October 15 is National White Cane Safety Day, celebrating the achievements of blind and visually impaired people while reminding others that the white cane is an important tool to help blind people travel independently.
Portland Streetcar is committed to providing safe, accessible public transportation for all, and we work to accommodate blind and visually impaired riders through audio stop announcements, tactile pavement treatments at platforms and Braille onboard signage.
The White Cane Law for motorists reads:
“A totally or partially blind pedestrian who is carrying a predominately white cane (with or without a red tip), or using a guide dog, shall have the right-of-way. The driver of any vehicle approaching this pedestrian, who fails to yield the right-of-way, or to take all responsibility necessary precautions to avoid injury to this blind pedestrian, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both. This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other applicable provision of law.” – Vehicle Code #21963
Travel safety tips from the Braille Institute:
- Stop your car at least 5ft. from a crosswalk. Pedestrians who are visually impaired or blind may use the sound of your engine to locate crosswalk boundaries. If any part of your car is in the crosswalk, they may misjudge the safe area.
- Avoid honking at individuals using a white cane. People who are blind or visually impaired have no idea why you are honking.
- It is okay to ask if assistance is needed. Ask the person who is blind or visually impaired for permission before trying to assist. If the person asks you to help guide them, offer your arm. They will hold your arm just above the elbow to follow your path.
We ask all Portlanders to join us in learning about orientation and mobility to help provide a safer Portland for our blind and visually impaired neighbors.