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.

Date of publication

Monday, August 16, 2021

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