This Blog Post was co-authored by my fellow AmeriCorps member, Mary Collins
As you may have noticed, our blog has been heavily populated with ponderings on the now-dark homeward-bound commute.
We’ve been thinking a lot about cyclist safety and also pedestrian visibility in the dark winter months. Last week, three of Cascade’s AmeriCorps members (myself included) spent time handing out free blinky lights to pedestians walking, jogging, and generally frolicking along the Burke Gilman Trail-ok, it was a little chilly so unfortunately there was minimal frolicking. Overall, despite the brisk temperatures, this was a great event for Cascade and brought to light (pun intended!) the issue of bike-pedestrian trail sharing and safety, especially after sundown. We talked to a number of pedestrians and cyclists who expressed enthusiasm for increasing their own visibility as well as gratitude for efforts to up the wattage of trail users across the board!
Some important lessons learned included:
- There are way more people walking at night than you might expect! We gave lights away at the intersection of 65th and the Burke Gilman, and were really surprised about the amount of trail traffic which passed through in just 90 minutes, especially on a November evening!
- Pets need to be just as visible as their owners! There are definitely some creative solutions to light up your pet, and judging by the number of dogs who passed by without lights, this is an element of night strolling which has slipped through the cracks.
- People are incredibly grateful for anything free, even if it’s just a little blinky light. We had a number of conversations with people about how to support Cascade, donations often inspired by just the simple act of promoting trail safety.
Thus, it seems that although our goal last Monday was simply to increase awareness and address the problem of pedestrian visibility along the Burke, it turned out to be an experience about much more than just simple solutions. Though we were handing out lights, we were handed back smiles, gratitude, and appreciation-in the end, were the true recipients of a free gift!