Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Pedal your way safely to school



By Matt Walthour

Well it’s that time of year again, the children are heading back to school. The list is ready, new notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, maybe a new back pack, or the latest and greatest lunch box is waiting on the shelf. Do kids still use lunch boxes? Anyway, you’re about ready to send your children off to another year of learning and adventure. There are many ways children head back to school, either by bus, dropped off by car, walking and of course, my favorite, bicycling.

So if your children will be bicycling to school at any time during the school year, or bicycling in general, here are some important tips that are published on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website.

Top Bicycle Safety Rules

  • Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet to protect your head – every time you ride.
  • Use a bicycle that is the appropriate size for you, not one that is too big.
  • Before you ride make sure you don’t have any loose clothing, drawstrings, or shoelaces; they can get caught in your chain and make you fall.
  • Have an adult check the air in your tires and that your brakes are working before you ride.
  • Wear bright clothes so others can see you at all times of the day.
  • Stay alert at all times; never listen to music when riding. Pay attention and watch for cars, people and other bicyclists around you.
  • Don’t bicycle at night. If you must ride, make sure your bike has reflectors and lights and wear retro-reflective materials on your ankles, wrists, back and helmet.
  • Before you enter any street or intersection check for traffic by looking left-right-left to make sure no cars or trucks are there.
  • Learn and follow the rules of the road.

Rules of the Road

  • When riding in the road, always ride on the right hand side (same direction as traffic).
  • Obey traffic laws, including all the traffic signs and signals.
  • Ride predictably—ride in a straight line, don’t weave in and out of traffic.
  • When riding on a sidewalk — show respect for the people walking on the sidewalk. Ring your bell or verbally alert them that you are coming and always pass them on the left.
  • Look for debris on your route that could cause you to fall off your bicycle, like trash, stones, toys.

Matt Walthour, a Marco Island resident since 1985 is a graduate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and is the owner of Island Bike Shop and Scootertown on Marco Island and Naples. He is also a member of the Marco Island bike path ad-hoc committee.

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