Columns Dec 12, 2012 at 4:00 am

Don't Make Me Kill You


good one.

i'm sick of runners, cyclists, and pedestrians
We call them Ninjas
What's is it with Fremont joggers? Nearly ran over one when I was going through a green light: he didn't break stride as I freaked out and steered while standing on the brake pedal and luckily avoided hitting him. He didn't even pause to look over his shoulder, glare at me, and flip me the bird. My wife wanted me to turn around and run him over, but I was too shook up to be angry.
Thank you, I, Anon! Seriously---do runners wearing dark clothing and not even carrying a flashlight after sundown actually WANT to get hit? Attention Ninja joggers---running you over because I didn't see you, even if you're suicidal and don't care---WOULDN'T "make my day"!
Stay visible!
Many joggers that run at night are smug assholes - I should know - I used to be one of them. But then I discovered the joys of smoking, drinking and fornicating and my quality of life, to the delight of those around me, has improved immensely.
Yeah, God forbid anyone have to keep eyes open for joggers or pedestrians or anything. You might as well just cut your testicles right off. NEWS FLASH: USING YOUR FEET IS FOR PUSSIES. If people on foot don't want to die, they should use a gas guzzling CO2 spewer like normal people do.
People need to share the road. To me this includes both drivers - who need to be aware/not texting and traveling at a safe speed - AND runners/cyclists/skaters/etc - who also need to be aware and ensure that they are visible to drivers, especially at night. It seems like common sense but apparently it is not. I live in the country. It's absolutely pitch black out there, no street lights, yet I have a neighbor who insists on going running at night in black and dark clothing. Now that I know his routine I know to always be on the lookout for him, but damn the first time I came upon him right around the curve I about had a heart attack and drove in the ditch even though I was doing the speed limit. Regardless of who you are, do your part.
@3, We call them "darktards".

@7, Uuuh, way to misinterpret the issue.
Anyone who isn't inside a car when on a street needs to make sure that the people who ARE in the cars can see them.
This applies to motorcycles, bicyclists, joggers and walkers.
Just because you can see the car does not mean that the driver can see you.
A carjacking seems to be in order.
I do not want to kill you, however! There is such an aura of entitlement fatally surrounding Seattle pedestrians. You think we can see you, if your attention span is even that honed, but we cannot. You do NOT look up as you step off the curb. You do NOT realize that when you do cross the street - oncoming traffic from both directions renders you invisible. I don't understand why so many pedestrians have an unstated death wish, but you do. You text, you look down, you do not honor the dictum: STOP, LOOK & LISTEN!. When you are dead, you will no longer be entitled. Why does that reality never creep into your mind?
@2: No you're not.

@7: Trollin it up bigtime.
Seriously, this. I am both a pedestrian and someone who drives. One rainy night I almost hit two pedestrians while driving. Both were wearing black and grey clothing and both walked AGAINST the light. One of them was apologetic but the other one had the audacity to bang on my car screaming FUCK YOU at me and actually try to open my locked door to try and fight me. Pedestrians, you need to be careful too!
Totally depends on the situation -- was the jogger at a crosswalk, was he/she breaking any laws? The author says "I run along the BG trail too." Where was the pedestrian, and where was the vehicle?

In practical terms, the onus is on the pedestrian or cyclist to pretend they are invisible.

In moral and legal terms, the onus is on the driver because they are the ones operating heavy machinery and imposing risk on others. If a black-clad runner jaywalks across a busy street then you're not at fault, but if you hit one in a crosswalk while turning right then it is your fault -- even if you "didn't see them". Driving through a crosswalk? YOU need to look. If you can't tell whether there is anybody there, slow down and look harder.
Yeah, I've almost taken out a couple black shrouded jaywalkers sauntering across Hwy 99 in Federal Way like they were taking a stroll in the park.

