Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Training Drivers with Light

I walk a lot.

A minimum of 3 miles a day, but sometimes as much as 5.  Depends on my mood, the weather, and time of day.

If you have a "herding dog" or a "stock dog" and live in a city, you're going to walk them.   If you don't you're going to have a problem child driving you crazy.  Trust me, walk your dog.  You'll get a lot out of it, and so will the dog.

It's one of the reasons I'm in the shape I am.

There is a rub here.  South Florida doesn't believe in Sidewalks.

That took an adjustment, moving from Philadelphia area where not having a sidewalk in front of the house was an exception.  A rare exception in fact.

Wilton Manors and most of the older areas "East of 95" in Broward County tend not to have sidewalks.  The result is that you're walking in the street or on the first six feet of the property.  That's called the Swale here, basically you're maintaining the area and it's semi-public access.

The problem is not the lack of sidewalks.  The problem is that if you're in a car you are speeding.  Ok, not a complete fact.  My little-old-lady neighbor drives her pickup truck very slowly around town, but she's the exception and not the rule.

Most of you people on your way from Point A to Point B are speeding.  Yes, Five Over is speeding.  If the sign says 25 and you're doing 26, you're speeding.

So people from Up North come down here and are flying all over our streets with people walking on the edge of them with their dogs that are no longer bored and are basically acting clueless.

That's where the lights come in.

Walking the dog means you sometimes have to "Pick Things Up" and since I have yet to be in a neighborhood that has appropriate levels of lighting on the streets, you need a flashlight.

Over the years, a flashlight went from being a joke to something quite useful.  With LED lighting, they can be so bright that you get the typical warnings.  "Do Not Shine Light Into Eyes".

You know, Do Not Taunt Happy Fun Ball?

So I'm out there with my LED Flashlight.  One of those "Do Not Taunt" kind of lights.  The penlights went from being a candle to being a 25 watt light bulb focused to a point.

Mine is a 1200 lumen monster that runs on a laptop battery cell.  That's basically a 75 watt light bulb in my hand.  I can light up a parking lot with no trouble on that walk that is frequently more than an hour before sunrise at the push of an orange button.

We're walking a boisterous Mc Nab Dog puppy bouncing around who is mostly black with a white collar, "Shepard's light" and blaze down his nose.  A car approaches and I shine the equivalent of a reading light on a dark dog in the middle of a dark block.

...and the Skies open with the Choir Eternal...

Cars shift lanes or stop and wait.  They avoid us because they can't understand where all that light is coming from that is shining on the pavement.

A glowing dog in the middle of the dark, a right leg with a sneaker glowing, and a large pool of brilliant white light.

Yep.  That will do it.

Much easier than jumping off the pavement into a yard that has been indifferently maintained, shining a flashlight and turning your feet into a beacon by a small handheld appliance is an interesting way to help  people maintain traffic laws.

We got started doing this because there are too many speeding and DUI cases around this area.  They leave the bars and fly through the neighborhood seemingly aiming at you with their 2 ton metal beasts wondering "How Many Points is a Dog Walker Worth These Days".

A 75 watt light bulb will sober them up fairly quickly.  Technology to the rescue.

Lately, a lot of bicycle riders are taking this technology to heart.  I've seen people riding around with simple "blinky" lights on their bikes.  That's sufficient to adhere to the law of "bikes must be lit at night".  On the other hand, folks are getting quite creative.  Take a strip of LEDs from your holiday lights and wrap your bike's frame in them and you're all the sudden very visible.  It's entertaining seeing a bike moving around at 10PM in the dark glowing in four colors and blinking in time to an unheard beat.

You do certainly see them when they come near and that is the purpose of all that light.  To train the drivers to slow down and take notice.

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