The start of the new school year means more people will be on the move. Starting next week, parents and grandparents will be hopping in their vehicles for school day drop offs and pickups. We’ll all see buses once again. Most have been parked since March when pandemic-related school closures first occurred. Hopefully we haven’t forgotten what those flashing yellow (prepare to stop!) and red (stop!) lights mean.

Students who live in close proximity to their place of learning will jump on their bikes or lace up their walking shoes. Here are some reminders on what we can do to make the school year commute safer for everyone, particularly bicyclists and pedestrians.

Here are some important and timely tips from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning:

•Give at least three-feet when passing bicyclists.

•Yield to bicyclists and pedestrians. In the case of bicyclists, do not underestimate their speed. This will help avoid turning in front of a bicyclist traveling on the road or sidewalk, often at an intersection or driveway.
•Stay alert and take extra caution at intersections, especially when making turns.
•In parking lots, at stop signs, when backing up, or when parking, search your surroundings for other vehicles, including bicyclists.

•Stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.

•Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.

•Make eye contact with pedestrians waiting to cross roadways.

•Be extra cautious when backing up—pedestrians can move into your path.

As the Safe Routes to School program notes, when youth can be assured of safe routes to their school buildings, walking or biking is an ideal and easy way for them to get the regular physical activity kids need and it can ease traffic congestion, air quality issues and much more.

Let’s make sure we do our part to make this Back to School season safer for everyone regardless of how they arrive for the first bell or head for home when the last one has rang.