While many cities and states have created bike lanes and laws that protect bicycle riders, bicycle riders are still at risk of being hit by a motorist.
Therefore, you still need to ride carefully, obey the laws, watch for other vehicles, and be prepared to stop and take evasive action.
Be aware of the traffic around you. Watch out for opening car doors, potholes, and children who may run in front of you. DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES OR TALK ON YOUR CELL PHONE WHEN RIDING A BICYCLE.
Stop at stop signs, check for traffic before turning, use correct hand or arm signals, and never ride out into a street without stopping first.
The brain is fragile and easily injured. Even a simple fall can cause brain damage that may leave you with lifelong problems.
Everyone should wear helmets; they are not just for kids. Wear your helmet correctly:
Your local sporting goods store, sports facility, or bike shop will be able to help make certain your helmet fits properly. You can also contact the American League of Bicyclists.
Throwing bicycle helmets can damage them around. If this happens, they will not protect you as well. Do not assume that older helmets, passed down from others, still offer protection.
Only experienced bicyclists should ride at night. Having the right equipment is essential.
The following equipment will keep you safer (in some states and cities, it is required):
Try to stay on roads that are familiar and brightly lit.
Placing infants in bike seats makes the bike more difficult to manage and harder to stop. Following certain rules increases safety, but accidents that occur at any speed may cause harm to a young child.
Following some simple rules can add to the safety of you and your child:
To be able to ride in a rear mounted bike seat or child trailer, a child must be able to sit without support while wearing a lightweight helmet.
Remounted seats must be securely attached, have spoke guards, and have a high back. A shoulder harness and a lap belt are also needed.
Young children should use bikes with coaster brakes -- the kind that brake when you pedal backwards. With hand brakes, a child's hands should be large enough and strong enough to use the levers.
Make sure bikes are the right size, rather than a bicycle "your child can grow into." A child should be able to straddle a bike with both feet on the ground. Children cannot handle oversize bikes and are at more risk for falling and other accidents.
Even when riding on sidewalks, children need to learn to watch for cars pulling out from driveways and alleys. Also, watch out for wet leaves, gravel, and curves.
Be careful to keep loose pants legs, straps, or shoelaces from getting caught in the spokes of the wheel or bicycle chain. Never ride barefoot, and avoid sandals or flip-flops.
Safety and prevention Bicycle safety: Myths and facts. healthychildren website, American Academy of Pediatrics.
Heads up. Facts for physicians about mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). US Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CS 109152.CS109152
Safety tips for bicyclists and motorists. California Department of Motor Vehicles. Reviewed 6/2011. Accessed September 1, 2011
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. 09/20/11Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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