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Spring brings motorcyclists, walkers and children on to the streets

Motorists need to take extra caution with the additional traffic, says Westlock Staff Sgt.
wes - motorcyle safety
RCMP are reminding drivers to be aware that spring more motorcyclists will be taking to streets.

WESTLOCK – RCMP are advising motorists to use more caution as double-digit temperatures means more motorcyclists and cyclists, as well as pedestrians of all ages will be taking to area streets and highways.

St. Albert RCMP issued a number of motorcycle safety tips April 12 after being called to their first motorcycle collision of the season April 9, while Westlock RCMP Staff Sgt. Al Baird went a step further saying drivers also need to be aware not only of increased motorcycle traffic, but bicyclists and walkers of all ages and sizes.

“The motorcycle safety is important, but around town there’s going to be a lot more bicycle traffic, especially at the dawn and dusk times, and drivers do need to be aware and watch out for them,” said Baird. “Similarly, people on bicycles should make sure that they’re visible with lights to the front and rear as well as reflective clothing. And I know it’s not mandatory for adults, but helmets are also important.

“And of course there’s more pedestrian traffic. Now is the time for drivers to be more vigilant.”

Baird said that cyclists also need to ensure they’re following the rules of the road — that means stopping at stop signs and signaling when appropriate.

“If you’re riding your bike you need to follow the rules of the road, same as everybody else. I think a lot of people think they can go wherever they want and not follow the rules,” said Baird.

“So for adults they need to be riding on the same side of the road as the traffic and as far over to the right as possible to keep themselves safe.”

Safety tips

The St. Albert release notes that to help prevent a crash with a motorcycle, drivers should scan intersections carefully and take an extra moment to look for them when turning left. 

Also, allow at least three or four seconds of following distance when travelling behind a motorcycle and plenty of lane space when you pass. Also, be ready to yield as a motorcycle is often closer than it appears to be as it can be hard to tell how fast it’s travelling.

Motorcyclists, meanwhile, should practice emergency braking and obstacle avoidance and do their best to stay out of a driver's blind spot. 

They also recommend motorcyclists watch drivers for clues and never assume they’ve been seen or will be given the right-of-way. Also they recommend using turn signals to let drivers know what you plan to do so they can anticipate your next move and react in time.

And whether you’re in a car, or on a bike, stay alert and avoid distractions that take your mind off driving or your eyes off the road and travel at safe speeds. 

George Blais, TownandCountryToday.com

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