In the ditch with the dog

I would like to express my deep concern and frustration with certain drivers using West Beach Road in Oak Harbor. The tipping point happened on Friday, when I literally faced headlights of cars swerving over the shoulder.

As a regular walker, runner and biker on West Beach Road, I have gained important experience in terms of how to behave on this road. Safety precautions, especially during the dark winter months, are met from my side. I have even earned humorous comments upon the acquisition of a neon hat and a vest with reflective strips for myself, and a reflective collar for my dog. (You must be seen!)

In addition, the dog has a blinking light on his collar and I always carry a flashlight. We must look quite striking.

Although this may sound like an entire uniform to put on when going out to walk the dog, even this has proven to be inadequate. Last Friday, near the Even Down neighborhood, I suddenly faced headlights coming straight towards me. I literally pushed the dog into a ditch and found some room for myself in a safe spot. I am already used to some drivers not turning down the high beams when they come towards us (hey, we are just pedestrians after all) or driving directly on the white line, but driving on the shoulder was a real test for my attentiveness.

Earlier that same day, I faced a similar situation while running on the same road. Huffing and puffing up the hill of West Beach Road, exhausted but always aware of oncoming traffic, I was caught in the headlights of an oncoming car! A quick move into the ditch on my side followed. Although I wore a neon jacket, white shoes with reflectors, and it was not yet dark outside, the driver did not see me.

I started to wonder about who is behind the wheel of some of the cars around here. I hope these drivers have had formal driver’s education and heard the rule of looking ahead while driving. I certainly hope they are not texting on their cell phones or, God forbid, under the influence.

I am grateful and appreciative for every considerate car owner who slows down a bit, turns down the high beams and gives me the feeling I am seen and also considered a user of this road. Maybe we need more police presence out here to prevent casualties that I feel may happen sooner or later, especially after my experience on Friday.

Please, be considerate of pedestrians, especially on roads such as West Beach Road where the shoulder is already extremely narrow.

Christina Bromme

Oak Harbor

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