Winter is over here. The approaching March’s spring equinox is bringing sightings of yardwork, street cleaning and trips to the dump (waste-to-energy plant).
I was reminded today that spring’s impending arrival brings more people out in more modes as the temperatures rise — on foot, riding two-wheelers (bicycles, motorcycles, scooters), and driving construction vehicles. The things I saw on that short outing were less-present during winter and their spring emergence comes with a general increase in traffic induced by improving weather.
When people take spring walks or runs, they sometimes have dogs striding aside — just another of the many spring things for drivers and pedestrians to consider for defensive alertness.
I’m on all sides when it comes to safety — 4 wheels, 2 wheels, or 2 shoes, or 4 paws. But all sides don’t peacefully co-exist on the roadways because differing sizes, speeds, and lacking tolerance on all sides.
I’m not sure there will ever be total harmony among all entities — cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, pedestrians, pets, wildlife or whatever else ends up on our roadways. But I am sure that cars and trucks bear the ultimate responsibility for safety due to their disproportion of size in relation to other things they encounter. When that mass is coupled with their capable speed, any contact with smaller things is a mismatch.
The rights and responsibilities for things on roads are spelled out in motor vehicle laws. Sometimes, misunderstanding of these rights and responsibilities by all parties leads to trouble among them. Nevertheless, regardless of law or fault, physical contact favors motor vehicles.
So, though vehicle operators of all kinds may at times be fervent in their rights or right-of-way, it doesn’t make sense to press those rights to the point of causing or stepping into harm. A pedestrian has right-of-way in a crosswalk, but if a car doesn’t stop, that right is mute. Bicycles should not ride three-abreast, but a driver should not correct that infringement by running into one or more of the bikes.
Remember there is an implied crosswalk at every intersection even though painted markings may be lacking. Besides, while it is illegal for pedestrians to “jaywalk” in the middle of the road between intersections, it is still the responsibility of vehicle drivers (legally), who present the bigger threat, to avoid collisions with pedestrians wherever they appear.
We regularly need to accommodate the unexpected for successful driving. With spring’s arrival and the resultant new mix of road users, we must be tolerant and accommodating even to those users who aren’t fully compliant to be safe.
A final reminder about those trips to the incinerator — loads in pickups must be covered — that means tarps and tie downs! The Washington State Troopers roaming their Division 4 Headquarters in that area are well-versed in that requirement and are enforcing it. Also, vehicles “in tandem” (pulling trailer) are restricted to a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour.
The official March equinox for 2020 is on the 20th of the month. But the need for a renewed awareness of pedestrians, pets, bicyclists, motorcyclists and others by car and truck drivers is already here.
Drivers regularly state, “I didn’t see them,” when explaining truck/bicycle or car/motorcycle collisions. They were used to watching for cars and trucks — the unexpected appearance of a bicycle or motorcycle did not register in time to acknowledge them. Don’t let that happen.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.