, Muskogee, OK

November 4, 2013

Let's be careful out there

— When we take to the roads, we are in danger.

When we drive a car, we also are a danger. We are operating a two-ton weapon, even if we have no ill intent.

When we take to the roads as pedestrians or bicyclists, the danger is dire.

Two fatal vehicular accidents in October involving a pedestrian and a bicyclist highlight the need for responsibility and caution.

The city has had 56 pedestrian-involved crashes from 2009 to 2012, an annual average of 14. Oklahoma Highway Safety Office statistics also show 20 crashes involving bicyclists in that time frame, an average of five per year.

Oklahoma law states that pedestrians should use a sidewalk when it is available.

Unfortunately, this community has few areas with good sidewalks.

If a person must walk in the road, state law says, the pedestrian must walk along the shoulder facing traffic.

The fact of the matter is that pedestrians will be in roadways. Bicyclists will be on the road. Both share that strip of concrete with hurtling, two-ton vehicles.

It is getting darker earlier now, making roads riskier.

Caution on all sides is essential in this dangerous mix.

Don’t be the driver on a cellphone, texting or fiddling with the radio when you should be watching the road.

Don’t be the bicyclist riding in dark clothing at night without a light on your bike.

Don’t be the pedestrian with earbuds in with volume cranked, walking with the traffic flow down the middle of the road.

Muskogee Police Cpl. Michael Mahan said both drivers and pedestrians need to remain aware on city roads.

“There are a lot more distractions these days with drivers, certainly with our phones and those types of things,” he said. “There are more distractions, so you should use more caution than you may have had to in the past.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Let’s be careful out there.