like or agree with ODOT’s safety message/statement following the tragic incident on the 99 (wheelchair crossing), which I don’t feel that person had to have reflectors lights and what not. BUT as a reasonable and prudent person who believes that my safety at the end of the day is ultimately my responsibility I take precautions.

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      q November 8, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      Remember that there’s a big difference between the commuter cyclist who can choose their clothing entirely based on function for commuting–and thus may choose reflective clothing–and many pedestrians.

      One pedestrian may be the commuter-fitness walker who can wear reflective athletic gear. The next may be someone in business clothes on their way to the bus, or going out to dinner. Should the symphony hand out reflective vests to patrons so they can make it safely to the bus stop or parking garage after the event?

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    Oliver November 8, 2016 at 10:25 am

    The city of Portland needs to deploy the “We’re going to cite you for failing to keep your vehicle within your lane” team.

    And the “We’re going to cite you for driving 35 mph on residential streets” team.

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      Anna G November 8, 2016 at 11:14 am

      yes ! how are drivers going to get this message ? unless there’s some sort of enforcement, or, is PDOT only stopping bikes and peds, why not stop cars as well and hand them a flyer or a reminder to turn on their lights, not speed etc. It never fails to amaze me how many motorist drive in the rain, fog and darkness with no lights, where is their reflective gear ????

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    Greg Spencer November 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Is there any evidence that these awareness campaigns do any good? Lowering traffic speeds does achieve results: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/world_report/speed_en.pdf

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      james November 8, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      I just saw Seattle lowered their speeds on certain street types based off similar info/data. Would be nice for Portland to do something similar.

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty November 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Jonathan, maybe you could help shed some light on this endless debate. Could you find out how much PBOT spends on this program, and what they think the benefit is?

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      q November 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      And if it’s not aimed only at pedestrians and cyclists, why is it named, “Be SEEN, Be Safe”, which does aim entirely at them?

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      q November 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      If you were PBOT, you wouldn’t be asking Jonathan to shed some light on this, you’d be telling yourselves that you should have made the program brighter and more reflective so he didn’t need to shed any light.

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    Mick O November 9, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Dan A
    I wonder if anyone could find one single story where the presence of someone in dark clothing caused the death of somebody else.

    Hmmm, actual ninjas?

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      Dan A November 9, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      the presence of

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        El Biciclero November 10, 2016 at 10:39 am

        OK then, Darth Vader? He can think you to death.

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    chris November 10, 2016 at 1:09 am

    So when is the last time you ran into a neon orange reflective traffic cone because you didn’t see it? I’m guessing never…

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    RowerNotBiker November 11, 2016 at 7:14 am

    I was driving after dark last night and there were 1/2 dozen pedestrians walking with completely dark clothing. Another individual was riding down the center turn lane on a bike with zero lights or reflectors.
    Anything the city (or any organization) does to promote being seen is a good thing.

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      soren November 11, 2016 at 10:23 am

      you sound anxious about the possibility of hitting one of your neighbors. well i’m pleased to inform you that there is an easy solution to your anxiety: SLOW DOWN!

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      q November 11, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Probably every cyclist already knows that riding at night–in the center turn lane or elsewhere–without a headlight or rear reflector is illegal, and people who still do it aren’t going to be changed by a PR campaign. Enforcement, yes.

      A good percentage of the population wears all dark clothing in the daytime, so if you’re seeing 1/2 dozen pedestrians doing that at night, that’s a tiny number. And he thing I like least about aiming a public safety campaign at people who wear dark clothing while walking is that it gives people the impression that it’s wrong.

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      Dan A November 11, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Don’t you know driving after dark is dangerous? You are 3 times as likely to kill a pedestrian after dark.

      (Just another way of looking at it)

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    Dan A November 11, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Slow Down, Look Around.

    I love this. Would make for a great sign campaign in my neighborhood.

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