Staying safe when walking or biking back to school

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The feel of a cool breeze, interesting outdoor sights, a sense of freedom, these are some of the joys many adults experienced while walking or bicycling to school as a kid. Today, for those who live in close proximity to their school campus, walking or biking can still be a fun, rewarding and healthy way to start and end the school day.
Before the school year starts, the N.C. Department of Transportation encourages North Carolinians to take time to practice and review some basics of bicycling and walking to school with their child.
“School age children have to be taught the best and safest way to walk and ride their bicycle, because most children do not understand traffic, which puts them at a greater risk of injury,” said Kumar Trivedi, interim director of NCDOT’s Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation.
There were 506 children ages six to 10 injured in pedestrian crashes in North Carolina between 2004 and 2008. A total of 479 children ages six to 10 were injured in bicycle crashes during that time period, accounting for 10 percent of all bicycle crashes.
By working with their child, parents can help prevent these types of accidents. A way to begin is to map out what route your child is going to take to school and take advantage of free summer days to walk or ride the route a couple of times with your child. Use this time to go over some basic safety rules. Some key safety tips to share with children include:
• Look both ways when crossing a street, or coming out of an alley or driveway.
• Know and learn traffic signs and pedestrian crossing signals.
•  Wear a helmet when bicycling, it’s the law.
• When you’re on a bike, don’t do tricks in the road and keep both hands on the handlebars.
• Children getting off the bus should stop and look both ways before crossing every time.
Motorists should also be aware that the start of school means more children will be walking, biking or waiting at bus stops in the area. Some safety tips for motorists include:
• Look for children near school crossing zones and yield to children in crosswalks.
• Follow directions from school crossing guards.
• Stop for school buses and be mindful of children waiting at bus stops – there is a $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone in North Carolina.
For more bicycle and pedestrian safety rules, tips and materials, visit
– article submitted by Julia Merchant

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