I hope all of you read the front page stories in the past edition of the Peabody Gazette-Bulletin about the two children who came close to losing their lives when they got into trouble while swimming. One was in the beach area of Marion County Lake, the other at the aquatic center in Hillsboro. Fast action on the part of people who just happened to be there saved them.
I thought of those kids and their grateful families this past weekend. I was driving downtown, and grain trucks from area farms were trying to get their wheat to the elevator and then back to the fields as quickly as possible. It seemed that kids on bikes were everywhere! None of the bike riders I saw ever looked behind them or even acted as if they knew there was a possibility that several tons of steel and wheat might be bearing down on them.
I have never driven a grain truck, but it appears to me that it might be a bit tough to stop one in time to avoid a small child on a small bike weaving around in traffic. Most of the drivers gave the offending youngsters plenty of space, but a couple just maintained their speed and, I expect, hoped the kids would stay on their own side of Walnut Street.
Mom and Dad, maybe it is time to have a discussion about bicycle safety. Maybe it is time for you to travel the length of Walnut Street or Second Street to the park and pool and see how careless children can be. One little girl in my neighborhood enjoys flying hell-bent down the tall concrete driveway in the block south of me and across the street. I have seen her do it several times. She never looks before she sets the bike in motion — never. She scares me to death.
Summer is a wonderful time for kids. They should enjoy their freedom and be able to ride to the store, pool, library, park, or the Hub. But they need to be careful as well. Please talk to yours and be sure they understand that they need to pay attention to their surroundings. Tell them to stop at stop signs, look both ways at intersections, and not take chances.
Another area youngster was not as lucky as the two swimmers. An eight-year-old girl on a bicycle in Halstead was killed in the past week when the rear wheels of a semi-trailer hit her as it was going around a corner. The semi was going slowly, in town, and she likely didn’t understand those wide right turns and what happens to the rear wheels. The family and friends of that child will have months of grief and “if only” moments.
If you are a parent, take the time to help your children understand. If you are a driver, be aware of who is in front of you and who might be in your blind spot. Summer should be for fun, not for tragedy.
— Susan Marshall