With public school starting the last week of August, the Gaithersburg Police Department offers these reminders to students, parents, motorists and bicyclists to ensure a safe and healthy school year:
Discuss with your family the safest route to school. Identify intersections with crossing guards and the route with the fewest street crossings. Avoid parks, vacant lots, fields and other places where there aren’t many people around.
Walk to and from school with a friend, neighbor, brother or sister.
Know your home phone number and address, your parent’s phone number at work and that of another trusted adult, and how to use 911 for emergencies.
Never talk to strangers or accept rides or gifts from strangers. A stranger is anyone you or your parents don’t know well or don’t trust.
Check in with a parent or neighbor as soon as you get home if you’ll be there alone after school. If you’re staying late after school or going to a friend’s house, get permission, and keep your parents informed about where you are.
If you see anyone doing something that makes you uneasy or you think isn’t right — a stranger hanging around the school, a bigger kid bullying a younger child, vandalism or graffiti — tell your parents, a teacher or trusted adult immediately.
Cross the street only at marked crosswalks and intersections. Obey crossing guards.
Before crossing, look left, right, then left again.
Use pedestrian pushbuttons.
Wait for the “Walk” signal to begin crossing the street.
Wear clothing that makes you as visible as possible, especially after dark and in inclement weather.
Parents, don’t drop children off in middle lanes. Pull over to a curb to allow your child to exit the car safely.
Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.
Slow down and obey the posted speed limit.
Use caution when passing stopped vehicles.
Look for pedestrians stepping out from between parked cars.
Share the road with bicyclists. Allow at least 3 feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
Wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time you ride. It is the single most effective way to prevent head injury. This applies to all ages.
You are considered a vehicle operator and are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
Ride in the same direction as traffic when cycling in the street.
If you are riding on a permitted shared side path such as a sidewalk, you are considered a pedestrian and should dismount and walk your bike at street crossings.
Increase your visibility by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn and dusk. When riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.
The following links may be helpful for additional information and resources:
MCPS Department of School Safety and Security
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Maryland State Highway Safety Campaign Booklet – Pedestrians, Cyclists, Motorists
Maryland Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety
Maryland State Highway Administration Bicycle Safety
Montgomery County Department of Transportation Bikeways
Council of Governments Street Start Campaign
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Bicycle Safety Videos
For more information contact the Gaithersburg Police Department at 301.258.6400 or visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov.