RMH marks 2012 Virginia Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week

RMH Community Health is partnering with DRIVE SMART Virginia and Bike Virginia to make Virginia’s roadways the safest in the nation for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

Sept. 9-15 is Virginia Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week, and the organizations aim to raise awareness through an educational campaign encouraging road users to “Be Aware. Share the Road. Save a Life.” The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the responsibilities all road users have to keep roadways safe.

“A distracted driver is one of the most dangerous obstacles a bicyclist, runner or walker may face,” said Janet Brooking, executive director of DRIVE SMART Virginia. “Many of us are distracted when we’re driving. A lack of knowledge and risky driving behaviors contribute to crashes between roadway users. Taking time to learn about traffic safety laws and safety tips can save a life, especially with area schools starting back up and many students walking, cycling and driving on the roadways.”

Some shared responsibilities all roadway users should be mindful of are:

· Motorists and bicyclists should travel on the right side of the road and obey traffic laws and signals.

· Bicyclists should use lights, reflective clothing and wear a helmet.

· Drivers, avoid anything that distracts from the task of driving and obey the posted speed limit.

· Pedestrians must walk against traffic, use sidewalks and crosswalks and wear reflective clothing.

“In Virginia, it’s a good idea to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist. Drivers should slow down and wait to pass if there’s oncoming traffic,” said Kim Perry, executive director of Bike Virginia. “Bicyclists must know and obey all traffic laws also.”

In 2011, 81 people died walking or cycling on Virginia roadways and 730 cyclists and 1,712 pedestrians were injured.

Becky Johnston, RMH Health Promotion Specialist, works to promote safe walking and bicycling to and from schools with help from Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant.

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