Lee’s Summit has the noted distinction of being one of the most bicycle-friendliest communities in the nation having received a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists late last year.
Despite the merit, sometimes things happen.
Case in point: a Sept. 3 accident involving a 17-year-old on his bike who was struck by a motorist as he headed westbound in the westbound lanes of Colbern Road approaching Douglas Road He was struck from behind by a car traveling in the same direction.
According to Lee’s Summit Police officials, the driver indicated that due to the sunshine glare, she was unable to see the cyclist in the roadway.
The accident was the fifth one involving a cyclist this year and five cyclists were also involved in vehicle collisions in 2012. Perhaps some of the frays could have been avoided, but just as vehicle-on-vehicles accidents or other collisions, mishaps happen.
“I’m always pained by any of the stories like that,” said Ed Kraemer, an avid bicyclist, family physician and member of Lee’s Summit Livable Streets Advisory Board. The purpose of the board is to advise Lee’s Summit City Council on efforts to make streets in the city complete and safer for everyone. “I know that they are going to happen and we can do what we can to minimize them, but they are going to happen. I always try to reserve judgment and gather information, but as an advocate for safe use of our streets I try to look at it to see if there is some issue we can look at to make things safer.”
Lee’s Summit Police Captain Jim Green said traffic safety officers enforce traffic laws for bicyclists, motorcyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike. No one entity has more right on the road than the others, and Green said being mindful of others on the road can reduce the possibilities of an accident.
“Generally, we really emphasize that (bicyclists) follow the rules of the road,” Green said. “You go with traffic, you wear bright colors, and you wear a helmet. It’s all the stuff we teach the children, but as adults we don’t have to listen and set an example. The kids are riding on cul-de-sacs and sidewalks, while the adults are riding in the streets with the cars. Bike versus cars, who wins? The bigger car always wins.
“It’s education. Drivers have to understand that they have to share the road with cyclists. Motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, they share they entire responsibility.”
Craig Faith, chair of the Livable Streets Board said: “The police department is a real advocate for education and integrating bicyclists with motorists and laws of the road. They’re very big advocates and they are very proactive in educating the public as well as making the roads safer through enforcement.”
Kraemer said safety education is a key component for cyclists. Knowing safer routes is also imperative he said.
“One of the top areas of the board really is education and encouragement,” Kraemer said. “Encouraging people to get out and bike and walk, that’s my particular interests from a public health standpoint. At the same time, we need to make sure the risks don’t outweigh the benefits. We need to make sure we have a combination for people to safely ride their bicycles around town and walk and jog and that sort of thing. As far as the safety aspect, a lot of it is public education.
“For one thing, people sharing the roads in various ways need to know that we all have to obey the same rules of the road. At the same time, bicyclists have the right to use streets virtually all over the city, but people on bicycles have to obey the traffic laws just as if they were driving in a car. We do a lot of education about that and education about choosing safer routes.”
Faith said the city has a bicycle transportation plan on the city’s public works web page, and the plan includes bicycle transportation map for cyclists.
To view the map, cyclists are urged to go to www.cityofls.net, click on the Public Works link and click on publications and search for bicycle.
“If you look on the map there are further plans for road improvements in that area in order to make it a more livable street,” Faith said of the location of the Sept. 3 accident.
Green said: “You really have to go back to the basics of safety and pay attention to what you’re doing.”