Beaver County Extension

Safely walking and riding a bicycle to school

Walking and riding a bike are two of the easiest, most reliable ways to get anywhere, including school.

Walking and riding a bike are two of the easiest, most reliable ways to get anywhere, including school. That means when Oklahoma students head back to the classroom soon everyone should keep some important safety precautions in mind.

“Walking and riding a bicycle are great ways to get to and from school. But, children can be at an increased risk of injury because they’re smaller, tend to have trouble judging distances and speeds of cars, and don’t have a lot of experience with traffic laws,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

As a basic rule, walkers and bikers should obey all traffic signs, signals and laws, as well as any adult school crossing guards.

Younger children who do not know the rules of the road should be accompanied by an adult.

“Parents and children should work together as a family to map out the safest route to and from school,” Peek said. “Once a route is identified, parents should stress how important it is for children to stick to the plan and avoid taking shortcuts or accepting rides from people they don’t know or who weren’t sent by their parents.”  

Both walkers and bikers also should pay close attention to their surroundings and keep distractions, such as cell phones or other electronic devices, to a minimum.

“Watch for parked, oncoming or moving vehicles when crossing driveways and intersections,” Peek said. “Be especially careful at intersections and crosswalks. Before crossing, check the traffic and only proceed when there is no oncoming traffic.”

Walkers should use sidewalks when they are available. Otherwise, they should keep to the shoulder of the road, facing traffic.

Meanwhile, according to the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety’s Driver’s Manual, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as a person driving a car and are subject to all the same vehicle laws. This means bike riders obey the law, just like car drivers.

For safety purposes, bicyclists should wear properly fitted bike helmets and brightly colored clothing to make them more visible to motorists.

Bicycle riders also should watch for road hazards such as potholes, storm grates and pools of water which could cause them to lose control of their bikes 

“Empty parking lots or other low-traffic areas are good places to practice important bike-handling skills like stopping and signaling, which can increase your child’s confidence in being able to ride to and from school safely,” Peek said.

For more information on walking and biking safety, contact the nearest county Extension office.

Story by Leilana McKindra

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