It’s that time of year when rainy weather and shorter, darker days are once again upon us. Bicyclists and pedestrians need to exercise extra caution and awareness when commuting to and from work.
Whether you’re walking or riding, it helps to know your route instead of trying to navigate on the fly. This allows you to concentrate on your surroundings and instead of looking for your next turn. SDOT maintains an excellent bike map that is updated annually, and can be used by bicyclists and pedestrians to map an effective route.
If you want to start walking or riding to work, make a couple of trial runs during daylight hours on a weekend. Or better yet, get a bicycle or walking buddy – someone who already bikes or walks to work – who can help you with suggestions for clothing or bike gear for those first few trips.
Visibility is the key – wearing bright and reflective clothing is important. Bicyclists should have flashing red tail lights and a steady white light or reflector, in front. It’s also important to be predictable and clear to others on the road of your intended path. If you’re on foot, make it clear to on-coming traffic that you’re about to step off the curb. When riding a bicycle, remember to use hand signals for all turns, stops and lane changes.
Seeing other people and objects in low-light conditions is difficult for everyone. Those who drive need to be able to perceive what they are seeing and recognize the importance of a pedestrian or bicycle rider to take necessary evasive action. Bicyclists should obey all traffic laws, and never assume the right of way.
Distractions such as electronic devices should never be used while driving or riding – in Seattle, we’ve seen a nearly 300% increase in collisions involving inattention over the last 3 years.
Remember, we are sharing the road with an increasing number of commuters, employing diverse modes of travel. Let’s look out for each other.