San Diego, California - Spring is here, and though our winter was nothing to hide from, the season and longer days do turn our thoughts outdoors. Two events coming up encourage San Diegans to get out and spend more time on their bikes.

CicloSDias returns March 30, this time inviting cyclists to car-free sections of Pacific Beach. Then May 16 is the annual Bike to Work Day.

Though neither is a County event, both complement County efforts to promote bicycling and walking for transportation as well as recreation. That’s part of a larger goal of increasing physical activity in general, driven by this troubling statistic: More than 50 percent of adults and about one-third of children in San Diego are overweight or obese.

Active Commuting is a portion of Healthy Works, a campaign by the County and partners to work with the community and agencies on creating changes that prevent chronic disease through exercise, healthy eating and tobacco use prevention. Active Commuting involves various activities to make walking and cycling viable methods for getting to work or school.

As an example, with funding in part from the County, the San Diego Association of Governments is currently creating a regional bikeway corridor and local jurisdictions are being encouraged to plan, build, and promote travel choices for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“Walking and bicycling are a great way to increase physical activity,” said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, child health medical officer for the County Health and Human Services Agency. “These activities also help to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, save money, and reduce stress.”

Whether you walk or ride your bike regularly or wait for special events like those coming up, it’s important to take the following precautions to stay safe.

When bicycling:

  • Use the right size bike and adjust it to properly fit you
  • Use bike lanes or ride with traffic
  • Wear a helmet (it’s the law for anyone under 18)
  • Be visible, alert, and communicate your intentions
  • Use lights and reflectors at night (also the law)

When walking:

  • Identify a safe route to walk (especially for children)
  • Use crosswalks and avoid distractions (cell phones or other electronic devices)
  • Walk on a sidewalk, but if you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic
  • Be careful at intersections and look for drivers who may fail to yield the right-of-way
  • Be visible, especially at night (use a flashlight and wear reflective clothing)

“Parents should teach their kids the basic rules about being a pedestrian and model the behavior for them,” Sidelinger said. “Bicycle riders should become familiar with road rules and regulations.”

Healthy Works is a component of Live Well San Diego, the County’s ongoing initiative to improve the health and safety of area residents.