By Molly Wichman

The month of May is National Bike Month. According to bikeleague.org, “May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try.” While many celebrate National Bike Month, it is unofficially Walk and Bike Month.

May is a great time to get out and enjoy the town on your feet or bike. It’s important to take safety precautions when crossing the street. Walking and biking is the safest on sidewalks, trails, or paved bike paths.

Below are some Safety Tips for Pedestrians from the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

Be Safe and Be Seen: Make yourself visible to drivers
• Wear bright/light colored clothing and reflective materials.
• Carry a flashlight when walking at night.
• Cross the street in a well-lit area at night.
• Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars, or other obstacles before crossing so drivers can see you.

Be Smart and Alert: Avoid dangerous behaviors
•Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
•Stay sober; walking while impaired increases your chance of being struck.
•Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers; don’t just look at the vehicle. If a driver is on a cell phone, he or she may not be paying enough attention to drive safely.
•Don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals. Look before you cross the road.
• Be alert to engine noise or backup lights on cars when in parking lots and near on-street parking spaces.
Be Careful at Crossings: Look before you step
• Cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections, if possible.
• Obey traffic signals such as WALK/DON’T WALK signs.
• Look left, right, and left again before crossing a street.
• Watch for turning vehicles. Make sure the driver sees you and will stop for you.
• Look across ALL lanes you must cross and visually clear each lane before proceeding. Even if one motorist stops, do not presume drivers in other lanes can see you and will stop for you.
• Don’t wear headphones or talk on a cell phone while crossing.

This is the time of year when more walkers, runners, and bikers are taking to the streets. To ensure the best pedestrian safety, it is also driver’s responsibility to be aware of their surroundings, and pay attention to these individuals or families. Walking and biking can be a fun activity or mode of transportation. No matter your reason, just remember safety first!

Molly Wichman, a Lee’s Summit resident and member of the Livable Streets Advisory Board, a mayor-appointed, volunteer board whose goals include working to make our community and our streets more “livable,” safe and accessible for all of our citizens.