Roadway safety used to mean vehicular safety, but we have come a long way as a society in learning how to share the road with all users. Pedestrians and bicyclists are more and more prevalent on our roadways, especially during the current pandemic. People are working from home, there is less vehicular traffic on the streets, and walking and biking are a way to get outside at a time when many other options remain unavailable. This will only increase as the weather gets warmer and people venture out more and more.
Here are some tips to remember for all users.
- Slow down! With less traffic, it may be appealing to drive faster but remember, a pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph has an 85% chance of being killed; at 20 mph, the risk is reduced to 5%.
- Avoid distractions. Driving is a serious responsibility and requires your attention and focus. When your attention is on the road, you’ll be prepared for any unexpected events.
- Yield to pedestrians in marked and unmarked crosswalks.
- Give cyclists their space – 3 feet is the law! If you need to pass a cyclist, slow down and give them the required distance.
- Follow the rules of the road – the same rules that apply to drivers apply to you!
- Be visible – wear bright or reflective clothing and use a light if conditions are dark.
- Wear a helmet! If a crash is unavoidable, a helmet can be the difference between life and death. Over half of all bicycle fatalities are the result of a head injury.
- Always use a sidewalk if available. If one isn’t available, walk as far to the edge of the road as possible facing traffic.
- Use crosswalks when present, and obey pedestrian signals.
- Be visible – wear visible clothing and carry a flashlight if walking in dark conditions.
Multi-use trails are a great way to walk and bike without exposing oneself to vehicular traffic, but trail safety is important too. On many trails, pedestrians and cyclists of all levels of experience are sharing a limited amount of space.
In their June newsletter, Watch for Me CT shared some information from the Farmington Valley Trails Council about survey results from their membership. The following are the most common safety issues those trail users experienced.
- Users moving too fast for conditions
- Users not thoughtfully sharing space
- Coming upon someone unexpectedly
- Interactions with vehicles at intersections
To safely share the trial, here are some tips to follow.
- Cyclists should keep their speed down.
- Stay on the right side of the trail and do not take up more than half of the trail.
- Indicate when passing, if you are a runner or cyclist, and as a walker be alert and aware of trail users coming up behind you.
- Where a trail crosses a road, be cautious of vehicles and stop at the intersection.
All users of the roadway and multi-use trails should expect the unexpected. If everyone is doing their part to pay attention, follow the rules and look out for others, crashes can be avoided and everyone can get home safely.
For more information and assistance with local road safety in your community, contact Melissa Evans, Safety Circuit Rider, at firstname.lastname@example.org.