On Sunday night, an 11-year-old boy was struck and killed by a vehicle while riding his bicycle in southwest Bakersfield. It's an unfathomable tragedy for the child's family and a startling reminder that we all play roles in preventing traffic accidents. Although no two incidents are exactly alike, there's one route we can't stress enough: education, and lots of it.

It may seem overbearing -- and to adolescents, downright dorky -- but it's helpful to reiterate a few bits of advice that are critical for nighttime cycling safety: Always wear a helmet. Dress in light-colored clothes. Use a bike headlight. Attach blinking lights to your bike. Place reflective decals or highly visible tape on your tire rims, shoes and helmet. And, of course, obey all traffic rules.

The onus also falls on local drivers, who must remember to always keep a defensive, diligent eye for pedestrians and cyclists. We can significantly cut down on vehicle-bicycle and vehicle-pedestrian deaths in this community by paying closer attention and traveling with a little more focus. We share the roads, and we share the responsibility.