Fun In The Sun: Guidelines for Cycling Safety

There are numerous reasons to ride bikes, from exercise to freedom and fun. It is also a much more ecologically sound way to get from place to place because they use no fuel and do not pollute the environment. Now that school is out, kids of all ages and their families have begun taking to the pathways and sidewalks all over the country and beyond. Unfortunately, approximately 500,000 people wind end up in an emergency room with injuries from bike accidents each year. Below are some tips to help ensure the most safe and pleasant excursions possible. 

Locations to Ride

Some of the best places for cycling are located where many others go for this activity, like bike paths near beaches and parks, and neighborhood trails. Because these areas are specifically designed for bike travel, they are usually safer than major thoroughfares where there is a lot of automobile traffic. In fact, unless you are a very experienced rider, try to avoid riding along major streets as much as possible. Cycling groups and organizations also have listings by region of good places to ride.

Trip Preparation and Safety

Much like a car road trip, preparing for bike rides is equally, if not even more, important. People on bikes are more vulnerable than when they are in a car. Therefore, plan ahead with an itinerary. Conduct research on the area in which you will be riding, such as estimating the times for heaviest traffic, predetermining the distance to travel, and deciding where and when you will take breaks for water and meals. Install bike racks on vehicles, and ensure that all bikes have properly inflated tires and adjusted brakes with well-oiled chains. Consider taking bikes to a local bike shop for seasonal maintenance, and carrying a tire repair kit.

Rules of the Road

Everyone who rides should know how to obey traffic signs and make signals. For instance:

  1. Do not ride against the flow of traffic.
  2. Use proper hand signals (these can be found at your local Department of Motor Vehicles).
  3. Avoid road obstacles like wet areas and leaves, puddles, curbs, rough surfaces, rocks and gravel.
  4. Most importantly, all bikers should always be aware of other bikers, pedestrians and vehicles and, if passing, notify the person out in front.

Accidents and Injuries

It is estimated that more young people aged 5 to 14 visit the hospital for bike related accidents than for any other sport. Many of those kids suffer and succumb from head trauma. If a bike accident should occur, the first thing to do is to get medical help as soon as possible. Some injuries are not apparent right away, so it is best to have the person, young or old, checked out at an urgent care facility.

If the mishap is caused by another party, make note of the circumstances, including time, location and others involved, and if possible, take pictures of the location, and bike. Similar to a car accident, victims may need this information to make an insurance claim, particularly if struck by a car. Also obtain the other party’s insurance information as well as contact information for them and any witnesses. If you are in New York, contact personal injury lawyers NY located to describe the situation and find out how best to proceed. Only a local lawyer will understand how to ensure that victims are properly compensated for their injuries and any damages.

Safety Precautions

To ensure that all bike riders have a safe experience, parents should ensure their children follow the safety guidelines listed below:

  1. Wear properly fitted helmets that meet Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.
  2. Ride bikes fitted with 1 to 3 inches between the rider and top bar so that feet are firmly on the ground while straddling the bike.
  3. Attach or wear reflectors.
  4. Dress in bright clothes and wear athletic shoes.
  5. Avoid clothing that may be caught in bike chains or wheels, such as loose pants or dangling straps, chains or shoelaces.
  6. Avoid carrying another individual or a heavy, awkward item.
  7. Stay alert, and not use headphones or cell phones while pedaling.

Biking activities are a great way for families to spend time together during summer vacation. Following the above tips can ensure a more safe and pleasant experience for all.

 For more information visit Cyclist Safety
Photo Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mobikefed/83541213/
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