Take note, kids are going back to school

Central Florida schools resume classes this month and that means it’s time for a refresher course on street safety for children on foot and bikes. OK, parents, please grab a pen and notepad and take notes. There will be a quiz immediately following this lecture.

Before school starts, map out the route your schoolchildren will follow to and from the bus stop, or to school on foot or bike.  Walk/ride the route with your children several times before school starts, as well as the first few days of school. Make sure they are familiar with the route and understand safe/proper street crossing techniques before allowing them to go out on their own.

Furthermore, teach your kids to:

  1. ALWAYS walk on sidewalks when possible. If no sidewalks are present, walk against the direction of traffic so they can see oncoming vehicles.
  2. Use marked bike lanes or trails set away from traffic.
  3. ALWAYS look left, right, left (and over their shoulder for turning vehicles) before stepping/riding into the road, even if they have the signal to proceed.
  4. Cross only, when possible, at designated school crossings and/or at marked crosswalks.
  5. Wear reflective materials and/or bright clothing if they’re walking/biking in darkness, and carry a flashlight. If they’re riders, make sure their bikes are equipped with a headlight and rear flashing light or reflector.
  6. ALWAYS wear a bicycle helmet when they’re riding. It’s required by law for bicyclists under 16. Click here to learn how to fit a bike helmet securely and comfortably.
  7. Put away headphones and cell phones while biking or walking. They need to be able to hear oncoming traffic, car horns, sirens, and be aware of their surroundings.
  8. Walk and bike with friends, when possible.
  9. Not succumb to peer pressure to take risks. Tell them to encourage their friends to follow the same safe walking/biking practices so everyone is on the same page.
  10. Carry in their backpacks a list of important phone numbers in case of emergencies.

There are some myths you should dispel while you’re teaching your kids to be safe out there. For example:

  • MYTH — A green light means it’s safe to cross.
  • FACT – Not necessarily so. Motorists don’t always obey signals. Tell your kids to look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for moving traffic, and then cross ONLY if it is safe to do so while still looking left and right. Tell them to watch out for cars making right turns on red.
  • MYTH — If they see the driver, the driver sees them.
  • FACT — The driver may not see them, or a stop sign or red light. Tell them to make sure the driver stops before they cross the street at a crosswalk.

If your children are bus riders, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles offers an extensive list of safety tips that you should review.

OK, class, instead of giving you a quiz we’re going to let your children put you to the test. Good luck!

 

 

Spotlight on Stop lights – National Stop on Red Day 2017

 

Green means go, and red means stop – it’s a simple fact. But sadly, in 2015, 771 people were killed and another 137,000 were injured in red-light running accidents.

August 11th was National Stop on Red Day, and Best Foot Forward, along with Florida Department of Transportation, Orlando Police Department, and City of Orlando, partnered with the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR), to raise awareness about the dangers of running red lights. This group of 25 people met at the busy intersection of Orange Blossom Trail and W. South Street in Downtown Orlando, holding signs stating to “ALWAYS STOP ON RED.” Comments abound from drivers, walkers and bikers about cars blowing through red lights every day – including one gentleman that witnessed a one just moments before.

NCSR is an organization with a mission to save lives and educate communities on the dangers of red light running, as well as advocate for red-light cameras at intersections. NCSR’s president, Melissa Wandall, feels a personal commitment to the organization, as her husband was tragically killed in a red light running accident 13 years ago.

While it’s great to get the message out on a day like National Stop on Red Day, remember – every day is stop on red day. Drive safe, be aware and always #StopOnRed!

Putting our best foot forward at back-to-school events

It’s that time of year again… back-to-school. Love it or hate it, Orange County students, parents, teachers and administrators are gearing up for the 2017/18 school year. To do our part, Best Foot Forward (BFF) and our partners at Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive and the University of Miami’s WalkSafe program were making the rounds to Back-to-School fairs to make sure families have the information they need to arrive safely.

Here are some photos and highlights from the events:

Commissioner Siplin’s Family Wellness Fair

Long lines snaked out of the front door of Barnett Park Gym to enter the first back-to-school event of the season, Commissioner Victoria Siplin’s Family Wellness Fair.  More than 1,000 area residents received free school supplies and valuable information to ready them for the school year with a goal of staying healthy.  BFF and Walk-Ride-Thrive staff and volunteers gave away bicycle helmets as fast as they could fit them on 120-plus students planning to ride their bikes to school.

“I couldn’t believe how many people came to the event and picked up tips and helmets from us,” said Michele Ruth, a nurse and BFF’s newest volunteer.  Her husband, Orlando Police Lieutenant Richard Ruth, even jumped in to lend a hand.

 

MicheLee Puppets’ Back-to-School Bash

Between two entertaining and educational puppet shows, BFF spoke with attendees about walking and bicycling safety and fitted helmets at MicheLee Puppets’ Back-to-School Bash at the Maitland Civic Center.  Approximately 185 Maitland-area residents showed up for the show plus Kid-IDs, health screenings, free backpacks and information on bicycling and walking to school safely.

Commissioner Nelson’s Back to School Fair

BFF had the most crowded table in the gym at Commissioner Nelson’s Back-to-School Fair.  Kids were excited to be able to receive new helmets, and BFF couldn’t fit them fast enough! Numerous children said that they ride their bike to and from school, and most did not own a helmet. Parents were grateful to be improving safety of their kids and the community. Coloring books were a huge hit with the kids, and both kids and parents were interested in pedometers to keep them fit and healthy this upcoming school year.

Commissioner Thompson’s Back to School Fair

Commissioner Thompson’s 7th Annual Back-to-School fair has become one of the best attended in the county with more than 1,300 parents and children picking up free backpacks and back-to-school supplies.  BFF was pleased to take part in it again this year providing bike/ped safety information and bike helmet fittings. Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive provided the helmets and BFF provided the staff, volunteers and lots of educational and fun safety information.  Hundreds of stickers, new FDOT comic books and coloring books in Spanish and English brought smiles to both parents and children.

Commissioner Bonilla’s Back to School Fair

The Goldenrod Magic Gym was the place to be Saturday, August 5 in Orange County District 5 as Commissioner Bonilla hosted her first Back-to-School Fair.  Parents, children, volunteers and even Commissioner Bonilla danced and sang as they picked up back-to-school supplies, took advantage of free health screenings and were fitted for helmets from BFF and Orange County’s Walk-Ride-Thrive.  BFF volunteers reminded everyone to watch for and yield to people walking as children make their way back to school next week.

Orange County Council of PTA/PTSA Presidents and Principals Breakfast

BFF lent a hand to the University of Miami’s WalkSafe and BikeSafe staff to discuss the importance of having pedestrian and bicycling safety curriculum in schools to an audience of Orange County PTA presidents, principals and district officials.  The Florida state-approved curriculum is currently taught in several OCPS schools, but most everyone we spoke to agreed that all children need these life-saving lessons.

 

To see all of the fun photos from these events, check out our Flickr account!