Early sunset puts pedestrians at risk

See what officials are doing to help those walking be safer, now that twilight arrives in outer East Portland during mid-afternoon …

PBOT Outreach staffer Sharon White and bike activist Duane Wong arrive in East Portland, ready to help pedestrians and bike riders “Be Seen – Be Safe”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

With the end of Daylight Savings Time on November 6, and with the sun setting before 5:00 p.m., the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PDOT) is urging both drivers and pedestrians to be careful.

“We’re calling the campaign, ‘Be Seen. Be Safe’,” explained PBOT Public Information Officer Dylan Rivera.

“It’s an effort in which we’re sending out volunteers and staff to busy intersections, high crash corridor roadways, and other key locations, handing out safety lights and reflective stickers – while encouraging Portland’s more vulnerable road users to ‘brighten up’ their attire, during the darker fall and winter months,” Rivera explained.

This couple welcomes the small flashing lights that are intended to help keep them safe when they cross major streets, such as SE Foster Road, in the dark.

PBOT’s Sharon White came to the intersection of SE 80th Avenue and Foster Road on November 7, with bags full of reflectors and LED “blinky lights” in tow. This section of Foster has been the scene of several tragic vehicle/pedestrian accidents over the years.

People walking and biking can increase their visibility during low-light hours by wearing reflective gear and using safety lights, White commented.

“Did you know that you’re first visible to people driving from 500 feet away when you’re wearing reflective clothing? Compare that to just 55 feet away, when wearing dark colors with no reflective gear or lights,” said White.

This pedestrian says he’s grateful for the blinking light and reflective stickers.

Drivers need to take note, Rivera said, and 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; and,
  • Don’t touch your phone, eat, drink, or do other things that are distracting.


“It’s time to step up your visibility, and make sure you’re doing your part to travel with care,” Rivera advised.

© 2016 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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