(Yes, we do have paved roads in South County, deal with it)
Note to invisible joggers: It's in your power to be seen. Choose to use that power. Or choose to be smug in your hospital bed.
When I am on the Street, I never, even for a second, trust that cars will be watching for me or my safety. No one should be that stupid.
Yes, we can hope that people will "do the right thing and share the road" but you have to do your part to make sure you're safe and visible.
Cars turn on their lights, pedestrians and cyclists put reflective clothing or lights, and everyone always pays attention to the road and not to their damn phone.
Be logical, be safe, and stay alive.
Absolutely right on. I'm almost afraid to drive at night any more because so many unthinking pedestrians, bicyclists, scooterists (is that a word? I don't think so but what the heck), etc. think they can ramble all over the roads in dark clothing with no reflective bits or flashlight or light-colored anything to make them stand out. It's especially bad in rainy weather, when the reflection of the headlights dances the shadows around and makes things look like they're moving that aren't, and vice versa. I've had some really frightening near-misses and I'm not a fast or careless driver. Folks out there need to be aware that conditions inside a vehicle with dashlights and headlights creating blind spots are very, very different from what you think you perceive as you wander fecklessly along.
Ditto people who strip all the reflectors off their bicycles, don't have lights, and then bike around in the dark in black clothing, completely invisible to everyone. Like smokers, I guess they must have a death wish.
@7 Troll harder, n00b.
Joggers, cyclists, et al: Yes, car lights are shiny bright, and you feel that they are all-knowing & omniscient. You were walking/riding along in peaceful darkness & now they've broken that. They must see everything! They must be able to see your underwear! They must be able to see into your very soul!

Umm... No. That bright aura surrounding you that you think can be seen for miles is actually your ego, and it only appears in the mirror. Anyone who has driven at night understands, even w/ street lights, pedestrians are difficult to spot, unless they're wearing reflective clothing or carrying a flashlight. Geez, even one of those tiny lights you can get at the hard ware store for a few bucks would help.

Take some responsibility, hey?
As a pedestrian who has almost been hit, AMEN! I learned very quickly after moving here that black coat + black umbrella + poorly-lit intersections = recipe for getting run over. Not to say that there aren't a lot of clueless drivers paying more attention to their phones than the road, but you can't fix stupid. We can argue ourselves blue in the face about what "needs to be done" to ensure the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists, but in the meantime, I'm going to make myself as visible as possible.
But how does this relate to Ziffy's sense of his own total failure as a man?

Don't worry, he'll tell us soon enough.
What @9 said.
You know, "I had the right of way" isn't going to be much comfort when it's your fucking epitaph.
Great I, Anon! Peds & joggers- be seen, and thanks for helping drivers not run you down. None of us want to hit you...seriously. Ruins an otherwise nice day.
Yes, joggers should act as if cars are deadly machines out to kill them. But what a sad world we've created where that's necessary.

Imagine living in a city where streets are designed for city-scale travel, not little freeways trying to get you to the big freeway. Cars going 15-20mph can stop quickly, and even if not can strongly reduce deaths. Cars going 40 kill.

Is human life really lower on the priority list than getting to the mall quickly?
Almost been hit after 4 pm in last couple weeks at the same corner just walking down to Broadway (10th and Aloha corner). I use an unused bicycle reflector and attach it to my backpack. Even when the white man signal says it's okay to walk, I make sure the people in the stopped cars notice me by waving my arms widly, and peering through their car windows to notice me. Still, this, only sometimes works.
@28: A car going that slow would take more than an hour to drive from the southern limits of Seattle to the northern limits along city streets. It's village-scale travel, not city-scale travel.

The problem here is cyclists and pedestrians who are so profoundly ignorant of basic physics that they do not understand that they can see a car's headlights at a distance many times larger than the distance at which the driver can see the headlights off of them.

Why should I have to sacrifice hours of my life traveling absurdly slowly in order to enable you to be a moron?
As a runner, you're an idiot for running at night without a reflective vest, headlamp/flashlight, and a tail light as well. People need to see you. And you need to be able to see that huge pothole you're about to step in.
@29 As someone who commutes by foot to and from downtown, the number of drivers who don't notice pedestrians in crosswalks is staggering.
Run, for chrissakes. Run, ride a bike, ride a skate board.

but wear white clothes while doing it after dark.

Drivers really don't want to kill you, but if you are wearing black, have no lights or flashing warning or some reflective material, we might have to live with accidently killing you for the rest of our lives. as will your friends and family, all because you are too stupid to realize night-time activities near streets with cars warrant white or reflective clothes.

