After crashes, bicycle advocates say Lincoln drivers need to be more careful

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Two bicyclists were injured last week there were struck by vehicles, including a 9-year-old who was hit by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

The Lincoln Police Department is still investigating that crash, which officers say happened when Chief Deputy Ben Houchin looked down for a “split second” to change the radio station.

The girls’ mother, Tiarrah Moton, said her daughter is recovering and has since returned home from the hospital.

She says doctors will be treating her for a while longer and she’ll have to go through physical therapy, but she’s expected to get better.

SEE ALSO: 14-year-old bicyclist injured after being hit by truck in south Lincoln, police say

Bicycle and pedestrian advocates such as Julie Harris with Bike Walk Nebraska say drivers need to be more careful.

“Looking down for a split second is the very definition of distracted driving,” she said. “We hear a lot, ‘That child came out of nowhere,’ or, ‘That bike came out of nowhere,’ and that just does not happen. People on bikes, children on bikes in neighborhoods do not appear out nowhere.”

Harris said to get more people to ride bikes, cities need to be more conscientious of cyclists and pedestrians.

“We need to make sure we’re making our roads safe for all users, not just people who drive,” she said. “We try to reduce those barriers, improve safety so that people are more inclined to get out and take some of those short trips not in car ’cause studies show that people want to spend less time in their cars; we just need to make it safe for them to do that.”

This week is Bike to Work Week in Lincoln.

And Stephanie Rouse with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department said there are several things that both participants and those behind the wheel can do to stay safe.

“Make sure you’re very visible, and keep your attention focused on what’s going on around you, wearing bright clothing,” she said. “As motor vehiclists, it’s really important to also keep an eye out for bicyclists that might be in the area, making sure when you’re turning to look both ways to make sure a cyclist isn’t coming and just stay alert.”

Aside from being better for the environment, Rouse said biking is also good for staying healthy and reducing stress.

“I really like the health benefits, not having to schedule extra time to do my workouts,” she said. “I can get exercise in on the way to and from the office. And the commute’s about the same, bike or car.”

There will be events later this week to encourage people to ride their bikes, including a celebration Friday evening at the Jayne Snyder Trail Center.

For anyone interested in bicycling in Lincoln, the city also has a map of trails and sidewalks that shows safe places to lock up your bike.

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