The number of bicyclist injuries increased to an estimated 49,100 reported in 2012, which was an increase over previous years. Additionally, the number of bicyclists killed was a shocking 726 people. And although this represents only a fraction of folks who are killed in auto accidents (about 2% of that total) there is still a very real concern for safety when riding a bicycle on or near busy streets and intersections.
Here are some simple to follow and effective tips for safe bicycle operation:
- ALWAYS go WITH the traffic flow.
- Remember that a bicycle is more than just a toy. It is a vehicle.
- Wear a properly fitting helmet whenever riding. Your risk of a serious injury is reduced by 85% if you wear a well-constructed helmet.
- Adjust your bicycle for optimum fit. Make sure it is the proper height for you and that your seat is level from front to back. Be sure that you can access the operate the handbrakes comfortably.
- Make sure that your bicycle is in top operating condition. Check your tire pressure and make sure that your brakes and gears are working properly.
- Be sure that you can be seen by others…especially automobile drivers. Wear fluorescent, neon or other bright colors. You should also have reflective lights, tape or markings on your clothing or on the bicycle itself to be better recognized, especially at dusk or dark.
- Stay in control of your bicycle at ALL TIMES. Always keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Don’t carry items in your hands. Use a basket or backpack.
- Be mindful of road hazards. Rocks, gravel, debris, potholes, puddles, glass and even pedestrians on the sidewalk can all contribute to a loss of control of your bicycle and potentially send you into the path of an automobile.
- Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distracting behavior. Don’t listen to music so loudly that it can drown out the sound of a car horn honking or an emergency vehicle. Many injuries and deaths are attributed to a bicyclist swerving or simply riding into the street. Obey all traffic signals and crosswalk signs. Always cross at the intersection. Remember, if it’s jaywalking for a pedestrian, it’s not advisable for the bicyclist!
For more information about bicycle safety, visit http://www.NHTSA.GOV