The new school year has started, with classes and after-school activities. You may have everything you need in your backpack and a full to-do list, but you also need to keep yourself safe getting where you need to go. Whether you’re traveling to school on foot, on a bike, or just getting to the bus stop, make sure you follow these basic traffic safety tips.
Look Up from the Phone
If you’re walking to school, learn your route ahead of time, and let your homestay family know your whereabouts for the day. If you need to stop to consult your phone, stop to do it. Walking and texting at the same time is not a good way to stay safe!
A Well-Fitting Helmet Is a Must
If you are commuting to school and other activities by bike, make sure you wear a properly-fitting helmet at all times. Get yourself fitted for a new (not second-hand) helmet and it should be solely for your own use. If your helmet has been in an accident, replace it right away. A slight crack may not be visible on the outside, but any impact will compromise the effectiveness of this important piece of equipment.
Stay Visible When It’s Dark Outside
Essential for safe walking and cycling is visible, bright, reflective clothing and outerwear. Fall mornings can be very dark. If your jacket or backpack does not have any reflective strips, you can purchase some at outdoor stores like MEC, and apply them to backpacks and outerwear. By November, afternoons can get dark quickly. It’s your responsibility to know the traffic rules, obey all signage, and be visible.
Plan for the Rain
Cycling over the fall months can be very wet in Metro Vancouver. Mounted flashing bike lights are essential. Slow down and stop well before the intersection, and don’t assume other drivers can see you. Make sure your bike is well maintained, and check your tires before heading off. In October, frost starts appearing on the roads, and can be slippery for cyclists. If you’re not sure if your bike is up for cold weather conditions, upgrade it. If in doubt, walk or take the bus to school instead.
Know Your Route
Cycle defensively and take designated cycling routes whenever possible. Check out the Burnaby Bike Map; designated cycling routes will have the most cycling traffic and are designed to make cycling more appealing and safe.
Stay Away from Headphones
While it may be tempting to listen to your favourite tunes on your way to school, doing so while cycling is a bad idea. You need to be able to hear the traffic and other pedestrians. Keep your ears free to hear the noises around you, which will keep you safe on your bike.
Let Others Know Your Whereabouts
Tell your homestay family your schedule for the day and whether you have after-school activities. Good communication is essential. Keep aware of your surroundings so that you arrive at school safely and ready for the day ahead!