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Tips for pedestrians, transit users and drivers

Fewer pedestrians and drivers are making their way to campus in these COVID-19 times, but winter weather can still make that trip more challenging.

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Campus staff are ready for winter’s elements.

So, while we here at Facilities stock up on de-icer and rehearse snow removal plans, help us out by reviewing these seasonal safety tips and preparing for how your journey around campus may be affected. And don’t forget to sign up for UW Alert to stay informed about any disruptions to normal operations.

The UW Emergency Management website is a great resource for winter storm general preparedness and the Seattle Department of Transportation also has a good winter resources page.

Campus walkways and stairwells can become slippery during inclement weather. Please give yourself extra time to get where you’re going. 

In the event of snow, Facilities staff maintain a Snow Removal Progress map, where you can see the status of specific campus roads and sidewalks. Conditions can change quickly, however, so you should always use your best judgment as well.

Observe boundaries and restricted areas. Do not attempt to cross areas of campus where caution tape, barricades or signage has been posted as these areas are notably slippery and dangerous.

Follow these tips from UW Environmental Health & Safety

  • Wear footwear with good traction and insulation. Avoid boots and shoes with smooth soles and heels. Consider using snow/ice grippers (such as Yaktrax) for your shoes.
  • Assume that wet, dark pavement areas may be slippery or icy.
  • Take shorter steps and walk at a slower pace.
  • Hold onto handrails when using stairs.
  • Do not do anything distracting while walking (such as using a phone).
  • Take special care when stepping in and out of vehicles.
  • Use extreme caution when stepping off curbs and walking up steep slopes.
  • Keep your hands free to catch yourself if you fall.
Transit and shuttles

During inclement weather, transit agencies will often operate on snow routes and schedules. Familiarize yourself ahead of time with these plans and sign up for alerts for your route so you know when and if your bus is on a snow route and/or is running late.

Get started by going to the alerts page for your transit agency: 

Transportation Services works hard to maintain shuttle service even during inclement weather, but staffing and safety conditions may affect routes and schedule times. Impacted shuttle services will be communicated on the Transportation Services website as information develops.

Follow our UW Shuttles Twitter page for rider alerts and subscribe to alerts for our most common routes:

Driving

Be mindful of ice (especially black ice), rain, fog, leaves, debris, oil, wet roadways and other slippery road conditions. Allow yourself more time to get somewhere and follow these safety tips: 
  • Slow down. Drive at a slower speed that is appropriate for the conditions of the road and your vehicle.
  • Give yourself plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you. It takes longer to slow and stop in wet and icy weather. 
  • If you find yourself hydroplaning, remain calm. Don’t brake or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas pedal until you can feel the road surface again. Brake gently to slow down further and gain even more traction and control.
  • Don’t use cruise control in adverse weather.
  • Check that your tires are safe, with adequate tread and proper inflation; consider using snow tires.
  • Turn on your headlights in low visibility. This allows you to see and keeps you visible to other drivers.
  • Carry extra supplies in your car to help you prepare for winter weather or emergency road closures, including the following: snow chains, a full tank of gas, first aid kit, cell phone charger, flashlight, water and snacks, ice scraper, jumper cables and flares. 

For additional winter driving safety tips, visit the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Winter Driving website.

Parking lots and garages can become especially slick during winter. It is important to use extreme caution when driving in lots and garages. In severe weather conditions, only certain levels of lots and garages may be open as our teams prioritize re-opening facilities across campus. If top levels of garages are closed, please observe this restriction, since the Transportation Services maintenance team deems it too unsafe for use.

The status of major parking lots and garages will be communicated on the Transportation Services website as information becomes available. Transportation Services also has other resources on its safety page.

Safe travels this winter, Huskies!