Hipsters dressed all in black are not cool when squished out all over Westlake/Nickerson.
Invisible pedestrians who jaywalk their way under car tires should be sued. They - or their estate - should be sued for the damage to the vehicle and the emotional damage they inflicted on the driver by involving an innocent bystander in their suicide.
I am glad to know I am not the only one who has a hard time spotting people who are clad all in black, brown or navy at night in unlit areas. I myself wear a reflective vest and carry a flashlight at night, and do not sprint across streets when oncoming traffic approaches, but now determine I have a different sense of risk assessment from others.

What is even better is knowing that other people have problems seeing people who choose not to make themselves visible.

Next thing I know I will be reading how Seattleites are suddenly discovering that drivers who choose not to turn their lights on at night are less visible, or motorcyclists who wear all black with no reflective material whatsoever are more at risk at night.

I will from now on expect that if I have access to reflective material and a flashlight, practically everybody else does too, and if they don't choose to make themselves safer by improving their visibility they cheerfully accept risk and consequences.
#28 is one of the car-hating radicals at the Seattle Transit Blog.

Even just the actual in-city speed limit of 30 mph massively reduces pedestrian fatalities. At 30 mph, a pedestrian's risk of fatality is 45 percent. At 40 mph, it's 85 percent. But, then, most drivers do not abide by the posted speed limit.


Most places where pedestrians are likely to just walk out into traffic are areas that have high pedestrian activity, such as downtown and in pseudo-suburbs like Fremont. It would not be an unbearable hardship to ask drivers to go 20 mph on side streets and 30 mph on arterials. You'll still be able to drive 40+ on highways.

I've been driving in this city going on three years, and I can count on one hand the times I legitimately didn't "see" a pedestrian, and even then most of those times I wasn't doing my due diligence of stopping behind the stop sign and checking for pedestrians before I started moving forward. Driving safely is not difficult.
When I cycle while it's dark out, I wear a jacket/pants combo with a total of 5 reflective stripes (one across my back and one on each limb), a pannier with reflective markings, reflectors on both wheels, a white reflector and white light on my handlebar, a red reflector on my seat post and a red light on the back of my rack. My pants are black other than the reflective stripes, but my jacket is bright red. I bicycle on the street, on a route commonly used by cyclists that has bike lanes or sharrows almost the whole way, and I still have trouble almost every time I commute with cars that "don't see me". I don't buy it. Sure, there are many pedestrians and cyclists that could/should be wearing things that make them easier to spy in the dark. There are even more drivers that don't see us because THEY'RE NOT LOOKING.
@38 Thanks for the reminder! Most cars that I have a problem with are also speeding.
Where I live, (on the other side of the world) there are policies that prohibit the design of streets that don't have sidewalks & cycle paths in new neighborhoods. Only major arterials get to be sidewalk free.

If the issue of cars nearly hitting runners at night is a common problem in Fremont, then Fremont needs a road makeover so runners don't have to run on the road.

@26 haahaahahaa!!!
Are these runners running on the road? are there no sidewalks?

Where I live, you're not allowed to design neighbourhoods with no sidewalks and cycle paths. Sounds like Fremont needs a retrofit.

@26 haahaaaahaa!
Ha Ha, ask the fool who did the same shit to me what happened after he hit the top of my car, leaving a dent!

Turns out the SPD does more than beat people up, how did you enjoy paying the $1100 to fix it?
@30 No it doesn't. It takes all of 5 minutes to drive to the freeway from the south-east corner, and all of 10 minutes to drive from the freeway to the north-west corner. There is nowhere in Seattle it takes that long to drive.

You're in a city that was build at a time when cars didn't exist, and we got along just fine back then. Cars are a nice convenience, not a license to kill.
Peds and cyclists should always venture out with the assumption that there is a big-ass reward waiting for a lucky driver in a murdermobile, to be awarded on running you down.

Act accordingly.
Nighttime pedestrians without reflective material or lights are like nighttime drivers with their lights off: You might have right-of-way. You might be using less fuel than I am. You might be more conscientious than I am in any number of ways. It simply doesn't matter.

It will still be your fault when we have a collision, because you have made yourself invisible. Not just "slightly less obvious," but downright difficult to see in time at all.

Hell, at least a car with its lights off has built-in reflectors. You are a small object with nothing helping you stand out in the glare-and-darkness contrast that nighttime drivers are trying to see through.

Although it's all moot because this I,Anon was obviously written by a viscious, man-hating lesbian Seattle DYKE who just wants an excuse to hit MALE pedestrians with her estrogen-fueled ball-cutting she-car!!!!!!!!!!!11!1
what is with people here in their Goth gear and ninja suits constantly strolling into roadways,and pathways everywhere, in this arrogant manner without even looking around themselves?? they are far too smug with the assumption everyone else should use radar to warn of their stealth dumbass erratic approach...

ANd then there's the idiots seen nightly all over town in pitch dark, driving obliviously with no headlights, on and on for blocks and miles apparently. WTF news flash: you are all too lightless/clueless/blind/STOOpid to drive a car at all- ever!!

Is Seattle holding a competition for the most Darwin Awards per capita or what??
@39 I think I've seen you or one of your ilk at least. I've always kind of wanted to roll down my window and say "thank you" for being visible. But, I always felt like that would be seen as being cynical or sarcastic. I at least try to show my thanks by giving you room and not hitting you.
@32: Having walked my share of miles around the city, I'm pretty sure those drivers just plain don't care that somebody happens to be in the crosswalk. They have places to be, dammit!
#44/28 is an anti-car radical at the Seattle Transit Blog. They want a 15 mph speed limit on all city streets, and want to end highway maintenance.
P.S. from the Obvious yet GLaring Omissions Dept.:
Next time you are out running, biking, skating, just take a breather off the road, near an arterial or major intersection; sit there for 5 minutes and just count the number of drivers on cellphones who wizz by without even seeing you(or seeing any other people ,cars, buses, or speeding freight trains around them either). Now calculate the percentage of the total behind the wheel who are on phones, texting, watching gOOgTube- the % is really fuckin dangerously high, isn't it? "Driving on the cell phone fine laws- what me worry ?" is their motto.

This little random sample exercise should destroy any faith you may have had in the competence and awareness of drivers in general.

BTW it's a lot more fun if you can get a big old rack of bull moose antlers on a pole to pop up over the hedges, so some of these phoney fuckers will wake up to the terror of an imminent collision with Bullwinkle...
As a motorist, I am super vigilant for pedestrians. Yeah, they're dumb and look at phones and wear dark clothing. So what? It is my responsibility to be careful. After all, I could have taken the bus but chose to drive. Plus, I'm using more carbon.

Most of the time, I'm a pedestrian. I try to be careful then too, partly because I am a motorist sometimes. The biggest issue I encounter is people who do "rolling stops" through cross-walks. You know, the place where I'm supposed to be crossing. I do try to make eye contact with the driver to make sure they can see me.

Eye-contact. Make it with the pedestrians in your vicinity, and make it with the driver who might run you down. If you can't see each other, you're both fucked.
52: I'm also a pedestrian more than I am a driver, and I'm also very careful around pedestrians: giving them plenty of birth-room (if I can do so without colliding with another car; otherwise I slow down), stopping at all intersections, taking consistent care to be alert for them, etc.

None of that makes it safe for them to wear dark, unreflective clothing if they're walking around at night as I'm driving. Being visible is important no matter how careful a driver is being. If you wear reflective gear, only incompetent assholes might hit you. If you don't, EVERYONE might hit you.

That's why I always wear reflective gear on my pre-dawn jogs. It's their responsibility to be careful near me, but it's my responsibility to make it possible for them to know that they are, in fact, near me.
I once almost hot a bicyclist at night in the rain, at first i apologized, Then i realized he was wearing all black, on a fixed gear bike that was also black, with no lights and no reflectors, he had even taken the reflectors off the pedals...
Just wait until one of Paul Allen's streetcars mows down a pedestrian dressed in black. "Stay the fuck out of the way," #44/28 will say. "That's transit, and no one fucks with transit and lives to tell about it!"
#51, speaking of texting, how 'bout Brian Fairbrother, the barista cyclist who was so engrossed in texting while riding that he didn't notice the flight of stairs in front of him?
If its a legitimate crosswalk the black clothes will prevent the person from dying.
green lake way, northbound, night, the light is green for me. daddy and his little girl on bikes jump out across the roadway right under the green light (iow "red" to them) instead of waiting then make faces when I shake my finger at them. yes, some cyclists violate right of way laws.

