The start of school is a natural time to ask motorists to be extra vigilant of pedestrians and bicyclists with whom they are sharing the road.
Young cyclists may not always pay as much attention as they should, and no driver wants to be involved in an accident that could seriously injure a youngster.
Unfortunately, in too many cases, some adult bicyclists in our community aren't setting a particularly good example for younger riders. Although they complain about cars and trucks not sharing the road, too many bicyclists aren't willing to do their part by adhering to standard traffic rules. They slide through stop signs and red traffic lights and don't properly yield the right of way at intersections and traffic circles. It's not fair to expect to be treated as equal traffic partners if you aren't willing to abide by traffic laws.
On the brighter side, it's gratifying to see so many bicyclists, both young and old, wearing helmets. A recent bicycle accident on a trail near Lake Shawnee in Topeka is a reminder of the importance of protective headgear. No motor vehicles were involved, but a bicyclist was killed when she collided head-on with another bicyclist on the trail. Law enforcement officials speculated that she hit her head on the paved trail when she was thrown from her bike. The other rider was hospitalized with serious injuries. Neither was wearing a helmet.
It seems likely that helmets might have made a critical difference in this instance and there are plenty of cases in which authorities believe they were the difference between life and death. They are an important bicycle accessory even when, as was the case in Topeka, bicycles aren't sharing the road with larger vehicles.
Cycling is a source of recreation and transportation for many Lawrence residents, and bicycle safety is a shared responsibility for motorists and cyclists. It's a year-round job, but the start of school is a good time to redouble our efforts to drive and ride with caution.