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Heart of New Ulm promotes safety for people walking and bicycling

With warmer weather upon us, people of all ages are out walking and bicycling. The Heart of New Ulm (HONU) continues to promote these activities as part of a healthy lifestyle for both children and adults. Two HONU action teams — the Safe Routes to School Action Team (SRTS) and the Coalition for Active, Safe and Healthy Streets (CASHS) — are hard at work continuing to make improvements to the community’s physical environment to make walking and bicycling easier and safer.

“These two action teams work with city of New Ulm staff to incorporate design changes into their scheduled street reconstruction work,” said Cindy Winters, project advisor for HONU. “However, this year the city isn’t reconstructing any streets that have been identified as problem areas, other than the roundabout that is going in at North Highland Avenue and Oak Street outside the high school.”

In August 2017, the city commissioned a study for the N. Highland Ave. corridor and made the recommendation that a mini-roundabout be installed at the N. Highland Avenue and Oak Street intersection to improve safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Adds Winters, “We want to continue to help educate people on why it’s so important to drive safely and always watch for people walking and bicycling on all streets throughout the city.”

Beginning this spring, the New Ulm Police Department is working with CASHS and the SRTS action teams to step-up education and enforcement. They plan to have more officers out conducting random stops, as well as acting as crossing guards at various locations.

New Ulm Chief of Police Dave Borchert said, “We don’t want to see a repeat of the three crashes that occurred last fall, with two fatalities and one serious injury. When a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle the pedestrian always loses. We want to prevent those type of crashes from occurring.”

Stepping up education and enforcement efforts by the police department, Borchert explains “will help increase awareness of the importance of keeping your eyes on the road and paying attention to your surroundings while driving, bicycle riding and/or walking.”HONU offers everyone these quick safety reminders:

When driving:

• Scan the street for people walking, especially before turning.

• Watch out for people who are walking by giving them the right of way at all intersections, including intersections with or without marked crosswalks and stoplights.

• Pay attention to your surroundings and stop for those waiting at intersections so they may cross. Every corner is considered a crosswalk, whether it is marked or not. If someone has one foot in the crosswalk, it demonstrates their intent to cross the street.

• Slow down to save lives, not seconds. Only 50 percent of people will survive a collision with a vehicle traveling the speed limit. At 40 m.p.h., only one in 10 people will survive.

• Vehicles stopped for someone walking can proceed once he or she has completely crossed the lane in front of the stopped vehicle.

• Don’t pass vehicles stopped at intersections, allowing pedestrians to cross the roadway.

• Failure to obey the law is a misdemeanor. A second violation within one year is a gross misdemeanor.

• When passing a bicyclist, allow three feet or more distance.

• The car to the right always has the right of way (no matter whether they are north-south or east-west streets) on all streets involving uncontrolled intersections.

When walking:

• Be sure to obey traffic signs and signals at all intersections that have them.

• Use common sense. Don’t enter a crosswalk if a vehicle is approaching and it is impossible for the driver to stop.

When bicycling:

• Riding on the street is safer than riding on the sidewalk. If you are 10 years old or older, safety experts encourage you to ride on the street where you are visible and have room to maneuver.

• Ride with the flow of traffic. If you are riding against the flow, you are breaking the law and can be ticketed for it.

• Ride as far to the right as practical, which does not mean as far to the right as possible. Ride at least a minimum of 24 inches away from the road edge and away from the curb in the right wheel track of vehicles.

For more information on safe driving tips, watch HONU’s video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PS–7GWIDJ8.