Archive for Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Safe passage

Let’s redouble our efforts to make traveling throughout Lawrence safer for everyone.

July 15, 2008


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.


jonas 9 years, 11 months ago

logicsound: Don't forget Doomsday Devices. Enough, even, that you can part with one and still be feared.

jonas 9 years, 11 months ago

Explains why traffic is always so backed up on that side of town.

Julie Jacob 9 years, 11 months ago

I've seen more than enough drivers and bicyclists not abiding by the rules of the road. More often, I am most ticked by the bike riders because they put themselves in more danger than they ought to, tempting fate.Yesterday I was appaled to see a bike rider speed thru the 4 day stop at 19th & Miller, heading east on 19th. He had NO notion of stopping and almost got hit by the driver turning west onto 19th. Would it not have been for the drivers reflexes there would have been quite an accident.I've also seen a rider all week heading north on Massacusetts in the middle of the right lane. This rider makes no attempt to hang to the right side of the road and appears oblivious to the cars around them.

dirk 9 years, 11 months ago

If everyone would come to full stops at red-lights and stop signs, even if they are turning right, and look both ways before they go, and if the police would enforce the speed limits on Tennessee and Kentucky then this town would be a much safer place for all without raising any new taxes.

Thats_messed_up 9 years, 11 months ago

Yeah let's slow down Lawrence! Instead of going 9 mph under the speed limit, lets go 17 mph under the limit. Let's spend 40 minutes getting across town instead of 25. Let's make sure we hit 24 stoplights instead of just 16. Let's narrow all the fancy 4 lane roads down to 2 like Haskell and 31st streets where one car going 10 under holds everone else up. Uugghh

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

"...that they're expected to follow all the same traffic laws as people in cars and trucks."That is only true when cyclists choose to ride on the roads or if there is a path for the exclusive use of bicycles. Otherwise, cyclists follow the same rules as pedestrians. Is it too much to ask that the friggin' editorial board do a little bit of research before writing such tripe?"Perhaps the largest group of traffic violators in Lawrence are the bicyclists who fail to stop at well-marked intersections."Really? It's not the drivers who stop past the stop line or the many, many people who fail to use their turn signals - including nearly every LPD officer I have seen cruising through Lawrence in the last 20 years? It's not the people who toss their trash out of the vehicles making riding along the edge of the roadway an perpetual exercise in avoiding flats? It's not the wingnuts making rolling stops through four-way stops or the dozens of people who drive home every night with just one too many in their systems?Whatever. Just another example of the "fine" editorial work of the ljworld staff.Equus assini.

shlomoek 9 years, 11 months ago

On my bicycle: I used to ride anywhere in the lane and ride through stop signs, but then I got a ticket. Now I stop at stop signs and wait for my turn and I also wait for stop lights. I also bought those blinking lights for the front and back and ride over to the right as far as is comfortable. Next step helmet.

Julie Jacob 9 years, 11 months ago

FYI the rider on Mass was by the gazebo, so there were no parked cars to contend with.I do tend to give riders and walkers the benefit of the doubt and LOTS of extra room. Afterall, I am in a 2K pound car. But sometimes I just wanna give them whatfor!

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

"FYI the rider on Mass was by the gazebo, so there were no parked cars to contend with."Hard to justify riding down the middle of the road then, isn't it?

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

Riding on Mass requires riding out towards the lane. One must give room to the cars backing out of the spaces in order to avoid sudden maneuvers toward the middle of the road, which could result in a nasty accident.

