As both a new bike commuter and Seattle resident, I was definitely unprepared for the dramatic changes that Daylight Savings Time brings to the evening commute. Riding home last Monday, I was shocked at how the previously safe and comfortable Burke-Gilman Trail transformed into a tunnel fo darkness, leading who knows where! I tried riding on main roads to get better lighting, but then had to navigate car traffic, also a stressful experience that I didn’t enjoy.
Upon further discussion in the Cascade offices, I discovered that this was a common experience and that many fellow commuters felt similarly unsafe riding home in the winter months. Turning out the lights also makes bicycle-pedestrian safety an even larger concern; even if cyclists are well-lit on the trail, the chances of seeing pedestrians not carrying lights or wearing reflective clothing themselves are slim.
The other night a co-worker and I decided to help solve this problem by distributing lights to joggers, walkers, and dogs along the trail as we rode home. This was an incredibly rewarding experience, and all of the pedestrians we spoke with seemed really grateful both to receive a free light and to be acknowledged by bicyclists.
Since it was such a hit, we’ve decided to establish an official Light Giveaway for Pedestrians this upcoming Monday, Nov. 14. A group of Cascade staff will be stationed along the Burke-Gilman Trail (at the intersection with 65th St near Magnuson Park) from 4:30-6 p.m. to hand out free lights and promote bike-pedestrian safety in these darker months. If you run or walk along the trail regularly after dark and don’t have a good light (or know someone who fits that description) please come by and see us!
And for all my cycling cohorts, please remember to use lights yourself, slow down in the darker hours, and keep your eyes out for pedestrians. After all, Seattle’s multi-use trails are designed for exactly what the name implies — all types of users!