By Melanie Speicher -

SIDNEY — The school bells are ringing for Shelby County students. Most have returned to classes with the exception of Sidney City Schools and Anna Local Schools, who will begin classes Tuesday, Sept. 3.

Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart is reminding motorists to watch out for students walking or riding their bicycles to school. And to the students, he asking them to obey the rules of safe walking and riding their bikes.

“If you’e walking to school you should be walking with an adult until you’re at least 10-years-old,” said Lenhart. “Parents should also map out a route from home to the school for the student to follow. And you might do another route that will take you away from high traffic areas.”

Students should always cross the street at the corner and obey traffic signals and crossing guards when they near the school.

“They should always walk on the sidewalk,” said Lenhart. “If there’s no sidewalk, then the student should walk on the left side of the road so they are facing the traffic.

“You should always look left, then look right and do it twice before crossing the street,” he said.

Lenhart recommends students wear light and bright colored clothing so drivers can see them.

“You should never walk out from between parked cars,” he said. “Always walk where the driver can see you. Make eye contract with the driver before crossing the street so they know you are there. If the driver is texting or talking on the phone, let them go ahead because they are probably not paying attention to walkers.

“And to you kids who are walking, stay off your cellphones,” he said. “Kids model their behaviour after their parents. So parents set a good example and don’t be on the phone while walking or driving.”

Walkers should pay attention to the safety lights which countdown the time until the light changes. Always give yourself enough time to safely cross the street.

“Make sure you have a safe spot on your walk to and from school,” said Lenhart. “The safe spot can be used if the student fees threatened or in case of inclement weather. The safe place could be a business or a friend’s house.”

Children riding a bicycle, scooter or skateboard must follow the same rules which a driver of a vehicle follows, said Lenhart.

“They must ride on the ride side of the street, going with the flow of traffic,” said Lenhart. “You should always look both ways before entering the street.”

The youth should also respect the traffic signals and stop signs.

“And they should use hand signals if they are turning,” said Lenhart.

Anyone riding a bicycle should also wear a bike helmet, he said.

“Sixty percent of people riding a bicycle who get hurt don’t have a helmet on,” said Lenhart.

Anyone riding a bicycle after dark or in the early morning hours before the sun is out should have lights and reflective tape on their bicycles.

“It’s easier for drivers to become distracted at night. And it’s hard to see bicycles at night,” he said.

In Ohio, said Lenhart, you should always pass a vehicle on the left side and be 3 feet or more from the vehicle, bicycle or walker.

Distracted driving laws also apply to people riding a bicycle, said Lenhart.

“In Ohio, a bicyclist can receive an OVI ticket because that’s in violation of the law. You can’t ride a bicycle if you’re drunk.”

Also, he said, bicyclists should come to a complete stop at red traffic signals and stop signs.

“Don’t do the Idaho stop, which is a running stop,” he said. “Also, everyone should be aware of the Dooring Law.”

This law, he said, states no person should open a car door if traffic is moving beside them — this includes vehicles and bicycles. The person in the vehicle opening the door cannot impede the flow of traffic.

By Melanie Speicher

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.

The writer conducts a weekly interview to update readers with news from the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, 555 Gearhart Road, Sidney.