The 2021-2022 academic year kicks off in Iowa City next week and now is a great time to review these safety tips for adults and school-age children.
Walking to school
- Parents should walk or bike the route prior to school starting. Look for any possible hazards and identify a safe place for your child to go if they need help.
- Stop, look, and listen before crossing the street — look left, right, and left again.
- Always cross at the crosswalk and obey traffic signals.
- Stay on the sidewalk or bike path.
- Do not cross between parked cars.
- If someone approaches you, or makes you feel uncomfortable, do not talk to them and just keep going.
Riding the bus
- Be at the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- Know your bus number.
- If someone offers you a ride always say, "NO!"
- Do not play in the street while waiting for your bus.
- When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps, about 6 feet, away from the curb.
- Line up away from the street.
- Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it's OK before boarding.
- If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps, about 10 feet, ahead of the bus before you cross.
Driving to school
- Drivers should pay close attention to protect the safety and well-being of students, teachers, crossing guards, and others as they make their way to and from classes and other activities.
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
- Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians, and on curbs.
- Be prepared to share the road with young bicyclists — give no less than five feet of space when passing and do not honk.
- Watch for children on or near the road in the morning and after school hours.
- Reduce distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Do not text, email, or use your smartphone while driving.
- Always give children the right-of-way in crosswalks.
Biking to school
- Wear brightly colored clothing that will make you more visible to drivers.
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet and check your bike equipment.
- Backpacks should be tight on the upper back and not dragging on the rear tire.
- Obey traffic lights and stop signs.
- Ride on the right, going the same direction as traffic.
- Young riders should use trails, wide sidewalks, or low-volume streets.
- Always be alert for vehicles entering and exiting driveways and turning vehicles at intersections.
- Use appropriate hand signals to indicate turn signals.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County has a wealth of information for all cyclists, including trail maps, Bicycling Rules of the Road in multiple languages and a series of 30 to 60 second bicycle education and safety videos called "Bike Shorts." You can view all of those resources here.
Need a helmet? The Iowa City Parks and Recreation Department offers bike helmets to kids and adults for $12. Stop by the Robert A. Lee Community Recreation Center, 220 S. Gilbert St., and customer service would be happy to help you find the right style, fit and color.