If you are a parent, allowing your children to ride a bike or walk to school has significant advantages, not the least of which is the opportunity to get some much-needed exercise.

However, there are also hazards involved in walking or biking to school. A collision with a motor vehicle as a bicyclist or pedestrian can be deadly. Therefore, it is essential for your children to understand traffic rules and safety measures that can help to minimize the chances of accidents or injuries. This is especially important during the winter months when inclement weather could lead to hazardous road conditions.

Tips for bicyclists

Though not motorized, a bicycle is a wheeled vehicle, just as an automobile is. Therefore, many of the same traffic safety rules that car or truck drivers should follow apply to bicyclists as well:

  • Heed all traffic signs and signals
  • Avoid the use of distracting electronics while riding
  • Ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic

Using the proper safety equipment is at least as important, if not more so, for the rider of a bike as the driver of a car. Just as seat belts are of fundamental importance to safety in an automobile, a properly fitted and securely fastened helmet is the fundamental piece of safety equipment for a bicyclist.

Bicycle lanes are not available on every road, but wherever there is a bike lane, the bicyclist should use it whenever possible.

Tips for walkers

Pedestrians need to obey traffic signals, avoid distractions in the form of electronics and refrain from shoving, pushing or other reckless behavior while near the road. When crossing the street, it is important to look right, left and right again at the intersection and stay within the crosswalks.

Whenever possible, it is best to stay on the sidewalk when traveling on foot. However, in areas where there is no sidewalk available, pedestrians should position themselves along the side of the road where they will be facing oncoming traffic. Note that this is different from the rules for bicyclists, who should travel with the traffic flow.

It can be a lot to expect young children to remember traffic safety rules and tips. If your child is under the age of 10, you or another responsible adult should accompany him or her on the walk or bike ride to school.