Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

Bike Riding Safety Tips for New & Experienced Riders

May is National Bike Month, promoted by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.

Whether you’re riding to and from work or leisurely tooling around the local bike paths, bike riding provides a kind of joy and freedom that’s hard to match. No matter how long you’ve been riding, the potential for injury is very real and always present.

In 2021, there were 299,944 non-fatal bike injuries in the U.S. That same year, 1,230 people died from bike accident-related injuries. Because bicycle-related deaths peak in the warmer months, now is the time to brush up on safety tips and rules of the road.

Here’s where to start:

Check Your Bike and Equipment

Always inspect your bike prior to riding.

• The seat should be adjusted to the proper height and locked in place.
• Make certain all parts are secure and working properly.
• Check that the tires are inflated properly.
• Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.
• A horn or bell, a rear-view mirror, and a bright headlight also are recommended.

Plan to Be Seen

Make certain drivers can see you.

• Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright clothing.
• Whenever possible, ride during the day.
• If you ride at night, wear reflective clothing and use flashing/strobing lights.

The Increased Hazard of Riding at Night
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most bicycle accidents occur between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and they occur more in urban areas versus rural ones. 

 

Wear a Bike Helmet

Helmets appropriate for bicycling should be worn by adults and children on every bike ride, regardless of length of the ride.

For a list of helmets certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, click here.

Follow these guidelines from NHTSA to properly fit the helmet:

• Adjust sizing pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug.
• Position the helmet level on your head, covering the forehead and not tipped backward or forward; this will be about one to two finger widths above the eyebrow.
• Adjust the side straps so they form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of your ears
• Center the buckle on the chin strap under your chin.
• Buckle and tighten the chin strap until it is snug; no more than one to two fingers should be able to fit between the chin and strap.
• When fitted, the helmet should not rock more than 1 inch side to side or front to back on your head.
For a video on how to properly fit a bike helmet, click here.  

Follow the Rules of the Road

Bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorists, this includes stopping fully at all lights and stop signs. Other rules to follow include:

• Ride single-file in the direction of traffic.
• Remain alert, keep your head up and look around; 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.

NOTE: Always follow local regulations on E-bikes—motorized bicycles carry more significant risk so safety equipment is of even more importance as is regular maintenance.

 

Sean Burns, MD, is the SVMC EMS Medical Director/District 12 Medical Advisor. 

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