Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) has temporarily altered life as we knew it — we’re all operating under more stress and often in tighter quarters. With some of our communities currently under shelter-in-place orders, many of us now work remotely, while others still must venture out to provide essential services.
You might have already noticed that more people are walking around your neighborhood even as they practice social distancing. They might be walking their pet, running for exercise, or simply taking a stroll. Physical activity helps us regulate and reduce stress in our lives, and being cooped up at home is creating a natural inclination to get up and out and get some fresh air.
But with more people out and about, we have to be even more mindful to walk safely.
“We know more people are getting outside and walking during this time,” says TTI Associate Transportation Researcher Neal Johnson. “And just like you are keeping everyone safe and healthy through social distancing, we also want to keep everyone that is walking safe.”
Use sidewalks when available. Using sidewalks helps to keep you safe while providing a designated path for a quick stroll through your neighborhood.
No sidewalks in your neighborhood? Walk on the left side of the road facing (against) traffic.
Cross the street at an intersection or crosswalk and obey crossing signals. These designated locations offer more protection, along with improved visibility of pedestrians for motorists.
If you’re unable to cross at a crosswalk, yield the right-of-way to vehicles.
With daylight savings time, the days are longer, and working from home might tempt you to burn the midnight oil. But remember: take the time to get up from your work and get out for a walk when you have a chance. Just be aware of your environment, obey traffic laws, and stay safe.
Walking at night? Be sure to follow these safety tips:
Wear light-colored clothing. Light-colored clothing helps you stay visible to traffic and others out walking. Better visibility = more effective social distancing.
Consider wearing something reflective such as an armband or vest. Visibility is essential for safe walking at night.
Carry a light or engage the flashlight on your smartphone. Having a light with you not only keeps you visible to others but also helps you see where you’re going.
“Drivers need to do their part as well,” says Johnson, “by avoiding distraction, yielding to pedestrians, and being extra careful when it’s dark and harder to see pedestrians.”
We can flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic by following local authorities’ orders and the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control — stay healthy, stay home when possible, and social distance at all times. But becoming inanimate objects isn’t healthy, either. Take a walk and breathe in the sunshine—just be careful out there.