Staying alive on the roads while cycling after dark, traveling this holiday season

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Once again, please inform the bike riding public about safe biking in the dark. The night before last, I was driving on Mission Street toward Bay Street. The street was busy and full of slow moving traffic as usual at that time of evening. A person, with a long blond ponytail wearing a long black coat came riding along in the street. No lights on the front or back of the bike and his or her helmet was hanging on the handlebars. Oh, please! Fortunately, no one hit this person. Oh, why no light, no helmet, no safety stripes? Why the long black coat? This person completely blended into the night. Barbara Parker, via email A: Thank you for the reminder. Traffic safety grant lands in Santa Cruz County The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is the recipient of a $150,000 grant to combat handheld cellphone use and texting, particularly among teens and young adults. The agency will use the money, which came from California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to work with local law enforcement and other partners to reduce distracted and impaired driving. "Impaired driving includes not only being under the influence of alcohol, but other drugs as well, including marijuana," said Brenda Armstrong, manager of the county's Alcohol and Drug Prevention Program. "We want to get the message out to our youth and community that being impaired or distracted while driving is not worth the risk." County health also will direct a portion of the grant toward programs that seek to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities among bicyclists, pedestrians and child passengers. The goal is to increase road user compliance with traffic laws. What's more, the funds will provide child safety seats, bike helmets and bike lights to schools and other partners that work with low income residents. Holiday driving The holiday season is here. Thanksgiving is next week and winter celebrations are close behind. Please, don't get behind the wheel while intoxicated, drugged or tired. Designate a sober driver, call a taxi, spend the night at the party place or make other arrangements. If you see someone driving erratically, report them by calling 911. It is OK to use your cellphone to report traffic hazards and dangerous drivers. For those of you planning road trips, have your car checked out by a mechanic to make sure it is road ready. Things to look for include tire tread and air pressure, engine oil, working windshield wipers and wiper fluid, and radiator fluid. Also, make sure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Possibly buy an extra tank to hold a few more gallons depending on where you are headed. Once on your way to your destination, stop once every 100 miles to stretch, grab a refreshing beverage and eat a snack or meal. While this helps with driver fatigue, anyone feeling overly tired should stop driving. Either switch drivers or find a hotel or rest stop and take a catnap until you feel alert again. If you plan to get in on the holiday shopping sales, don't leave any visible packages in your vehicle. To avoid luring thieves, pack it in your trunk. Also, park in well lit areas if shopping at night, shop with a friend and carry your keys in your hand while walking to your car. Dear Street Smarts, Q: Once again, please inform the bike riding public about safe biking in the dark. The night before last, I was driving on Mission Street toward Bay Street. The street was busy and full of slow moving traffic as usual at that time of evening. A person, with a long blond ponytail wearing a long black coat came riding along in the street. No lights on the front or back of the bike and his or her helmet was hanging on the handlebars. Oh, please! Fortunately, no one hit this person. Oh, why no light, no helmet, no safety stripes? Why the long black coat? This person completely blended into the night. Barbara Parker, via email A: Thank you the reminder. Traffic safety grant lands in Santa Cruz County The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is the recipient of a $150,000 grant to combat handheld cellphone use and texting, particularly among teens and young adults. The agency will use the money, which came from California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to work with local law enforcement and other partners to reduce distracted and impaired driving. "Impaired driving includes not only being under the influence of alcohol, but other drugs as well, including marijuana," said Brenda Armstrong, manager of the county's Alcohol and Drug Prevention Program. "We want to get the message out to our youth and community that being impaired or distracted while driving is not worth the risk." County health also will direct a portion of the grant toward programs that seek to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities among bicyclists, pedestrians and child passengers. The goal is to increase road user compliance with traffic laws. What's more, the funds will provide child safety seats, bike helmets and bike lights to schools and other partners that work with low income residents. Holiday driving The holiday season is here. Thanksgiving is next week and winter celebrations are close behind. Please, don't get behind the wheel while intoxicated, drugged or tired. Desginate a sober driver, call a taxi, spend the night at the party place or make other arrangements. If you see someone driving eratically, report them by calling 911. It is OK to use your cellphone to report traffic hazards and dangerous drivers. For those of you planning road trips, have your car checked out by a mechanic to make sure it is road ready. Things to look for include tire tread and air pressure, engine oil, working windshield wipers and wiper fluid, and radiator fluid. Also, make sure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Possibly buy an extra tank to hold a few more gallons depending on where you are headed. Once on your way to your destination, stop once every 100 miles to stretch, grab a refreshing beverage and eat a snack or meal. While this helps with driver fatigue, anyone feeling overly tired should stop driving. Either switch drivers or find a hotel or rest stop and take a catnap until you feel alert again.  If you plan to get in on the holiday shopping sales, don't leave any visible packages in your vehicle. To avoid luring thieves, pack it in your trunk. Also, park in well lit areas if shopping at night, shop with a friend and carry your keys in your hand while walking to your car. Be safe. Be mindful. Enjoy the season of giving and giving thanks.
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