Kids are back to school and September is “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month”

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

Gov. Ralph Northam has officially proclaimed September as Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month in Virginia.

The designation is part of the Virginia Drive Smart’s “See and Be Seen” campaign and comes just in time for back to school season.

Organizations should use the awareness month “as an opportunity to remind everyone that safety on the road depends on mutual respect,” officials said in news a release

In 2018, statistics from the Virginia DMV showed 123 pedestrians and 13 bicyclists were killed on Virginia roadways while 707 bicyclists and 1,878 pedestrians were injured in that same period. 

“The 123 pedestrians who were killed in collisions with motor vehicles last year comprised 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the Commonwealth,” reads the proclamation signed by Northam.

Spokespeople from the Virginia Beach Police Department took to social media ahead of the new school year and noted “over 25,000 students are injured each year due to car crashes inside of school zones.”

Among being cognizant of posted school zones and speed limits, police urged drivers to put their phones down while driving.

In Norfolk, officers will be present in and around school zones to remind residents to “heighten awareness of children on sidewalks,” officials from the Norfolk Police Department said in a news release,

“We are going to be visible in the school zones to remind parents, motorists and everyone in our community that our children’s safety before, during, and after school is paramount,” said Norfolk Police Chief Larry D. Boone. “Our objective is to encourage drivers to drive slowly and to remember bus safety rules.”

They also said parents should talk to their kids about the importance of using crosswalks and looking both ways before crossing the street.

Virginia Drive Smart also reminds pedestrians to wear reflective clothing and walk, jog, or run on the side of the road facing traffic while bicyclists should use lights, reflectors, and wear bright clothing to be more visible.

For more information about Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Month, click here. 

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.