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Tips for Sharing the Road as We Head Back to School

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During the summer, I enjoy the lighter traffic on the roads in Vancouver. Not only does it take less time to get where I'm going, it also means that I can find street parking relatively easily. But as September approaches, that's all about to change.

Children and adults are headed back to school and that means more cars on the streets, more bikes on the streets and more pedestrians trying to cross those streets. So it's time for some reminders about being safe citizens and sharing the road.

If you're a pedestrian ...

  • Don't be glued to your phone! And if you wear headphones, make sure you can still hear horns, sirens and other warning noises.
  • Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Cross streets only at legal intersections or crosswalks (as tempting as it can be to jaywalk). Remember to look left, right and then left again before proceeding, even at intersections with pedestrian walk signs or at crosswalks with flashing lights.
  • Wait until traffic comes to a stop before crossing. Make eye contact with drivers to ensure that they see you before you cross.

If you're a cyclist ...

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet and make sure your clothing is cycling-appropriate (e.g. make sure pants are tucked in). Include some reflective tape or material on your clothing.
  • Take this opportunity to check that your bike is in good working order, especially the bell.
  • Be predictable to other road users by not weaving through traffic and by riding on the right hand side of the road.
  • Obey all traffic rules, signals and stops, including stopping at every stop sign and signalling your turns.

If you're a motorist ...

  • Stay alert! There are a lot more people in general on the streets in the fall, including new drivers.
  • Be aware of, and respect, speed limits, particularly within school zones (something you may not have been doing in the summer).
  • Know the rules about school buses! If a school bus is stopped with its lights flashing and sign out - you may not pass in either direction.
  • Don't drive distracted - your mobile phone can wait until you get where you're going.

We all just want to arrive safe and sound at our destination. As fall approaches, the days get shorter and the light gets lower. To stay safe, we all need to pay a little more attention and extend a little more courtesy to our neighbours and fellow citizens on the road.

Do you notice a change in traffic patterns when school is back in session? What kind of adjustments do you make to your commute? Let us know in the comments.

- Rose R.

Comments

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Cecile Lajoie

If a school bus is stopped with its lights flashing and stop sign out, traffic MUST STOP in both directions. Too many drivers do not seem to know this rule, or simply do not realize why this rule is important. It is about saving lives. When the school bus stops, children are embarking or disembarking, and some will be crossing the road.

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