sometimes a pedestrian should just slow up for half a step and let the car go by instead of "enforcing" the pedestrian right of way when the car is so close it must stand on the brakes. often peds make cars stop when with no loss of time, really, the ped could just wait for the gap and let the one or two cars go by.

seattle is oddly dark for a big city, perhaps due to clouds, the rain, something about the leaves blocking most of the streetlights or the lack of true urban lighted up ness all over. it's fucking dark. peds who are in black or the normal seattle garb of slug brown pants combined with washed out chimney sweep grey pants and their nose stuck in the phone are nearly invisible, and should not dress or act that way but try to get along. (note tohaters: bad drivers, ditto, try to get along, every body get off your moral high horse, so seattle, and just figure it out, it starts with giving a bit on all sides).
Running on the road in the dark with no lights is an idiot move. But a friendly reminder: if you are driving in such a way that you might well fail to see, and then hit and kill, an idiot, you need to slow down until you can see an adequate distance in front of you. I'm glad you missed this guy. I'm not always the picture of road safety, either, but trust me, either one of us would feel like shit if we can someone over. Even an idiot.
@26: Good one!
Enough with the pedestrians vs. drivers. All pedestrians at at risk of getting hit by a car, not just joggers. It's unrealistic for all pedestrians to wear bright colors and reflective lights all the time. It's also unrealistic for every driver to be aware of every pedestrian all the time. Instead of fighting about who is at fault, we should put pressure on the City of Seattle to modify our roadways to promote pedestrian safety (better lighting, bright signage, flashing lights, all pedestrian walk intersections, etc).

Here lies the body of William Jay,
Who died maintaining his 'right-of-way".
He was right, dead right, all along..
But he's JUST AS DEAD as if he'd been WRONG.
Of pedestrians VS drivers VS cyclists in Seattle, who wins the self-entitled douche-bag award? Gotta give it to the cyclists. The cyclists.
I can see that #26 and others are too young to remember the "Dead Right" commercials. They were about defensive driving, but they apply equally to bicyclists and pedestrians. Punch line: "This one was in the right. Dead right."…
it's possible to get fined by the police in my country if they see you moving about with no safety reflector during the darker time of the year. whether it's a pitch black country road or a city street moderatly to very well lit it doesn't matter.
I fucking HAAAATE runners and bicyclists going along the road like ninja assassins dressed in black, expecting cars to see them. There's no excuse for making people who are just trying to get home responsible for your life.

I'm a runner, and I either run in daylight OR I strap up with neon clothing, reflective shit everywhere, flashing disco ball lights and a damn circus marching band if need be.
Here in polar land, advertisments go up every year in October stating a very simple and important statistic:
If you wear a reflector, a car travelling at 50mph has about 10 seconds to react to you.
If you do not, the same car has about 2 seconds.

Knowing is half the battle.
A lot of joggers are like many of Seattle's bike riders: They refuse to accept responsibility for their part in sharing the road. It's like these people who cross the street without looking - They will tell you "Hit me, I'll sue you". Sure, and hope that money helps you enjoy the rest of your life as a paraplegic...

@24 –Dr. Dope, sad, just very sad. You were abused in school because of your uncontrollable flatulence, weren’t you?

Last Saturday, I attended the funeral of a friend who was struck and killed while walking. The driver couldn't see him and was not at fault.

WEAR REFLECTIVE MATERIAL ON YOUR PERSON. Your hat/shoes/bag/jacket anything. If you are a night runner wear it everywhere.

Standing behind a mother whose child's casket is being lowered into the ground was heartbreaking.

