Let’s face it; although rain is important (especially now, during a drought), a little extra sunshine sure brightens our spirits. As the weather warms we start thinking of being outside—of spring break, spring vacations, and spring fever.
A great way to soak in some of that sunshine is to get out of the house and walk or bike to work or school. But before you or your kids head out the door, please think about how to be safe.
If your kids bike to school, tell them what experienced cyclists recommend: to wear helmets and ride defensively! Because no matter how right bicyclists are, they can still be injured or killed by a motorist in the wrong. A great place to learn more about bicycle safety is www.bicyclesafe.com.
As drivers, we all need to be aware of bicyclists, whether they are children on their way to school or adults on their way to work. Following these recommendations will help keep everyone safe:
Allow extra space. 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.
Be extra cautious around kids. Expect the unexpected when you see a kid on a bike. They don’t always think before they act.
Last year, we experienced the unthinkable more than once: pedestrians were hit in the crosswalk. That should never happen. As drivers we need to do all we can to yield to pedestrians in the roadway. Did you know that the California Vehicle Code requires a motorist to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, even if they’re on the other side of the road? So please stay alert for pedestrians, especially driving downtown or near school zones.
And for kids walking to school, it’s vitally important that parents remind them of these points:
Watch Out. When crossing a street, look for cars and cross only when it is safe.
Be Seen. 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 see you.
Walk Defensively. 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.
Pay Attention. Please put your phone and ear buds away, so you can see and HEAR what’s happening around you. Your life may depend on it!
If anything good can come from terrible pedestrian accidents, it is that we remember how important it is for motorists to drive cautiously in school zones and for our kids to learn how to protect themselves in crosswalks. So parents, please take sometime to review these safety tips with your kids.
To make sure local motorists remember to watch out for bikes and pedestrians, I have asked our officers to provide some extra traffic enforcement this spring. Before and after school you will notice UPD officers spending more time enforcing traffic violations, especially near school zones and in residential areas where people typically drive too fast. Please consider this a warning to keep your speed down and give the right of way to pedestrians. Our goal is to save lives. Posted speed limits are not there simply to annoy you. Our roadways can be dangerous, especially near crosswalks, and speed limits and pedestrian laws are designed to protect everyone–drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians!
So please, go enjoy some sunshine and watch out for kids walking and biking to school—let’s work together to keep our community safe.
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.