Spring means be alert for bikes

With the coming of spring and, one can hope, the end of our snow season, we need to be aware that bicycles and motorcycles will become more prevalent on streets and highways.

The recent accident in Wilton is a clear reminder that not everyone on the road is in a car.

We have no idea what happened in that fatal accident. That is something we will discover, as clearly as it can be discovered, once the police have finished their investigation – and as we learned about last year’s fatal driver-pedestrian accident in Lyndeborough, such an investigation can take many months. The police want to be, and need to be, thorough, so we might not know anything concrete for quite some time.

But that isn’t the issue at this very moment. That issue is this: We all must take care. Certainly, drivers should be aware that there are folks on the road on two wheels, and even, in many cases, walking on roads that sometimes seem too narrow for pedestrian safety.

We all have seen those bumper stickers “Motorcycles are everywhere,” the genesis of which was the number of bikers killed or injured in crashes with cars. The bumper stickers were meant to remind car and truck drivers that motorcycles aren’t always as visible as, for the same of argument, even the smallest four-wheeled vehicle.

There are no “Bicycles are everywhere” bumper stickers, at least none we’ve seen, but there should be. And “Pedestrians are everywhere” warnings, too, because we are a fairly health-conscious part of the nation, and we like our bike rides and our hikes, and there are those of us who do believe we have as much right to the roads as drivers of four-wheeled vehicles.

Legally, that might be true, but legality isn’t always the be-all and end-all of reality. Not every driver understands that when he or she comes up behind a bicycle rider, for instance, with another car coming the other way, rather than try to squeeze between that car and the bike, it’s wiser to slow down, let the approaching car go by, and then pass the bicycle rider. The loss in time will be scant seconds.

But a loss of life from getting too close is always possible.

We know that some drivers are arrogant, and there’s little we can do about them, but the rest of us can be careful and considerate and give bicycle riders, motorcycle riders and walkers as much room as possible. Don’t crowd them, don’t act as if it’s your road. Take it easy.

When spring comes, we all like to get out onto the road. It’s just that not all of us like to do it on four wheels.