Thursday, June 13, 2013

BikeWalkLee: Anybody over age 2 should have these skills down cold

Today's BWL column focuses on the skills needed for walking--and the three “be’s”: Be visible, be predictable and be aware.

Today, we want to talk about walking. Simple, right? Anybody over age 2 should have this skill down cold.

Well, if you’re planning to walk out where there’s other people (and vehicles), it’s useful to keep a few things in mind that may move beyond the simple task of simply walking.

Walk this way: If you’re walking along a road without a sidewalk, you should walk to be facing oncoming traffic – not with your back to it. Not only is it the law, it’s just smart – that way, you can see what’s heading at you and take evasive action if necessary. If there’s a sidewalk, use it. It’s much safer.

Walking on a shared-use path with other walkers and bikers? Be sure to share the limited space available (whichever direction you’re walking). Walking side by side is more sociable for the walkers, but be ready to squeeze together a little to allow others to pass.

Rights vs. right-of-way: By law, all other traffic is supposed to yield to pedestrians (assuming the pedestrians are doing what they’re supposed to be doing). In reality, however, we all know that’s not always the case – and crosswalks can be the worst, as drivers often have to pull into the crosswalk to see oncoming traffic, blocking the way for walkers and others.

So walk like you have the right to be there (you do), but be prepared to yield to traffic that doesn’t always respect that right. They’re bigger and faster than you are – and there’s a difference between being right and dead right.

By the way, if you’re not following the rules of the walking road you may not have the right of way. State law says if a pedestrian crosses a street outside of a crosswalk, you have to yield to oncoming traffic. The law also says you’re not supposed to cross “between adjacent signalized intersections” – an over-broad dictum that doesn’t have much basis in reality.
Moms on walk in Tice community

The three “be’s”: Be visible, be predictable and be aware.

Be visible: Wear clothing that stands out, rather than blends in. If you’re walking at night, have some illumination so traffic can see you. If vegetation near an intersection or driveway might obscure a driver’s ability to see you, make sure they actually do know you’re there before entering the danger zone.

Be predictable: Walk at a consistent pace if you’re in a traffic-heavy area or crossing at an intersection. Don’t dart into traffic and surprise a distracted driver. Don’t start crossing a road or intersection then pause in the middle to ponder what comes next… because what comes next might be you getting hit by a car.

Be aware: Notice your surroundings and any hazards. Be able to hear traffic as well as see it (meaning don’t have the iPod up so high you can’t hear anything else). Don’t be a distracted walker – too busy talking or texting to watch what’s happening around you. (There are already too many drivers doing that, and you may need to compensate for them.)

Walking is more than just a way to get around; it’s great exercise, very relaxing and often good for what ails you – whether to think things through, clear your head or walk (and talk) through a problem. A few simple precautions can make it an even better (and safer) experience.

— 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

No comments:

Post a Comment

BikeWalkLee is not responsible for the validity of any comment posted at this site and has the right to remove any comment at any time.