Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Schools Encourage Students to Bike to School Safely

(Salt Lake City) – As the weather warms up, many school-age children will begin walking or riding a bicycle to school and the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), Safe Kids Utah, and local elementary schools want to remind parents and kids of the importance of getting to school safe. 

Approximately 600 students, parents, teachers, and community leaders from Silver Mesa Elementary School in Sandy, Utah will walk or ride a bike to school as part of National Bike to School Day on May 4, 2016.

“We are excited to partner with our local schools to create safer routes for bicycling and walking to and from school,” said Cambree Applegate, Safe Kids Utah Director at the UDOH. “Riding a bike is a great way for kids and their families to increase their physical activity and reduce traffic congestion and emissions from vehicles. And learning how to stay safe while doing so is key.” 

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety, there is an average of 764 bicyclists in crashes every year in Utah, an increase of 6.3% over the last 10 years. Nearly 35% of these crashes are school-age children aged 5-19. The summer months, June through September, have the highest bicycle-motor vehicle crashes.

“The most important thing parents and kids can do to stay safe while riding a bicycle is to wear a helmet. In Utah, only 30% of bicyclists in crashes were wearing a helmet and research shows that helmets are the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and deaths in a bicycle crash,” said Applegate.
Tips for staying safe while riding a bicycle include:

  • Wear a helmet. Remember, “Use your head, wear a helmet” when riding a bicycle, scooter, skateboard or long board, and when roller skating or in-line skating.
  • Find the right helmet fit and make sure your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and should not rock forward, backward, or side-to-side. The straps must always be buckled and in the form of a “V” under the ears when buckled. A quick helmet fit test can be found at http://www.safekids.org/safetytips/field_type/video.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers; use the right side of the road going with traffic not against traffic; how to use hand signals and respect traffic signals, including stopping at all stop signs and stoplights; and to stop and look left, right, and then left again before crossing the street.
  • Maintain equipment and make sure your bike is the right fit.
  • Be bright and be seen. When riding at dawn or dusk, it’s important to be seen. Wearing bright colors and making sure your bike has reflectors or lights make it easier for drivers to see you.
National Bike to School Day provides an opportunity for communities to join together to bicycle to school on the same day. The event builds on the success of the worldwide Walk to School Day event held in October each year.
For more information on how to get involved with National Walk and Bike to School Day, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org. Information on creating a safe route to school can be found at www.saferoutesinfo.org. Bicycle and pedestrian safety tips can be found at http://health.utah.gov/vipp.
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Media Contacts:
Cambree Applegate
Safe Kids Utah
(o) 801-538-6852 (m) 435-862-8773

Katie McMinn
(o) 801-538-6156 (m) 801-856-6697