Bike and Pedestrian Safety
Just a few weeks ago, a motorist hit and seriously injured a student in a crosswalk on N. State Street on her way to school. The crosswalk is marked as a school zone, the crosswalk was controlled by a crossing guard, and other traffic had stopped to allow students to cross. Tragically, one driver did not stop, and the student in the crosswalk did not see the on-coming vehicle.
If anything good can come from this terrible accident, I hope it is a reminder of how important it is for motorists to drive cautiously in school zones and for our kids to learn how to protect themselves in crosswalks going to and from school.
A great resource for parents to use in teaching their kids about traffic safety is the following website: http://www.justdrivepa.org/Traffic-Safety-Information-Center/. Parents can find great educational videos to watch with their kids about pedestrian and bike safety.
We all know there are times when our kids would rather get information from their friends rather than us, even though that information might be false. So here are some facts to set the record straight about common myths they may have heard.
Myth 1 – A green light means it is safe to cross the street.
Fact 1 – A green light means you should look for cars and only cross when it is safe. Continue looking for cars as you cross.
Myth 2 – You are safe in a crosswalk.
Fact 2 – Sometimes drivers can’t see you. The law requires cars to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but always make eye contact with drivers while you’re in a crosswalk to make sure they have stopped for you.
Myth 3 – Drivers will stop if you’re in a crosswalk or at an intersection about to cross.
Fact 3 – Drivers can be distracted, their view may be blocked, or they may not see you. If you’re not sure you’ve been seen, stop and wait for the car to pass.
Myth 4 – It’s fine to wear headphones or talk on your cell phone while walking.
Fact 4 – Please put your phone and ear buds away, so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend upon it!
Since May is National Bike Month and motorists also have a hard time seeing cyclists, I thought I’d share a few safety tips. With summer right around the corner, I really worry about speeding cars, risky driving, and kids (or anyone else) riding their bikes around Ukiah.
If you’re a motorist, think of bikes as cars without safety features—no seat belts or crumple zones, no air bags, nothing between the person and the road (except maybe a bike helmet), so give them a little extra leeway to help ensure their safety.
Sharing the road with a cyclist is simple:
- Allow extra space when passing bicyclists. If possible, give a bicyclist at least 3-4 feet of space when passing.
- Slow down. Reduce your speed when approaching and passing a bike.
- Keep your eyes open. Bikes can be hard to see, especially in your blind spots. Please pay special attention when driving through intersections and parking.
- Be extra cautious around kids on bikes. Expect the unexpected when you see a kid on a bike. Slow down and give them as much room as you safely can.
For great tips on safe cycling, check out www.bicyclesafe.com. The article titled, “How to Not Get Hit by Cars” reviews ten collision scenarios and how to avoid them. The article points out that wearing a helmet is a fantastic idea; it can save your life, but it doesn’t prevent you from being hit.
If you or your loved ones ride bicycles on the road, please wear your helmet and bright clothes, follow the rules of the road, and ride defensively.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.