Walking Safety Rules to Keep You Safe this Spring

By Lynn Lewis - lynnl@landings.org
Communications Manager

Nearly everyone is looking forward to sunny skies and afternoon strolls, sans the bulky jackets and sweaters of the winter season. But while you are taking in some rays on these beautiful, soon-to-be spring days, be certain to stay safe.

As with most things in life, there are rules you should follow. Below, are just few rules that walkers always should follow according to the popular website About Health (http://walking.about.com/od/beginners/a/safewalkingrule.htm).

  • Walk Facing Traffic - If there is no sidewalk and you must walk on the side of the road, choose the side where you are facing oncoming traffic. In North America, this is the left side of the road. This gives you the best chance to see traffic approaching closest to you, and take evasive action when needed.
  • Cross Safely - Mom was right: Look both ways before crossing any street. At controlled intersections, it is wise to cross only when you have the pedestrian crossing light. But even then, drivers and bikers may have a green light to turn and won’t be expecting you to be in the crosswalk. Make eye contact with any drivers who may be turning, and give them a wave to make certain they see you. In a car/walker interaction, you can only lose.
  • Walk Single File - Unless you are on a sidewalk separated from the road or a wide bike lane, you should walk in single file. This is especially important on a road with lots of curves, where traffic has only a split second chance of seeing you before hitting you. While it can be enjoyable to walk down the road two-to-three abreast, while chatting merrily, drivers don’t expect it, and you may lose you best walking buddies.
  • Stay Aware of Bikers and Runners - Share roads and paths with bikers and runners. Bike riders should alert you when approaching from behind with a bike bell or by announcing, “passing on the left/right”. Listen for them, and move to walk single file, allowing them to pass safely. Runners also should call out for passing. Be careful; bike-walker collisions can result in broken bones or head injuries for all parties involved.
  • Be Visible - Wear bright colors when walking during the daytime. When walking at night, wear light-colored and reflective clothing or a reflective vest to be visible. Drivers often are not expecting walkers to be out after dark, and you need to do all you can to ensure they see you, even at street crossings that have crossing signals. Be just as cautious at dawn or twilight, as drivers still have limited visibility, or may even have the setting or rising sun directly in their eyes.
  • Be Predictable - Make a practice of staying on one side of the path while walking, rather than weaving randomly from side-to-side. Watch your arm motions, or you may end up giving a black eye to a silently passing walker, runner, or biker.
  • Keep the Volume Down - Don’t drown out your environment with your smartphone or MP3 player. Keep the volume at a level where you still can hear bike bells and warnings from walkers and runners. Your audiologist also will thank you.
  • Hang Up and Eyes Up - Chatting or texting on a mobile device while you walk is as dangerous as doing those things while driving. When you are distracted and not as aware of your environment, you are less likely to recognize traffic danger and other hazards. Additionally, potential criminals may see you as a distracted, easy target.
  • Walk Dogs on Short Leashes - You dog is more likely to run out into traffic or get into a fatal dog fight when off leash or on a very long leash. Don’t trip up other walkers, bikers, or runners with poor control of your pet. Keep your pet and yourself safe by learning proper leash walking.
  • Know When to Stop - Heat Sickness, dehydration, heart attack, or stroke can strike walkers of any age. Learn the symptoms of medical emergencies and carry a cell phone to dial 911.
  • Be Aware of Stranger Danger - Choose your walking route from paths frequented by other walkers, joggers, and bikers. If you see someone suspicious, be prepared to alter your course, or go into a store or public building to avoid them. Acting alert and aware can convince bad guys to choose an easier target.