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Opinion

Fri., July 8, 2011

Editorial: Road safety requires all to heed rules, be attentive

Most people understand that pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists must safely share the roads, because at some point their lives will intersect. However, there are some people who harbor the dangerous notion that the rules should apply to the others, but not to them.

Dennis Widener was riding his bicycle near Division Street and Garland Avenue in Spokane when he was struck by a brown sedan whose driver kept going. After two weeks in recovery, Widener, 66, died from his injuries on Wednesday.

Widener said he had looked both ways at the intersection, and always wore a helmet. But if others aren’t following traffic safety guidelines, collisions can still occur. That’s why it’s important for everyone to follow the rules, regardless of the mode of transportation.

Unfortunately, some people think of fellow travelers as obstacles or competitors.

It just so happens that the Spokane Regional Health District kicked off a traffic safety campaign this week, noting that 20 bicyclists or pedestrians are struck each month in this region. This educational effort includes a website called stickmanknows.org that aims to whittle that number by providing the rules of the road and listing common mistakes. Here is a sampling:

• “When a pedestrian is at fault for a collision with a motorist, the main reasons are the pedestrian failed to cross in a crosswalk or at an intersection, and not granting right of way to the vehicle.

• “When a bicyclist is at fault for a collision with a motorist, the two main reasons are the bicyclist did not grant the right of way to the vehicle and the bicyclist was traveling on the wrong side of the road.

• “When a motorist collides with a pedestrian the main reason is that the motorist failed to yield the right of way to the pedestrian.

• “When a motorist collides with a bicyclist, the primary reasons are the motorist’s failure to yield the right of way of the bicyclist and inattention of the driver.”

Regardless of the mode of transportation, each person is responsible for safety.

Pedestrians should make themselves visible and cross streets at corners or in crosswalks. Bicyclists should ride predictably and obey the same traffic signs and signals as motorists. Motorists must share the road and be attentive and patient with walkers, joggers and bicyclists.

If you’re not sure about a particular right-of-way situation or other traffic safety issues, try stickmanknows.org before venturing out. You may know where you’re going, but being informed on the rules will increase the odds of getting there safely.

To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on Opinion under the Topics menu.

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