Smart Tips for Winter Walking & Bicycling
Parents: Help your children dress properly, stay healthy, and travel safely during Maine’s winter months. Staying warm and dry will help your student focus and perform better in the classroom!
Dress for the Cold
- Add an extra layer: Teach your kids how to put together outfits with multiple layers, so they can remove one or two after they get to school. Make sure clothing is comfortable and easy to put on and remove. Be sure your child has a good place to store discarded layers during the school day so they can be put back on when it’s time to go home.
- Protect exposed skin: When winter wind and colder temperatures arrive, make sure kids are fully equipped with a winter hat, gloves, and a scarf to keep extremities warm. Make sure your children have appropriate shoes/boots to keep feet dry and warm.
- Get some traction – Sidewalks may be ice or snow-covered. Make sure children’s shoes or boots have ample traction to grip slippery sidewalks.
- Pack a backup – Consider packing an extra pair of socks or even a full change of clothes in your child’s backpack, in case he or she gets wet on the way to or during the school day. Proper snow pants and jackets can also help keep your child comfortable.
- The ultimate accessory: the water bottle – We don’t often associate cold-weather with dehydration, however our bodies don’t get as hot and sweat evaporates more rapidly in the cold dry air. Thus, we’re tricked into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly as a hot summer day. To avoid dehydration, make sure children are drinking plenty of water before, during, and after school – don’t forget to hydrate!
Walk and Ride with Extra Care
We encourage you to share these tips for students, staff, and families walking and bicycling to and from school – important in general, but especially during the winter!
Walkers and bicyclists should wear reflective clothing and bright colors, and use lights at night. Don’t dress like the side of the road: white clothing and snow are a dangerous combo!
- Walkers should always walk facing traffic when a sidewalk is not present.
- Walkers should make eye contact with motorists and make sure all traffic has stopped before crossing the road.
- Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflector or taillight at night, by law.
- Bicyclists must also follow all traffic laws: obeying stops, giving turn signals, riding with traffic (NOT against traffic), stopping for stopped school buses, etc.
Reminders to Motorists
For those of us who are also motorists, take special care with walkers and bicyclists during the winter months:
- Look out for pedestrians at all times. Be especially aware of those who may be forced to walk in the street because of snow banks.
- Yield to pedestrians entering any marked crosswalk. By law, motorists must give at least 3 feet when passing a bicyclist or pedestrian. Do not try to pass when there isn’t enough room.
- Be aware that bicyclists will sometimes need to take more of the driving lane because of snow banks and winter road debris.
- Refrain from distracted driving. Texting, talking on the phone and eating are all forms of distracted driving.
- Above all: pay attention and slow down in villages, neighborhoods, and school areas.