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Safety first! Bike program an ongoing focus as school gets underway

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From page A10 | September 10, 2013 |

0910 Ella bike artW

Ella Obegi sits on dad Joseph's shoulders at the corner of 14th and B streets near North Davis Elementary earlier this month. They posed under the artwork Ella created for the Street Smarts campaign. Courtesy photo

Davis kids are doing their part to remind both children and adults that following the rules of the road and remembering basic safety tips will keep everyone safe on the roads as the school year kicks off.

Colorful Street Smarts posters providing information and safety tips now adorn some 30 bus shelters around town and Davis schools boast new banners with similar reminders.

One of those banners was designed by North Davis second-grader Ella Obegi, who drew a picture showing a helmet-wearing child riding a bike.

“If you don’t wear a helmet and fall, you can get hurt badly,” she noted.

Ella’s drawing, submitted in last year’s Street Smarts poster contest, was one of several selected to help spread safety messages.

Discovering her artwork on posters around town was a big surprise, her mom, Amy Obegi, said.

“We were driving to gymnastics camp… when Ella yelled from the back seat, ‘My picture! I see my picture back there. It’s on a flag.’

“I did a U-turn to go back and see it,” Obegi said. “Quite a joyful and proud moment. We drove around town and found them in front of all the schools. It is a true delight for her and me to see her helping others be safe.”

In addition to Ella’s drawing, one submitted by fourth-grader Esther Sun is also featured on Slow Down banners at Davis schools.

Local artist Kyle Monhollen of the design firm 2407 Graphics designed the banners.

Meanwhile, seven new poster designs can be seen on 30 bus shelters around Davis, each promoting a different safety message to children and adults alike.

The artwork on the posters comes from Davis students Connor Tang, Wasanth Kumar, Anastasia Bates, Hyo Joon Ahn, Nathan Lee and Sean Kos and the posters were designed by art students from UC Davis.

The latest numbers on bicycling injuries and fatalities provide a stark reminder about the importance of those safety tips.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide in 2011 was 9 percent higher than the 623 fatalities the previous year.

Bicyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities and 2 percent of all injuries, the NHTSA reports.

Children and teens are particularly at risk: The 16-20 age group had the highest injury rate, the NHTSA reported, followed by the 10-15 age group. Children 16 and under accounted for 10 percent of all cyclists killed and 19 percent of those injured.

Nearly 70 percent of fatalities occurred in urban areas and nearly 60 percent at non-intersections, with the highest rate occurring between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m.

Under the guidance of Street Smarts program manager Rachel Hartsough, the city of Davis continues its focus on making the city safer for bicyclists, particularly children.

Safety audits were conducted at all elementary and junior high schools last year and results and recommendations from those audits will be presented to the community this fall.

In addition to presenting recommended structural improvements — for which grant funding will be sought — the public will be asked to weigh in on proposed safe-routes-to-schools maps designed for each school, Hartsough said.

“I think the maps will be really useful in helping families navigate safely,” Hartsough said. “It will also be a good way for kids to learn how to use a map.”

Hartsough said forums will be held at each school in the coming months and a communitywide forum will be scheduled as well.

The maps and related information will soon be on the street smarts website, http://street-smarts.cityofdavis.org/ and residents are urged to provide feedback, concerns and recommendations by contacting Hartsough at rhartsough@cityofdavis.org

“We encourage people to bring their issues to us,” she said.

The Davis Police Department also will be focusing on bicycle safety this school year with a number of programs planned for children, according to Traffic Sergeant Rod Rifredi.

Rifredi said each age group will be targeted with specific safety messages and the police department will partner with local theater groups and classes to produce age-appropriate bicycle, pedestrian and motorist safety videos that will be shown on local television and social media as well as in classrooms.

Police volunteers will be placed outside each school at different times throughout the year to identify children who are properly wearing their helmets and rewarding them with stickers for being safe. Children seen not wearing helmets, or not wearing them properly, will receive safety information related to the importance of wearing a helmet.

The police department also will continue holding the popular bike rodeos at elementary schools as well as developing programs for secondary schools.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net and 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @AternusBellamy.

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Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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