Safety Tips Update

17 Apr

In my welcoming post on this blog I provided a few safety tips for those of us walking on DC sidewalks .  Since a friend suggested I categorize my blog topics and I thought that was a fine idea, I tried to do it.  And that’s how I discovered that, although I can create categories aplenty, I can’t reassign existing posts to them.  So to launch this important category I’m repeating some of my earlier tips and adding a couple:

Walking on the Sidewalk

1.  If you are walking on the sidewalk, walk as far to the right as possible.

This is the accepted flow of pedestrian traffic here in the USA, and, by doing so, you will leave a bicyclist only the option of passing on your left.

2.  Whenever you come to a corner, look both ways on the street you are turning onto before turning (just pretend you are an auto coming to an interesection).

Bicyclists on sidewalks follow no street traffic rules and so, one may come from one direction while another is coming from the other direction.  You, as the most vulnerable person on the sidewalk, need to be alert to any possibility.

3.  If you decide to get a newspaper from a street box, get out of the way of a puddle if it’s raining or do almost anything else that will cause you to move even a bit to the left, look behind you before moving left.

Bicyclists riding on sidewalks also do not warn you they are coming up behind you.  And it’s the rare bicyclist who will slow his ride enough to stay behind you.

4.  Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the time of day or the lack of street traffic on a holiday.  Stay alert for all possibilities.

Since I’ve been walking to work I’ve discovered that it’s the middle of the day, evening or on a Saturday or Sunday morning when there are many more bicyclists riding recklessly on the sidewalks than at rush hours.  And they’re not usually Bikeshare bicyclists either.

Crossing the Street

1. PLEASE WAIT FOR THE PED SIGNAL.  This is not only the law, it gives you a few seconds to scan the entire street, all directions, in front of you. And, regardless of how long you think the light is taking to change, most lights are less than a minute.

  If you think no auto traffic is coming, remember there are also bicyclists.  And sadly they rarely stop for the light.  They too look only to see if a car is coming at the intersection they want to cross against the light.  They do not look to see if a pedestrian is crossing as well.

2.  Once you have the walk signal and start across in the crosswalk make certain to quickly look about half way across because bicyclists often weave between cars on their way to the intersection and can come at great speeds.

3.  Crossing or walking on the sidewalk, make it a habit to stay alert to the scene around you at all times. Do whatever works for you to make that a habit.

I say to myself “no bike” as I look each direction at a corner or a crossing and that helps me remember. It’s like signalling every time you turn, whether you’re riding a bike or driving an auto.  If you do it every time you make that move, even when pulling into your own driveway, you’ll never forget when changing lanes on a busy street or highway.

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