Illinois enforced a stay-at-home order for its residents on March 21 to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. People are only allowed to leave their homes for essential activities such as grocery shopping or pharmacy visits. Officials have said that residents can also go outside briefly for some fresh air and exercise as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
There has been a drop in motor vehicle traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the empty roads can give rise to reckless behavior such as speeding drivers and pedestrians who do not use sidewalks. Whether you are running or walking around your neighborhood, local parks or nature trails, it is important to behave responsibly. Remember, rules of the road still remain the same. Practice these common sense safety tips to avoid pedestrian accidents:
- Observe social distancing. Try to keep a strict six-feet distance between yourself and others at all times. You may have to get off the sidewalk or cross the street if someone is approaching. Be cautious as stepping into the street to avoid crowded sidewalks can be dangerous. When walking in a group, do not take up the entire sidewalk. Move into a single file when someone passes by.
- Use sidewalks. Do not run or walk in bike lanes.
- If a park or trail looks crowded, try to go elsewhere. Consider running on quiet, residential streets or going outdoors during off-peak times like early mornings. Chicago officials are warning people to stay away from busy parks. Certain walking and running paths like the Lakefront Trail have been closed due to overcrowding.
- Runners should look out for bicyclists and drivers before entering the street. When jogging or walking on the road, make sure to go against oncoming traffic. Use crosswalks to cross the street. If there is none available, try to cross at an intersection when there is a break in traffic.
- Avoid distractions such as staring down at your cellphone while walking. This ensures that you are alert to your surroundings.
- Wear a face mask. People are being required to wear some form of face covering in public places.
Remember, stay home if you are sick. If Chicago residents fail to follow guidelines, they may no longer be allowed to exercise outside. In addition, disregarding basic safety rules can lead to pedestrian accidents that can cause serious injuries.