Share the road and be responsible
While Mother Nature tries to figure out that we should be experiencing more springlike weather now that March has come and gone, it is time to remind motorists that with warmer weather comes the increase of motorcycles and bicyclists on the roadways and that drivers — and motorcycle and bicycle operators, too — need to pay attention and act responsibly.
Last week, a 54-year-old Waldorf man was killed in a collision after the Honda Gold Wing motorcycle he was operating collided into the passenger side of a vehicle. Police report that the driver of the Honda Odyssey allegedly failed to yield to oncoming traffic while attempting to cross Route 5 and enter Roosevelt Place. The ac- cident is still under investigation, but police cited that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Last Halloween, in neighboring Calvert County, a 64-year-old Clarksburg man and his 58-year-old wife were killed while riding a tandem bicycle along a road in Chesapeake Beach. They were struck by a drunk driver on that mid-afternoon ride; the wife died at the scene and her husband died at a hospital.
While the two examples above show negligence on the part of vehicle drivers, there is also a recent, tragic example of where a motorcycle rider used poor judgment that ultimately cost him his life. On March 10, a Patuxent River Naval Air Station resident and another individual were speeding down Route 4 in Calvert County on sport bikes, at times reaching speeds of 130 to 140 mph. Police gave chase, attempting to stop the riders multiple times. Ultimately, the 20-year-old operator of a 2007 Honda sport bike struck the rear end of an SUV, and later died at a hospital. Following his death, there was an outpouring of condolences from those who knew him about how, other than his foolish decision to run away from police after being caught speeding, he was an overall good individual. He just made one fatal mistake.
We can share the road, those of us on four or more wheels along with those on three or less. Among other things, drivers should give plenty of space to motorcycle and bicycle riders, check all blindspots before changing lanes, and don’t drive at all on shoulders marked as bicycle lanes.
Motorcycle riders need to pay attention and obey all traffic laws. Too often have we seen men and women on sports bikes speeding down the roads, switching lanes with reckless abandon and weaving between tight spaces between cars. Remember: A helmet won’t protect the rest of your rather exposed body from a collision with a 2-ton vehicle or immovable object.
Bicyclists, too, should show proper judgment when cycling on the roadways, particularly heavily travelled ones, or those without a shoulder. Make sure you are visible and be aware of your surroundings. Also, if you are on a bicycle, you are beholden to the same traffic laws as those driving a vehicle. Obey them.
We can all enjoy the warm weather traveling through Southern Maryland. Let’s be mindful of others and avoid further tragedy by being responsible.