Oregon Department of Transportation reminds students and families to be smart, safe on Walk + Bike to School Day, Oct. 3
SALEM – More than 160 Oregon schools are signed up to join international “Walk + Bike to School Day” on Oct. 3, and that could mean thousands of extra young people striding, rolling and pedaling their way to and from school. The Oregon Department of Transportation is encouraging motorists to continue being vigilant about safe driving in and around schools throughout the state. Students are also encouraged to be visible and follow the rules of the road.
According to the national Safe Routes to School program, walking, skating or bicycling to school helps students:
- Reach the recommended goal of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
- Arrive at school energized and ready to learn.
- Reduce the family’s fuel expenses.
- Take an active role in their well-being.
In 1969, about half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycling, one-quarter are made on a school bus and more than half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles. According to the Federal Highway Administration, this decline in walking and bicycling has had an adverse effect on traffic congestion and air quality around schools, as well as on pedestrian and bicycle safety. However, with ongoing school and home discussions about being safe, students can safely enjoy their “commute” – and get a little exercise to boot! Here are some important reminders:
Always wear your helmet. Ride in the same direction as traffic, not against traffic. Stay alert and ride predictably. Don’t assume motorists can see you. When you are in the street, you are required to follow the rules of the road just like a vehicle. If you are on the sidewalk, ride at walking speed and be prepared to walk your bike when there is congestion. It is recommended that you walk your bike in a crosswalk. Wear a bright shirt or jacket to increase visibility.
Be visible. Wear bright clothing, or add reflective material or a blinking light to your jacket or backpack. Before crossing a street, look “left-right-left” for traffic in all directions. Do not cross until vehicles in all lanes stop for you. Wait for a walk signal and a green light to tell you it’s your turn to cross the street. Look before you go to make sure drivers see you and have stopped. Continue looking for cars and bicycles as you cross. Motorists are reminded to stop and stay stopped for pedestrians at intersections, whether the crosswalk is marked or not. In general, it’s good advice for everyone to be especially alert around schools, no matter how you travel!
To learn more about Oregon’s participation in National Walk + Bike to School, visit www.walknbike.org. To learn more about getting to and from school safely, visit www.oregonsaferoutes.org.