Let’s get it right – highlight yourself at night!


Source: gccfla.org

You would think this would be an obvious safety concern to those involved, but lately it has been quite surprising and dismaying to see so many pedestrians and cyclists walking/pedaling at night in dark/non-reflective clothing. Not only is it harder to see them in dressed in this manner, but add in the dulling of motor vehicle headlights by road salt, less hours of daylight, unlit streets and roadways, and the narrowing of road shoulders due plowed snow and you have a dangerous combination of factors that must be addressed before a tragedy occurs.

The number of people walking/pedaling the roadways here in the Traverse City area in dark gear has been significant enough for both my wife and I to wonder if local communities should consider adopting laws which require the wearing of bright clothing or reflective gear. Public safety officers would be able to ticket those who don’t oblige without good reason. Granted, you can’t fix stupid, but for the sake of the rest of us, perhaps such laws would at least be a step in the right direction and may wake those up who are not thinking through the potential dangers of their choices.

Public safety campaigns via the media, hospitals, law enforcement, schools, community groups, and walking/biking advocacy groups would be another way of spreading the word – one which should be painfully obvious already.

Lastly, for those among us who unfortunately cannot afford to buy bright outerwear or reflective gear, donations of money or clothing to homeless shelters, school,s and community groups would be a great way to reach those most in need of assistance. A little bit can go a long way when parlayed with the gifts from others in the community.

Any other ideas beyond those listed above would be most welcome. Please pass them along.

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2 Responses to Let’s get it right – highlight yourself at night!

  1. John Harland says:

    Forcing people to do something should be the last resort in a democracy.

    It is not really practical to write this without risk of hurting feelings but the intent is not malicious so I hope you can bear with me on it.

    I am glad to see recognition of the challenge of economics but making free citizens feel like beggars does not address the problem of affordability. If help is offered, it should not be means-tested as we say it here. A person should not have to prove disadvantage to access the help.

    Where I would start, I think, is in reflecting on the circumstance where it is commonly the comfortable in their cars who are suggesting how those without cars should do their utmost avoid being hit when the overwhelming responsibility is for those in the comfort of their cars to ensure that they can see, and can avoid, other people behaving normally.

    Should we compel drivers to ensure that their lamps are functioning as near to perfectly as possible, and that they are using the most effective technologies to keep their windscreens clear, inside and out? Also, that if they have any kind of limitations to vision that they do not drive at all at night or in icy conditions? Notionally we do, but enforcement is sometimes lax.

    The business of being conspicuous is behavioural and interactive, not simply of putting on particularly clothes or using powerful lights. An elitist mindset in so many groups advising on safety has them convinced that “ordinary people” can only understand the most simplistic of directions, not principles or any kind of optimum. Perhaps some of those disapproving see things that simplistically themselves, which is why mandation of simple behaviours seems to address complex issues.

    Sometimes it seems that even many of us who ride or walk believe that it is unreasonable to expect motorists to hold full responsibility for the safety of their actions. We scream when drivers get only a risible fine for killing a cyclist but perhaps we have a lesser level of the same elitist attitude ourselves.

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    • problogic says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, John. I agree with you that help should not be means-tested, as I would rather have people properly attired. I was throwing out ideas for readers to mull over and chew on for a bit. I also agree that this issue is akin to autos without working headlights, but the consequences of not being visible as a pedestrian or cyclists is far more dire.

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