People who bike / jog in the dark without lights / reflectors and move as if they own the roadway = organ donors
best i anon ever... i'm a runner and a cyclist, and in the winter i bling myself with enough reflective gear to consider myself a human christmas tree.
i cringe when i see anyone biking or running without reflective gear, and hope they make it to their destination safely.
additionally, as a non-car owner for over 23 years, i have moments where the autocentric mentality can be exhausting when not "seen" -- but, it takes TWO to tango and everyone has their own responsibilities to keep an eye out for the other person.
@69 Your comment prompted me to buy a bright yellow highly reflective backpack cover immediately. I will use it.
@69: That really is sad. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, especially in a situation like that. How heartbreaking. My prayers to you, and to all concerned.

I'm grateful to have my pocket flashlight with me particularly during this time of year, and when I'm not driving. A lot of bus drivers (this is outside of Seattle) thank me and tell me all the time that if they didn't see my light, they'd have driven right past the bus stop.
At least only a few bikers prefer to ride on the narrow dark shoulder-less blind curve of the street NEXT TO the bike trail. But by law, you are required to stop and look for pedestrians before turning into or crossing intersections, unless you have a green light forward or a green turn light. A green circle does NOT give you the right-of-way to turn & cut cars or pedestrians off.

When walking to the bus stop or their office, most people do not feel compelled to wear flashing lights with their suit. But a wet 'bright orange reflective' safety vest can ALSO be completely invisible at night. Scary but true.

People in Seattle often jaywalk in front of ambulances. People in Seattle often stop in the middle of the road to watch fire engines. People in Seattle often wear dark colors. People in Seattle often drive with their headlights off at night. People in Seattle often buy high-lumen flashlights (the type used by law enforcement to visually stun people) and strap them onto their helmets. People in Seattle often drive downtown with their high-beams on. People in Seattle are not too bright. Watch out for all of them.
@74 Izzy: As a native Seattleite who obeys traffic laws, watches carefully for pedestrians, bikers, and for careless and / or easily distracted drivers, I was taken aback by your general statement. Not everybody within any one group of people thinks or acts the same way.
But I do agree with you on one point: watch carefully for everyone, and don't just assume the right-of-way, although that's more easily said than done.

Everybody---be safe, happy, healthy, and sane, and happy holidays!
Natural Selection usually catches up to dipshits, like this runner.
@74: I guess I just don't see the jaywalkers as often as you, and I've never once seen a pedestrian stop in the middle of the road to watch fire trucks.

Oh wait, you're not from around here, are you?
@61: Why is it totally unfeasible to expect people to spend twenty bucks in their own self-defense, but it's totally reasonable to expect the city to spend tens of millions installing and powering more street lights?

There will never be enough street light, by the way, to help light up someone who is not wearing reflective clothing. First, there will always be one more intersection, one more spot with an inconvenient shadow. Reflective tape, on the other hand, follows you around. Second, you still have to be at much closer range in order to resolve that nonreflective silhouette as a pedestrian, but reflective bits call attention to themselves from 10 times as far away.

It's the same reason that cars have tail lights: so they can be seen from far off. Likewise why they require a certain minimum number of reflectors on a bike: so they can be seen from far off. Hell, it's the same reason STREET SIGNS are reflective. But somehow walkers expect to just be seen, without any effort at making themselves visible. Idiots.
@39: I agree that the drivers need to take responsibility for their own part of the problem. (For starters, put down the damned phone and put your entire attention on driving the fucking car, dammit. You're piloting a deadly weapon.)

But starting at twilight, a grey coat might as well be an Invisibility Cloak.
@77 suddenlyorcas: I'm glad you caught that, too!
I yell fuck you and bang on the hood too, in hopes you remember that real people live outside your metal deathbox, and possibly you don't run over some child or other runner on other dark night. Remember my fuck you.
@81 yadrick: Responses like yours are why I'm so glad I DON'T drive through Seattle anymore! There are city streets with traffic lights, signs,
etc., already! Seattle is not the Gaza Strip! As for your opinion that a car is a "metal deathbox", that solely depends on who is driving!

If you want my respect as a driver, then show me some, too, as a pedestrian. Don't deliberately shuffle along in a green light, holding up traffic like you own the street! And yelling "fuck you!" while banging on the hood of my or anyone else's car is only instigating road rage. Grow up already, or just stay home.
I think everyone needs to share the road. It is stupid to call cyclists or motorists or pedestrians more this adjective or that insult more than the other. Why don't we just all watch out for each other a little more and stop swearing. Be safe.

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