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Winter walking safety tips

A Connecticut Avenue sidewalk in 2018. (Archive photo)

Getting out and walking—for exercise, to get to school or work, or to walk the dog—has become more frequent during the pandemic. Winter months pose extra challenges for pedestrians and motorists, and we hope these tips will help you, your loved ones, and your neighbors to stay safe when we have fewer daylight hours.

Pedestrian Safety

  • Pedestrians can help ensure their safety when walking by making some proactive choices: By wearing reflective or lighted clothing and accessory gear, as well as other safety practices, you can to be seen at night when the days are short during winter.  According to current crash data, many accidents involving pedestrians are due to dark clothing being worn by pedestrians. Besides making yourself more visible to motorists, you can even accessorize your dog to be more visible while out walking with you. We have put together a list of handy gear and clothing on the Bike/Walk Commission webpage that can help keep you safe.  Please try to cross the street at designated crosswalks. By remembering to “Cross at the green, not in between,” you lower the risk of a driver hitting you.

Property Owners Responsibilities

  • Property owners have a responsibility by Norwalk City ordinance to clear snow and maintain sidewalks on their property.  When sidewalks are not cleared of snow, pedestrians can be forced to walk in the street, raising the risk of danger.  Norwalk ordinance requires that property owners clear snow from sidewalks by twenty-four hours after the last snow flake falls.  It is also neighborly to consider using pet-safe and environmentally-safe salt (ice melt) to clear down to pavement and prevent ice accumulation on the sidewalk.  If a stretch of sidewalk is not cleared, you can report it to the Norwalk Click and Request app to help enforce the ordinance.  In general, sidewalks should be cleared of brush, leaves, and snow, and any obstacles that make walking hazardous for pedestrians to walk safely.

 

Motorists’ Responsibilities

  • With the shorter days and longer nights of winter, motorists need to be aware of pedestrians. Following traffic rules keeps everyone safe. Many accidents involving pedestrians are due to speeding and distracted driving.  This is especially the case on some of our longer, winding, narrow New England roads that don’t have a lot of traffic control measures to slow speeds.  Drive mindfully, safely and cautiously.  Remember, pedestrians have right-of-way.  Snowy conditions can narrow roadways or cover sidewalks, so motorists need to pay attention to pedestrians who may need to walk in the roadway. Please share the road.

 

We hope these tips are helpful.  Keep walking, NorWALKers! Take safety seriously, whether walking or driving, or caring for your neighborhood and home.

 

(Courtesy photo)

Gear to help night walks be more visible to others

(We thank Peggy Minnis, a member of the Pedestrian Committee, for researching and submitting this helpful list!)

For pedestrian safety

  • LED reflective belt (considered safer than a reflective vest)
  • LED sports arm, wrist or ankle band with flashing safety light
  • Thermal heat-holder socks
  • Heat holder mittens
  • Heat holder gloves
  • Hats with led lights
  • For dog safety:
    • Reflective dog collar, jacket, leash
    • Clip-on blinking lights

Audrey Cozzarin and Barbara Meyer-Mitchell are co-chairs of the Bike/Walk Commission’s Pedestrian Committee.

2 comments

BAS February 5, 2021 at 10:12 am

How about taking a ride down Flax Hill – a rather busy thoroughfare- and seeing HOW MANY sidewalks are impassable. We tried walking it yesterday- too dangerous. Where’s our greatest Mayor? The guy who ran on sidewalk reform.

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