Kingman letters: Be a-lert out there

Spring is here and that means more bicycles on the roads.

Two weeks ago I came upon an accident on Andy Devine: Car vs. bike. The gal on the bike was a bloody mess. Being a lifelong bicycler born and raised on my BMX in Los Angeles in the 1960's and continuing my two wheel commutes to college in Sacramento, and now in Kingman, I know how to stay safe out there.

My notes here are for both the auto AND bike driver. One of my best driving instructors put getting behind the wheel and pulling into traffic very simply: "Drive no faster than the speed limit, slower when weather or road conditions warrant it, and look upon all other drivers - pedestrians - and bicycle drivers as the enemy willing to risk their lives to hurt you." Conversely, bike riders do likewise - see all others on the highway as a menace to society!

A couple of suggestions for auto pilots regarding driving safely: When at an intersection or coming out of a parking lot, look both ways on road and sidewalk. Since I am on my bike every day in Kingman, this is probably my No. 1 hazard to avoid - the driver only looking for his/her chance to merge into traffic, when they get the opportunity, they gun it. Tunnel vision: Too easy to focus only ahead and miss what is going on at the peripheral vision. The driver habit should be to continually scan the road.

With this in mind, how many times has a kid bike rider darted out from just beyond a parked car oblivious to the auto going 30 mph? Driving with cellphones in service or thinking of other serious matters seems to be the normal operating procedure these days. Too bad we can't see the results of the ugly consequences of these behaviors.

For the bike rider, take every one of the examples from the previous paragraph and apply them to you. At intersections, look both ways and assume the car waiting to merge does not see you, even if they look you right in the eyes. Bike riders with their own tunnel vision. Cars darting out in front of you, and you had no warning. Bike rider wearing head phones with the iPod blaring away. Think about Adrian getting hit by the freight train. Same thing can happen on a bike on the road.

There are many more hazards out there on the asphalt and concrete high -peed obstacle course, such as operating a moving vehicle at dusk. When the sun goes down, everything looks grey and tends to blend together. Turning on lights early is better than later. And bike riders at night with no lights on is not a good thing. Think of your own near misses or hits and learn from them.

I think for now this review of careful driving will suffice. Safe driving is cautious driving. I've known too many macho young race drivers who sped down the road and hit a little old lady crossing the street or clipped a bike rider. And I know too many BMXers who think they are invincible. EMS and hospital emergency room staff know the bloody truth.

Be a-lert out there on the roads. Kingman needs more lerts.

David Sweetland

Kingman