Poon 9 years, 11 months ago

Nobody likes to drive in Lawrence. Nobody. The other Lawrence drivers hurt you, sometimes very badly. First you drive in Lawrence because your father wants you to. Then you drive in Lawrence to get the girls. If you keep on driving in Lawrence, you do it for scholarships, and to get the girls. Then you drive in Lawrence for the money and the girls. Then you get to just watch people drive in Lawrence, and that's fun. But nobody likes to drive in Lawrence. Nobody.My apologies to Ben Barteldes. He remains one of the greatest contributors to the LJW we have had in years.

hwarangdo 9 years, 11 months ago

Need we remind bicyclists that we too need to follow traffic laws just as if we are in a motor vehicle?! If you have not read those laws, please, by all means, get thee to a motor vehicle station and pick up a copy! Did you not know that? And cars, trucks, and anything that moves without two feet peddling - we too need to remember traffic laws. Just because a car is bigger than a motorcycle or bicycle doesn't mean we can drive like we own the street (well, some of us actually do own the streets ... just kiddin').Pay the heck attention! Any chance Lawrence could do what Ames, Iowa did years ago, and build bicycle trails around town (main streets) - like big sidewalks ya know - only for bicyclists not tiny cars ... oh well, just a thought.

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 11 months ago

It really is the gift that keeps on giving, Poon.

Poon 9 years, 11 months ago

I like to consider it to be the LTE that will never die :-)

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

"Stopping in nearly as dangerous as going through."Going through cautious maybe - not recklessly as has been alleged. I think the Idaho laws on the subject have merit. Idaho treats stop signs as yield signs and stop lights and stop signs for cyclists. But some responded to that suggestion with the objection that the locals were too stupid to be expected to know much less follow different traffic laws for bikes. I disagree, but then again I don't know that many stupid people."Because of the start up wobbly time it takes to have moving control and speed. If cars are around and a bike stops, it is then in a very vulnerable position while remounting, and starting to roll."Well, the key is to start riding in a higher gear so it's easier to peddle. This takes out any "wobble" you might have on starting. And don't dismount. :) This takes practice. As a kid, I learned this by balancing with the front tire towards a park bench, which allowed me to stabilize the bike when my balance went out. Now I just pop a foot free. At my age, it is better to partially dismount than tip over on asphalt. :)

Julie Jacob 9 years, 11 months ago

Logic, now THAT would be a waste of gas :) Thanks for catching my typo.

Trobs 9 years, 11 months ago

If only we had a series of tubes, ala Futurama.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

At a stop sign, I will often stay on the bike, moving only fast enough to maintain balance (somewhere between 0 an 1 mph.) I always yield to any cars who have the right of way, signaling them through if necessary. With most drivers, this works perfectly well. But occasionally, I've had drivers curse me because "I didn't stop," which I think primarily means I didn't put both feet on the ground as they expected me to do.I'm as pissed off as anybody when someone blasts through a stop sign or stop light on a bike, but I think it's incumbent on drivers to learn what it takes to ride a bike in traffic. A good bike rider always takes their turn, and will make eye contact to make sure that everyone understands who has the right-of-way. Just because a rider is skilled enough not to touch the ground doesn't mean they are "running" the light or the stop sign.

Baille 9 years, 11 months ago

"Need we remind bicyclists that we too need to follow traffic laws just as if we are in a motor vehicle?"That's not true, but Ames does have great infrastructure for bikes.

texburgh 9 years, 11 months ago

"Perhaps the largest group of traffic violators in Lawrence are the bicyclists who fail to stop at well-marked intersections."And your evidence would be...? Oh, that's right - it's opinion.My opinion is that "perhaps the largest group of traffic violators in Lawrence are the motorist who fail to stop at well-marked intersections, don't look right before turning right, race yellow lights, speed, fail to signal a turn, chat on their cell phones, text message, put on make-up in the rear view mirror, fiddle with radio dials, etc., etc."The truth is there are plenty of cyclists who violate traffic laws. But there are many many more motorists who do so. Safety is a two-way issue. Cyclists AND motorists need to follow traffic laws.The problem we have is that no one follows the rules. We are all in such a hurry to get nowhere that we are apparently willing to harm others to do it. Slow down, obey the laws, show courtesy, share the road. If we all do it, we will all live longer.

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