Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety: Don’t Be in the Dark
The “joys” of winter can be debated – are the holidays enjoyable or stressful; is snow fun or a hassle; are you a cold-weather fan or counting the days until summer? One thing that is not debatable is that days are shorter during the winter months. Shorter days mean less light conditions and pedestrians often find themselves walking in the dark. Additionally, winter weather often impacts visibility even during daylight hours. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017 seventy-five percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred in dark conditions. During the winter months (January, February, and the following December), fifty-one percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred between 6:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Even in the summer months, June through August, thirty-four percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred between 9:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. Similarly, the highest percentage of bicycle fatalities in 2018 – twenty-one percent – occurred between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
There are some simple measures that pedestrians and cyclists can employ to ensure they are visible to drivers. Following the rules of the road is important to your safety.
Tips for Pedestrians:
- Walk on sidewalk if one is available.
- If there is no sidewalk, walk facing on-coming traffic.
- Cross at crosswalks if present.
- If there is a pedestrian signal, use it correctly.
- Make eye-contact with drivers – do not assume they see you or that they will stop for you.
- Wear a reflective article of clothing.
- Carry a flashlight.
Conditions can change quickly, especially in wintertime, and what starts as a walk in bright, sunny conditions can become a walk in gray, cloudy conditions in a matter of minutes.
Cyclists must follow the rules as well. During nighttime and times of low visibility, Connecticut law requires a cyclist to use a front light visible from 500 feet, a rear reflector or light visible from 600 feet and reflective material on both sides of the bike visible from 600 feet.
Tips for Cyclists:
- Use the bike lane if one is available.
- If no bike lane exists, ride in the travel lane.
- Communicate your intended actions.
- Wear reflective article of clothing, including ankle and knee reflectors.
Additionally, drivers need to be aware that pedestrians and cyclists could be on the road at any time. Driving safely by obeying the speed limit, not being distracted and following the rules with regard to pedestrians and cyclists – such as yielding at crosswalks and allowing a minimum of 3 feet when passing a cyclist – keeps everyone safe. For more helpful tips about pedestrian and bicyclist safety, visit Watch for Me CT.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.