CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 7, 2019) – Students across the Carolinas are gearing up to bike to school Wednesday, May 8 for National Bike to School Day. According to the registration site, 163 schools in the Carolinas are planning to participate this year. The national event also takes place during Bicycle Safety Month, and AAA Carolinas reminds motorists and cyclists to practice safety and share the road.
National Bike to School Day allows children to appreciate nature and feel a sense of connection with their neighborhood and the rest of the community of bikers. The physical activity promotes healthy habits by getting children active. With families biking to get to school, the automobile traffic is reduced, which cuts back on air pollutants to make our atmosphere cleaner.
Additionally, the event was created to promote traffic safety. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities have occurred after school hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Approximately 815 students die annually and more than 150,000 are injured during travel between school and home – statistics that do not include special activity trips and other school related journeys.
National Bike to School Day hopes to curb these numbers teaching children the proper bicycling skills and reminding motorists to exercise caution and pay more attention to bicyclists as they share the road.
“National Bike to School Day encourages communities to focus on the benefits of bicycling while raising awareness for bicycle safety,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Children deserve a safe path to bike or walk to school and an event like this helps shed light on safety improvements that can be made to benefit the entire community.”
For those biking to school tomorrow, and for cyclists year round, AAA offers the following safety tips:
- Always wear a helmet when biking.
- Wear reflective gear if biking in the morning or evening. The reflective material shines off of passing car’s head lights.
- Stay in the bike lanes or paths as much as possible.
- Use hand signals when turning to alert vehicles behind you.
- Look both ways before merging, turning or crossing a road.
- Assume that drivers do not see you and behave accordingly.
AAA believes National Bike to School Day is a good time to remind motorists of these tips for sharing the road:
- Give cyclists their room – they have the same right to a lane as you do.
- Don’t drive distracted.
- Check the medians.
- Leave extra room between your vehicle and the cyclist.
- Do not engage with or honk at a cyclist as this may scare them into running off the road.
- Slow down – only pass when it is legal to do so and you have a clear view that there is no oncoming traffic.
If a bicycle-related crash does occur, remember, it’s illegal to flee the scene. A recent AAA Foundation report found that hit-and-run crash deaths are on the rise, and most (65 percent) of the victims of these fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists. Motorists involved in a bicycle-related crash should remain on scene, assist the injured and call 911.
In total, the entire community benefits from this national day in many ways including:
- Less traffic congestion
- Stronger sense of community
- New physical activity and healthier habits
- Safer streets
- Lower costs
- Improved accessibility
AAA Carolinas encourages every school in North and South Carolina to get involved with National Bike to School Day. School officials can see what other schools in the community have pledged to bike and can also register their school for the event at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/.
The first National Walk to School Day was held in 1997 and expanded to include biking to school in 2012. There is a separate date for each event, with National Bike to School usually taking place in May and National Walk to School occurring in October. The National Center for Safe Routes to School promotes the event for a variety of reasons.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.2 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.
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