Published: Sept. 15, 2023

Fall scenic

Summer is in our rearview mirror. The temperatures are starting to cool, and the days are beginning to get shorter. Both are signs that the fall season is near. 

While safety should be top of mind all year-round, there are some things that we should be even more mindful of in the autumn season. Here are some safety tips from Off-Campus Housing & Neighborhood Relations for the upcoming fall evenings. 

 Keep the lights on and lock up whenever you’re not home 

Each day this September, the sun is going to set about two minutes earlier than the day before. This means that by the end of the month, sunset is going to be before 7 p.m. It will set even earlier in October, and then when daylight saving ends in November, our days will only be 10 hours long with sunset before 5 p.m. 

With the evenings getting darker earlier in the day, it’s important to turn indoor lights on when you’re home in the evenings and to leave your porch light on at night. And as always, keep your doors and windows locked at all times of the day, no matter how long you’ll be gone for.  

You can help keep your roommates and friends accountable too. As you and friends head out for the next home football game or that fall colors hike, double check that everyone locked their doors behind them. It’s a good idea to check that your car is locked as well.  

 Stay safe walking or cycling at night 

Take extra precautions if you’re walking home from class, work or extracurricular activities late. Here are some safety tips from the city of Boulder for pedestrians

  • At a crosswalk, only cross when the "start crossing" symbol is on. It's illegal to enter a crosswalk when a steady "don't walk" symbol or flashing red hand symbol is on. If you are close to an intersection with a traffic signal, you must cross at the crosswalk. 
  • Where a sidewalk ends or where there are no sidewalks, walk on the outside edge of the roadway, facing traffic. 
  • At intersections, make sure motorists have seen you before you step off the curb. Don't assume they will see you or stop. 
  • Wear light-colored or reflective clothing, especially in stormy weather or at night. Carry a flashlight at night to see and be seen. 

If you bike around campus and Boulder, practice these safety tips: 

  • Wear a helmet anytime you ride. Wearing a helmet protects your head from serious injury. Talk to your local bike shop or one of the CU Boulder bike stations to see if your helmet fits properly. 
  • Always stay on the right side of bike paths and bike lanes. 
  • Pay attention to signage on bike paths and throughout campus for dismount zones, where riding your bike is prohibited. 
  • Ride slowly around pedestrians and give them space. Pass on the left and ring your bell or say “on your left.” 
  • Signal your turns, just as you do when driving a car. A left arm straight out signals a left turn, and a right arm straight out signals a right turn. 
  • Don’t drink and ride. Colorado’s DUI statute includes bicycles under its definition of “vehicle.” You can get a DUI for biking under the influence. 
  • Boulder requires all cyclists riding between dusk and dawn to ride with a mounted front light and rear red reflector. 

 Store your bike properly 

96% of bikes stolen on campus use a cable lock or no lock. Instead, use a high-quality U-lock to keep your bike safe. Ensure the lock goes through your bike's frame, not just the front wheel. Thieves can easily remove a front wheel and take the rest of your bike. If you don’t have a U-lock, you can trade in your cable lock at one of the bike stations during business hours for a free U-lock. 

For the 2023-24 academic year, the UMC Bike Shelter (secured bike parking) is accessible to anyone with an active Buff OneCard. This is to help alleviate limited bike parking outside the UMC due to the Hellems renovation project. Bikes are not to be left in the shelter overnight. 

You should also register your bike, which allows the police to track down stolen bikes and gets you access to free maintenance at the bike stations. CU Boulder does require bike registration for all bikes parked regularly on campus. It’s preferable and easy to register your bike at the TLC or Folsom bike stations. You can also register online. Then, your serial number will be in the database. You can pick up your registration sticker from a campus bike station later. 

 Be mindful when planning outdoor activities  

Fall is a popular time to enjoy outdoor activities since the changing leaves provide some of the best views. Remember to hike or climb earlier in the day than you would have planned in the summer since the sun will be setting earlier. 

Also, make sure to check the weather before setting out on your adventure. The temperatures are cooling in Boulder and are even colder at higher elevations. Snow is possible in September in certain areas. Be prepared for less-than-ideal weather by dressing in or packing layers. 

Know that the weather in Colorado can change in an instant. Fall can still be a high-risk time for wildfires in Colorado. Pay close attention to fire restrictions and bans (including bans on smoking cigarettes and marijuana) that may be in place in the Boulder area and throughout the state.   

No matter what time of year you’re hiking, remember to let people know where and when you’re hiking, and make sure to bring your phone in case of emergencies. The city of Boulder has more information on trail safety tips on their website

 Be bear aware 

Most Colorado bears are active from mid-March through early November, according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife. As their hibernation period gets closer this fall, bears will work hard to get the calories they need.  

You can help deter bears by: 

  • Not feeding the bears, and not putting out food for other wildlife that attracts bears. 
  • Being responsible about trash and bird feeders. The city of Boulder has a city ordinance that requires trash to be secured in bear-resistant trash cans or carts for residents in designated areas within Boulder. Residents within the secure trash implementation zone, including students living in rental units, should be provided with retrofitted bear-resistant trash cans/carts from their trash disposal company. Learn more about the city of Boulder's Bear Protection Ordinance
  • Keeping all bear-accessible windows and doors closed and locked, including home, garage, and vehicle doors. Don’t leave attractants such as snacks, food wrappers, gum, or even scented hand lotions in your car, and don't leave pet food outside your home. 
  • Calling 911 if you see a bear on campus. Stand still, stay calm and let the bear identify you and leave. Talk in a normal tone of voice. Be sure the bear has an escape route. If you see cubs, their mother is usually close by. Leave the area immediately. 

By taking these actions, you’re not only deterring the bears, but also helping to keep them safe. 

Additional resources 

CU Boulder offers various resources to help you stay safe this fall season. Visit CU Boulder Police for safety support, resources and reporting options.