School Is Starting — Pay Attention on the Roads
The new school year is starting soon in Basel and surrounding cantons, and that means that school kids of all ages will be on the roads again, making their way to and from school by foot, bicycle, or scooter. Swiss school kids from elementary school on are encouraged to make their own way to school rather than be driven by their parents to encourage their independence and social interactions with their friends. In fact, in Switzerland, 65% of all children walk to school! And in contrast to many other countries, Switzerland’s extensive network of sidewalks, bike paths, and public transport system, that is a feasible and safe option in the vast majority of cases.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of things for drivers and parents to keep in mind to make kids’ way to school as safe as possible for everyone. And not just for parents or drivers, but for all adults—be an example of safe behavior on the roads and sidewalks!
For drivers on the road, you need to be aware that more kids will be on the sidewalks and streets in the mornings, around lunch time, and in the afternoons. And even with the best of training, they may step on the street or swerve on their bikes unexpectedly, so you need to pay extra attention. As a recent public service campaign in Switzerland said—children are unpredictable and can always surprise you!
Also, be prepared to fully stop at all crosswalks. Because it is difficult for a child to judge how fast a car is actually going, Swiss kids are taught to wait until the cars come to a full stop before crossing the roads. So if you see kids by the crosswalk, make sure to come to a complete stop rather than keep rolling slowly towards the crosswalk!
Parents can also do a lot to make the way to school as safe as possible for their children:
- If possible, start preparing your children and practicing with them before school starts, not just on the first day of school.
- Choose the safest route to school for your child—which may not be the shortest route. In Basel, an online tool—the Geoportal Basel—can help you identify the safest routes. Go to https://www.geo.bs.ch/mapbs.html, then click on the image for MapBS, which will lead you to a map of Basel (labeling is available in German, French, and English). On the left, you will see a drop-down menu of themes; choose “Military, security” and then from the resulting options “Getting to and from school safely.” For each intersection, colored triangles indicate how safe it is to cross the streets, with green indicating suitable crossings, yellow indicating slightly more demanding crossings (eg, crosswalks across wider streets with somewhat limited visibility), light blue indicating demanding crossings (eg, because there are trams crossing or no indicated crosswalks or traffic lights), and dark blue indicating crossings that are not recommended at all because they are too challenging. (https://map.geo.bs.ch/file_proxy/SS_Querung/Informationen_zur_Schulwegsicherheit.pdf)
- Practice the way to school with your child—either before school starts or by walking/riding the bike with them the first days of school until they are familiar with the route, crossings, etc.
- Ensure that your child leaves the house with enough time to get to school without having to rush. When they are in a hurry, they may pay less attention to the traffic around them or try to take shortcuts that can lead to dangerous situations.
- Ensure that their clothes and/or school bags are light in color or have reflective elements to enhance their visibilities to other drivers.
For more information, see https://going-to-school.ch/rules/.Share