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Safe Walking and Bicycling for Exercise During Shelter In Place

May 2020

Parents and caregivers face a daunting task right now: keeping their children safe, active, and engaged while schools are closed. Medical experts say as long as families follow government guidelines for social distancing — staying at least six feet apart from others who do not live with you — activities such as walking and bicycling are important to maintain good physical and mental health during this stressful time. Here are some things to remember:

Choose routes close to home that are not crowded, so do avoid parks and trails. While out, don’t touch banisters, benches, pull-up bars, “walk” buttons on stoplights, and other outdoor surfaces. Wear gloves and masks. Wash your hands with soap after you return, once before taking off your mask and again afterward. Wash/dispose of your mask safely. A good rule of thumb is to leave your shoes at the door.

Although there is less traffic on the streets, empty roads often induce drivers to speed. And, as always, the distracted driver is a hazard. So it is important to remember traffic safety when you and your children are walking or bicycling.

Walking Safety

  • Pick the safest route – close to home.
  • Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available.
  • If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible.
  • Pass other people only where there is 6 feet of passing room. Look both ways for cars and cyclists before stepping out into the road to avoid a fellow pedestrian.
  • Keep alert at all times; don’t be distracted by electronic devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  • Whenever possible, cross streets at crosswalks or intersections (where drivers expect pedestrians). Look for cars and bikes in all directions, including those turning left or right.
  • Never assume a driver or cyclist sees you. Make eye contact with drivers and cyclists as they approach to make sure you are seen.
  • Be visible at all times. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flashlight at night.
  • Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways and parking spots.

Bicycling Safety

Preparing to ride

  • Ride a bike that fits you — it’s hard to control a bike that’s too big.
  • Ride a bike that works — it doesn’t matter how well you ride if the brakes don’t work.
  • Wear equipment to protect you and make you more visible to others, like a bike helmet and bright clothing during the day, and reflective gear, a white front light, and red rear light and reflectors on your bike at night (or when visibility is poor).
  • Ride one per seat, with both hands on the handlebars, unless signaling a turn.
  • Carry all items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike.
  • Tuck and tie your shoelaces and pant legs so they don’t get caught in your bike chain.
  • Plan your route—if driving as a vehicle on the road, choose routes with less traffic and slower speeds. If riding on a multi-use bike trail, choose routes with less slow-moving pedestrian traffic.

When riding

  • Be focused and alert to the road and all traffic around you.
  • Anticipate what others may do, before they do it.
  • Ride with the flow, in the same direction as traffic.
  • Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like a car.
  • Assume the other person doesn’t see you; look ahead for hazards or situations to avoid that may cause you to fall, like toys, pebbles, potholes, grates, and train tracks.
  • No texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you.
  • Ride where you are expected to be seen.
  • Signal and look over your shoulder before changing lanes or turning.

Avoid or minimize sidewalk riding. If you must ride on the sidewalk remember to:

  • Check that sidewalk riding is legal in your city.
  • Yield to pedestrians, scooter riders, skateboards and people walking their dogs.
  • Pass others with care when it is safe only by first announcing “passing on your left” or using a bell. It is your responsibility to stay 6 feet away from people you are passing.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic. This way, if the sidewalk ends, you are already riding with the flow of traffic. If crossing a street, motorists will look left, right, left for traffic. When you are to the driver’s left, the driver is more likely to see you.
  • Slow and look for traffic (left-right-left and behind) when crossing a street from a sidewalk.
  • Follow the traffic signs and signals.
  • Slow down and look for cars backing out of driveways or turning.

 Tips for Safe Walking and Bicycling for exercise during shelter in place