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Editorial: Be aware of surroundings while out on the roads

As the weather gets nicer, more and more people are spending time outdoors. Whether it’s walking, running or riding bicycles, people are more likely to be taking advantage of the weather. It is critical that people — motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike — be aware of their surroundings.

There were reports on Thursday in Albert Lea of one pedestrian and one bicyclist who were hit by cars. Though the injuries were not severe, these incidents were a reminder of the importance of safety by all who are out on the road.

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 46 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists were killed in 2020. Likewise, more than 200 pedestrians and bicyclists received serious injuries in 2019 from crashes.

The department encourages drivers to scan the road and sidewalks ahead for pedestrians, to drive attentively and at safe speeds and to anticipate pedestrians, especially in urban areas and around schools and colleges.

Drivers should look in all directions for pedestrians before making a turn, stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection — even those without crosswalks or stoplights — and not block crosswalks while stopped.

Pedestrians should remember to cross streets at marked crosswalks or intersections instead of mid-block and obey traffic signals. They should make eye contact with drivers and ensure they see you and will stop. Pedestrians are also encouraged to use sidewalks when provided and to make sure to wear light colors if walking at night.

Bicyclists should ride the same direction as traffic, and motorists should maintain a 3-foot clearance when passing.

Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals the same as motorists, and should signal their turns in a predictable manner. Like pedestrians, they should wear light-colored or reflective clothing when it’s dark.

We ask that motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike keep safety a top priority as we all begin to enjoy a little more time outdoors.