More than 500,000 Americans visit the emergency room annually due to a bicycle injury with children making up 59 percent of that number, government statistics show. And, each year, more than 670 people are killed while riding a bike. Yet, many Americans still don’t take bike safety seriously and aren’t aware of the steps they should take to prevent injury to themselves or others.
• First and foremost, make sure every rider has a properly fitted helmet to protect against brain injury.
• Make sure your bike is sized properly. Ideally there should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top bar when you’re standing directly over the bike, for mountain bikes you want 3 to 4 inches between you and the bar. In addition make sure your seat is level and allows for a slight bend in the knees when you’re sitting on it. Your handle bar should be level with the seat.
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated and test your brakes to make sure you’ll be able to stop reliably.
• If you have a small child who is still learning how to ride, consider installing training wheels to give your child added riding security.
Rules of the Road
• Ride in the street about 2 to 3 feet from the curb.
• Follow the flow of traffic and ride on the right side of the road.
• Use hand signals to help drivers, pedestrians and other bikers anticipate which direction you intend to go.
• Obey stoplights and signs; try to follow traffic patterns as if you were driving a car. Yield when merging into a larger street and always look before you turn or cross intersections.
• Try and ride in a straight line without zigzagging.
• If you’re facing oncoming traffic, make eye contact with drivers to ensure they are aware of your presence.
• Keep your eyes and ears open for cars, other bikers and pedestrians.
• Watch for parked cars. You don’t want to be caught off guard when some exits the car and opens the door right in front of you.
Side-Walks vs. Streets
Children under the age of 10 (or those who are still learning to control their bikes) should ride on the side-walk. Occasionally older children or adults will also choose to use the side-walk rather than ride in the street, but not all states allow bikes on side-walks so be sure to check your local laws first. If you’re permitted to ride on the side-walk it is still important to be alert so that you don’t inadvertently cause any biker/pedestrian injuries.
• Alert pedestrians that you are close by saying “Excuse me” or “On the right/left” or use a bell.
• If the side-walk crosses a drive-way or street, look both ways before crossing.
Staying alert and remembering the rules of the road can help you enjoy the outdoors without requiring a visit to the emergency room.
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