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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

RPD Promotes Healthy Walking and Bike Safety

By: Sgt. Julie Ann Ziegler

Photo credits: Sgt. Julie Ann Ziegler

The Rutherford Police Department has partnered with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Coccia Realty located at 11 Park Avenue to promote healthy walking and bicycling safely throughout our community. Families are encouraged to take an active role in teaching their children the rules of the road by practicing age-appropriate distanced walks and bike rides including those to and from school. Parents or guardians should walk and bike the routes and point out crosswalks while teaching their children how to be safe. This also allows you to establish a planned route before leaving home.

Some of the very basics should cover where to walk. Walk on the sidewalk, rather than in the street. If there is no sidewalk, you should walk facing the cars so that you can be seen by oncoming traffic. Children should avoid parking lots and driveways as the drivers are not usually looking for a child. An important rule is to assume that drivers can’t see you.

When crossing the street the safest place to cross is in a marked crosswalk or at the intersection, not in the middle of the block. You should obey all traffic signals and walk, not run. Stop at the curb or edge of the street to look and listen for cars. If there are cars approaching, make sure the drivers see you and stop before you step into the street. The best way to stay safe is to look left-right-left. This includes looking both in front and behind you. And lastly, look across all lanes of traffic and make sure all lanes are clear before crossing the street. Do not wear headphones or listen to music because you need to hear what’s going on around you.

It is important that everyone can see you and you see them. Wear bright and or light-colored clothing, and use reflective gear and or reflectors like our mannequin in the Community Window on display at 11 Park Avenue. If you are walking when it is dark, use a flashlight or flashing light that attaches to your clothing.

Walking in groups helps drivers see you and is a great way to have fun together as a family or with friends. Take advantage of every opportunity to get out and walk. Walking will help you live a happy and healthy life.

Bicycles can be considered a symbol of independence and freedom. However bicycles are considered vehicles, and riders have a responsibility each time they take to the road to adhere to the rules of the road. When bicycling, wear a helmet for every ride, no matter how short the ride or how close to home. In the event of a fall or crash, bicycle helmets have the potential to reduce brain injury. Picking the correct helmet will take time. Find one that meets the safety standards established by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). For a helmet to be most effective, you must wear it correctly so it stays on your head to protect it from injury. The helmet should fit comfortably and snug, but not too tight. It should sit on your head so that the front rim is just above your eyebrows. If the helmet rests farther back, your forehead will be exposed, providing less protection from a head injury.

Before buckling in the chin strap, shake your head from side to side. If the helmet turns or slides, it is too big. When your chinstrap is buckled, open your mouth and feel the helmet press firmly against the top of your head. Make sure to read the manufactures instructions that come with your helmet to verify you are adjusting the straps, dials, and pads supplied correctly.

As a bicyclist, you should wear bright colors and reflectors so drivers can see you from far away. Tuck back your loose pant leg and tie in loose laces so they don’t get caught in the chain. Avoid riding at night. If you ride at night or in low-light conditions, make sure to use lights on the front and back of your bicycle to make yourself more visible to motorists. Reflectors aren’t enough during the evening. Take a look at our bicycle on display in the Community Window during the evening hours. You will notice our lights surround the frame for decoration only. You should use appropriate bicycle lights in both the front and rear of your bicycle.

When riding, it is important to follow all the rules of the road. Traffic signs, signals, and pavement markings apply to bicyclists too. Bicyclists must adhere to directions given by police officers and crossing guards. Practice hand signals and riding the bicycle before you get into a real-life traffic situation. You must be able to communicate your intentions to other road users by using appropriate hand signals. Begin on a dry, clean, and level area away from traffic and free of obstructions and debris. Practice your balance, circling, braking, and control skills. Make sure you can control your bicycle by keeping at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Ride on the right side of the road going with the flow of traffic. When riding with others, ride in a straight line. Do not ride side by side. When turning, look back for cars and use your hand signal. Yield to traffic when appropriate. If you see people walking across the street, stop. Always stop at the end of a driveway and look left-right-left before entering the roadway. Watch for cars exiting driveways and for cross traffic at intersections. Remember to use your eyes and ears. Do not wear headphones or listen to music while riding so that you can hear the traffic. Always try to avoid potholes, loose gravel, and animals. Dogs are known to chase bicycles or be startled by them.

Before each and every ride, perform the ABC and MORE quick check of your bike:

  • Air: Squeeze your tires to make sure they are firm and full of air.

    • PSI level can be found on the wall of each tire.

    • Replace worn or damaged tires.

  • Brakes: Hold down your brakes and try to move your bicycle back and forth, if it doesn’t move your brakes are working.

  • Chain: Make sure your chain is black or silver and quiet when you ride, if it is orange or squeaky it is rusty and needs some oil.

  • Frame: Ensure the bicycle frame is intact and that no braces, screws, bolts or brackets are loose or missing.

  • Wheels: Turn your bike upside down and spin the wheels. They should spin evenly without rubbing the forks or frame.

Safety features you should have on your bicycle:

  • Working brakes.

  • Front light (white)

  • Rear light (red)

  • Reflective devises on front, rear, sides, and pedals

  • Warning bell

  • Chainguard

Both walking and bicycling have health benefits that people of all ages will find rewarding. To name a few:

  • Mental Health – reduces anxiety and depression.

  • Heart – increases cardiovascular fitness.

  • Waistline – decreases body fat levels.

  • Coordination – improves posture, balance, and coordination.

  • Muscles – increases strength and flexibility.

  • Joints – improves mobility.

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