Back To School Safety Series

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This is part three of the four-part series of articles by the Garden City Police Department addressing back to school safety issues. In the previous two articles we addressed safe driving practices and school bus safety. If you missed either of these articles, you can stop by the Garden City Police Department and pick up a copy. This week’s article will cover pedestrian/bicycle safety. Parents, grandparents, guardians and teachers are encouraged to use this article to help teach their children about pedestrian/bicycle safety.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Pedestrians should always use sidewalks when available and walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk, farthest away from traffic. When no sidewalk is available, walk in single file as close to the edge of the roadway as possible. You should also walk against the flow of traffic so that oncoming cars are visible.
  • Research has shown that until your child is at least 8 years old, you should hold their hand when on the sidewalk and in parking lots. Furthermore, until they are 10 years old, you should hold their hand while crossing the street.
  • Children should be taught to be defensive and to never assume that a driver sees them.
  • Always look in all directions before crossing the street; left, then right, then left again. Never run into the street.
  • Avoid crossing streets mid-block, especially when parked cars may obstruct vision. Cross at stop signs, traffic signals, crosswalks and crossing guards when available.
  • When crossing a street, never assume a green light or walk signal means it is safe to cross the street. Remember: look left, then right, then left again before crossing.
  • Remove earphones when preparing to cross the street. You will not be able to hear approaching traffic.
  • Do not follow others across the street until you have checked for yourself to see that it is safe to cross.
  • Walk the route to school with your child and discuss safe practices. Teach your children about traffic laws and encourage them to ask questions when they are unsure of what to do.
  • Crossing guards are provided near schools to assist children and others in safely crossing the street. It is a violation of New York State law to disregard the signals and directions of crossing guards.
  • Children should be taught to obey the directions given to them by crossing guards. This includes crossing only when directed and not running or riding bicycles at crossings.

Bicycle Safety

  • Persons riding bicycles are subject to the same laws as motorists.
  • All bicyclists under the age of 14 are required to wear approved bicycle helmets when they are operators or passengers on bicycles.
  • Regardless of what the law requires, the Garden City Police Department recommends that all operators and passengers wear bicycle helmets. According to a 2014 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, it is estimated that 83 percent of all bicyclists killed in accidents were not wearing a bike helmet. Parents should set a good example and wear a helmet.
  • Children should be taught how to ride a bicycle and should practice riding in a safe location where there are no cars. It is important for children to learn how to signal, turn, slow down and stop without falling. Hand signals for bicyclists are the same as for motorists.
  • Children should be taught to be defensive when riding and never assume that a driver sees them.
  • Bicyclists should carefully look in all directions for vehicles, other bicyclists and pedestrians. Extra care should be taken when nearing intersections or driveways where vehicles may be turning.
  • Children should walk their bicycles across intersections.
  • Bicycles should be ridden in bicycle lanes when available or as close to the right edge of the roadway as possible, in the same direction as traffic.
  • Bicycles should be ridden in single file.
  • A bicycle should NEVER be used to carry more people than it was designed to carry. Never ride anyone on the handlebars.

When riding a bicycle, wear bright colored clothing and make sure the bicycle has proper reflectors.

Do not ride a bicycle while wearing earphones; you will not be able to hear approaching traffic. It is illegal to wear more than one ear phone while riding a bicycle.

A bicycle must be equipped with:

  • A brake, which is capable of making the tires skid on dry level pavement.
  • A bell, horn or other device that can be heard at least a hundred feet away. Sirens and whistles are not permitted.
  • Bicycles driven between a half-hour after sunset and a half-hour before sunrise must be equipped with a white front headlight, visible in darkness for at least 500 feet and a red taillight visible for at least 300 feet.
  • A bicycle, when purchased new and/or driven at night, must have reflective tires, or wide-angle spoke-mounted reflectors. Reflectors must be colorless or amber for front wheels and colorless or red for rear wheels.

The Garden City Police Department encourages residents to incorporate these safe practices into their lives to make this school year a safe one. Please remember to read part four of the back to school series, stranger danger, in next week’s paper.

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Garden City Life has served the vibrant areas of Garden City and Stewart Manor since 1985, serving as a source for local news, community events and more.

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