Bicycling is one of the best ways to stay in shape, see the sights, save money on gas and reduce pollution. The benefits are well-known to cycling enthusiasts and local leaders nationwide who have created bike-friendly communities, complete with paths, special bicycle parking areas and other conveniences.
Bicyclists must take extra precautions when they ride. They often share the road with vehicles, which creates a host of hazards, but injuries can happen even on a designated path.
Did you know in 2015, bicycles were associated with more injuries over all age groups than skateboards, trampolines, swimming pools and playground equipment combined?
Use Your Head, Protect Your Noggin
Cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of head injury by an estimated 60% and brain injury by 58%. That statistic makes sense when you consider the first body part to fly forward in a collision is usually the head, and with nothing but skin and bone to protect the brain, the results can be fatal.
Helmets must meet federal safety standards and should fit securely. This National Highway Traffic Safety Administration video offers instruction on how to properly fit a helmet.
Follow These Rules to Keep Safe
- Get acquainted with traffic laws; cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists
- Know your bike’s capabilities
- Ride single-file in the direction of traffic, and watch for opening car doors and other hazards
- Use hand signals when turning and use extra care at intersections
- Never hitch onto cars
- Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder
- Wear bright clothing and ride during the day
- If night riding can’t be avoided, wear reflective clothing
- Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes
- A horn or bell and a rear-view mirror, as well as a bright headlight, also is recommended
Maintenance = A Smooth Ride
Like automobiles, bicycles require routine maintenance to keep them operating properly. Get into the habit of cleaning and inspecting your bike on a regular basis. You can make minor adjustments on your own, but it may be a good idea to use a local repair shop for more complex problems.
Keep coaster brakes—the kind you operate from the pedals—lightly oiled. Hand-brakes have brake calipers that contract to apply the pads to the rims. For optimum performance, keep your rims clean. When not in use, the pads should just clear the rim. Brake levers that touch the handlebars are in need of adjustment.
Ensure the bicycle frame is intact and that no braces, screws, bolts or brackets are loose or missing. Rusted, bent or broken metal could result in a puncture wound or other injury.
Reflectors are essential for increasing visibility and should be located on the bike’s front, rear, sides and pedals. Replace any cracked or worn reflectors as soon as possible.
Keep tires inflated to the correct pressure marked on the tire wall. To locate a leak in a flat tire, fill the inner tube with air, place the tube in water and watch for any air bubbles. Replace worn or damaged tires.
Turn your bike upside down and spin the wheels. They should spin evenly without rubbing the forks or the frame. Replace broken spokes to avoid any safety hazard. Tighten spokes evenly to prevent wheel wobbling.
10 Smart Rules to Bike Safety
Protect Your Head | Wear a helmet.
Stay Visible | If drivers can see you, they are less likely to hit you. Use lights when biking at night or in low-light conditions.
Look, Signal & Look Again| Use hand signals to let drivers and other bicyclists know where you’re going. Look and make eye contact. Don’t assume drivers will stop.
Stay Alert | Keep a lookout for obstacles in your path.
Go with the Flow | Bike in the direction of traffic.
Act like a Car| Drivers are used to the patterns of other drivers. Don’t weave in and out of traffic. The more predictably you ride, the safer you are. Check for traffic. Be aware of traffic around you.
Don’t Get Distracted| Don’t listen to music or talk on the phone while riding.
Obey all Traffic Laws & Lights
Assure Bicycle Readiness | Is your bicycle properly adjusted? Is your saddle in a comfortable position?
Do a Quick Bicycle Test| Check your brakes and your wheels. Make sure that “quick release” wheels are properly secured.
National Safety Council | http://www.nsc.org/
AAA | http://exchange.aaa.com/
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