Traffic safety is everyone's responsibility. Whether you are a pedestrian, a bicyclist, a scooter operator or vehicle driver, traveling around the city requires your constant attention and patience.
Various factors are working against those traveling local streets right now. First, it's the street repair and road construction season. That means traffic is going to move slowly or back up from time to time. When this happens a little courtesy and patience goes a long way. If traffic is moving slowly anyway, it won't matter much if you slow down to let someone merge into that single lane of traffic ahead of you.
And "almost" isn't good enough when it comes to traffic lights. We know you're in a hurry, but that doesn't mean you get to rush through that intersection after the light has changed - or ignore pedestrians when making a right turn on red.
With gasoline prices nudging $4 a gallon, many people are turning to alternate modes of transportation. There are always more bicycles and pedestrians out and about during the summer when children are out of school, but high gasoline prices are likely to drive the number of people on bicycles, motorcycles and scooters even higher in the months to come.
Keeping those two-wheel riders safe is a two-way street. People in larger vehicles need to keep an eye out, and those on bikes and scooters need to remember they aren't as easy to see and that they're expected to follow all the same traffic laws as people in cars and trucks. Perhaps the largest group of traffic violators in Lawrence are the bicyclists who fail to stop at well-marked intersections.
A mo-ped accident this weekend also was a tragic reminder that such vehicles offer little protection in a traffic collision. Wearing a helmet can be a life-saving act.
People probably are tired of hearing about it, but a word about distracted driving also seems necessary. It simply isn't possible to give your full attention to driving when you are eating a burger, talking on a cell phone or playing with your car radio. Even at 20 mph, your vehicle can travel quite a distance in the few seconds your attention is elsewhere. During that time, all kinds of things can happen. A car can shift into the lane in front of you or slow down to make a turn. A pedestrian who had escaped your notice can step into a crosswalk. A bicyclist can suddenly pop into your field of vision on the side of the street.
Watching out for one another is the key. Unfortunately, accidents still will happen, but let's redouble our efforts to try to keep ourselves and those on the road with us a little safer.