|(Photo: Sarah Coward/news-press.com)|
School’s open next Monday, a milestone that can provoke a range of emotions from anticipation to anxiety to celebration. That means it’s also time to remind drivers — and students and parents — about some of the rules of the road.
Watch out close to schools: With kids (and parents) biking and walking to school, the immediate area around a school can be a busy bike/ped place. Slow down (speed limits usually are lower anyway) and pay attention.
Watch out for drop-off lines: This one applies both ways. First, the line of cars leading up to some schools can be long and slow-moving, which messes up regular traffic and often means inattentive drivers. Then, once their little darling has been safely deposited, some drivers can be a little too eager to make up for lost time, speeding away from school at an imprudent pace while often attempting to do something completely unrelated to driving — say, texting, eating or applying makeup — at the same time.
Watch out for stopped buses: Not only so you don’t hit them, but so you don’t break the law by not braking. If a bus is stopped in a two-lane road, both lanes to traffic must stop when the red lights start flashing. If it’s a multi-lane road paved across all lanes, that also means everyone (in both direction) must come to a complete stop while the bus is loading. It’s only on truly divided highways — with a landscaped or barricaded median — where only the traffic behind the bus must stop… but those driving in the other direction are urged to pay attention, of course.
Watch out for bus stops: Even (especially) if the bus hasn’t arrived, it doesn’t mean you can zoom right by. Any place where students congregate is a place where something could go quickly wrong —someone dashing into the street, kids making their way inattentively to the stop, parents parked nearby waiting for the arrival of the bus, and more. All good reasons to pay attention.
If you’re a student (with or without a parent) who’s decided to bike or walk to school, good for you! It’s a great way to start the day, it gives you some independence along with your exercise — heck, it may even make you a better student (but it unfortunately won’t get you out of homework).
You may be walking or biking because you live closer than two miles to the school — which means the school district does not have to provide transportation except in special circumstances. Or it may be because it’s fun. Either way, remember a few simple things:
•If you’re under age 16, put on that helmet before you ride… it’s the law. Parents, if you’re riding with young kids, put your own helmet on. It not only sets a good example, but it can keep you safe if accidents happen… and don’t you want to see your kid grow up and graduate?
•There’s safety in numbers… on foot or on bikes. Some neighborhoods organize walking school buses or bike trains so kids and adults can move together, making them more visible and (hopefully) safer.
•Be predictable and follow the rules of the road. Stay out of the driving lanes, walk facing traffic (but bike with it if you can’t be on a sidewalk), stop at all intersections and don’t expect drivers to pay attention to everything you do (even though they supposed to do so).
Groups such as Safe Routes to Schools (http://saferoutespartnership.org/) and Walk/Bike to School (http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/), among others, have ideas for ways parents and communities can work to keep bike/walk kids safe. And the
Lee County School District (leeschools.net) has all the bus routes, school details, calendars and rules you’ll need to keep this school year on track.
At the beginning of every school year, we ask our kids to work hard and learn. Let’s all of us — drivers, bikers, walkers, parents and anyone else — work just as hard to keep them safe.
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org.
Ready to ride or run?
Run: The dog days offer slim pickings for organized runs —there’s one in Naples on Saturday (North Collier Regional Rampage, www.eliteevents.org) — so plan your own run to keep in shape or get ready for a full fall calendar ahead.
Ride: There’s a Global Solidarity Ride on Sunday, Aug. 30, to support the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team. It starts from Go Girl Cycling, 9377 Six Mile Cypress Parkway,
Fort Myers. Also, mark your calendars for the next SWFL Critical Mass gathering on Friday, Sept. 4, in downtown Fort Myers.
Both: While the Sept. 12-13 Galloway Captiva Tri is sold out, if you’re willing to drive north a little there are two choices: A traditional tri is the Venice YMCA Triathlon (sprint) on Sunday, Sept. 5 (www.swflymca.org/programs/venice-triathlon) and the Life’s A Beach Triathlon on
Lido Key is a more easy-going tri on Saturday, Sept. 12 (www.lifesabeachtriathlon.com).
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