Harry Saporta is TriMet’s safety and security executive.
Now is the time to be seen and see everyone! Darker, shorter days are here and I encourage everyone to stop and think about visibility. It’s the time of year when pedestrians and bicyclists need to “dress” to be seen, and drivers should be especially alert to seeing everyone.
Here are some tips:
- Wear reflective outerwear. Drivers can see bicyclists and pedestrians from farther away when they shine. For example, you are first visible to a driver from 500 feet away when you are wearing reflective clothing. Compare this to just 55 feet away when wearing dark colors.
- Add more shine. Wear shoes, backpacks, jackets and other clothing with reflective materials. Add reflective tape and strips to your shoes, backpack, purse, bike wheel spokes, jacket sleeves, pant legs—really, anywhere and everywhere! Reflective vests and hats are great as well.
- Use lights freely. Before sunrise and after sunset, cyclists are legally required to have a red reflector or light on the back and a white light on the front. Invest in the brightest lights you can afford. But don’t stop there: Headlights, armbands with lights, leg bands with blinking lights, small blinking lights on your coat, purse or backpack… All of these items can help you be seen whether you’re biking or walking.
- Be alert. Even if you are a sparkly beacon of light with legs, as a pedestrian, you should always use crosswalks when available and make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you. When you’re behind the wheel, be alert and practice extra caution during winter’s rain and low light.
I saw a lot of great examples of these tips last Friday at the “Be Seen Be Safe” rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square. More than 500 people participated, and considerably more were reached via media coverage. TriMet worked for months with many, many partners and volunteers to create and organize the event. Our shared value was prevention. Because safety is everyone’s job, we worked together to convey this important life-saving message.
During my more than 31 years as a safety and security professional, I have been reminded time and time again that practicing safe behavior is a shared responsibility. Whether we’re driving, walking or biking, each of us needs to do all we can to be seen and see everyone.