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Guest blog post: how to stay safe while walking and biking

As the Safe Routes to School coordinator, I love seeing kids and families out on bikes and walking throughout the year. During the summer, it is no exception. Kids enjoy independence and will be out riding their bikes to the pool or walking to a friend’s house. Walking and biking are ways to get families moving and a great way to spend time together. Here are some top summer walking and rolling tips:

Family biking or walking: Try taking a family walk or bike ride to the grocery store, the little league baseball game, out for ice cream or to the neighborhood park. If you are walking on a trail, count the number of birds you see. If you are out biking with small children, bring snacks and water, and take breaks often.

Know where to walk or ride: Many communities have some great family-friendly trails. Fox Cities Greenways along with local municipalities have put together a great trail map that can be found at http://www.focol.org/greenways/newtrails.html. Find trails to walk and bike with your family in your local community.

Walk left, ride right: When walking, always walk on the sidewalk. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic. Bicycles should go with the flow of traffic.

Wear bright colors: It’s important for you to see the cars around you and for them to see you. Always wear brightly colored clothing to make you more visible to the people driving by.

Look left, right, left: When crossing the street, stop and look left, then right, then left again before you step into the street. Cross only at marked crosswalks or at corners.

Always protect your head and wear a helmet: Let your child help choose the helmet. Explain that a helmet is “just part of the gear,” as it is with football, racecar driving or hockey. Praise your child for wearing his/her helmet. Be a role model and wear your bike helmet.

Before heading out for a bike ride, do the ABC Quick Check:

A is for Air – Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

B is for Brakes – Check to make sure your brakes work and that the pads are properly stopping the tire.

C is for Chain/Crank – Make sure that your cranks bolts are tight and your chain isn’t slipping.

Quick: Check all of the quick releases on your bike. The quick release can be found on the hub of your tire; your quick release should be engaged at 90 degrees. It locks it in place. You also have brake quick releases that ensure that your brakes are re-engaged.

Enjoy spending time with your family and friends: Walking and biking with your family or friends is a great form of exercise and it is a fun, low-cost activity.


Melissa Kraemer Badtke is the Safe Routes to School Coordinator, a program that encourages and enables students Kindergarten through 8th grade to walk and bike and school, for the Regional Safe Routes to School Program at East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission. She serves on the Steering Committee for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the Board of Directors for Fox Cities Greenways. Melissa is a mom of two boys and an avid runner, biker, and kayaker. 

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