Share the road and be re­spon­si­ble

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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.

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