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En route to adult bike safety

Photo: Chris via Flickr

Though many educational efforts for bicyclists are aimed to help children, when it comes to bike safety, it’s not just for kids.

Adult cyclists aged 16 or over accounted for around 89 percent of bicycle fatalities in 2010. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cycling related deaths in adults have significantly increased in the past few years.

The key to becoming a safe and suave rider comes from preparing and protecting yourself if you want to prevail on the street.

Prepare
A key aspect to bike safety is visibility. Most car-bike collisions occur because the bicyclist isn’t visible to the driver. Wearing bright-colored or reflective clothing and making sure your bike has front and rear reflectors can help make sure that drivers see you. Never assume you are being seen by a car driver unless you make eye contact.

It is also important to make sure that the bike you are riding is the correct size and in good repair. Bikes that are too big make injuries more likely. Feet should be able to reach the ground and when they land on the pedal there should be a slight bend in your leg.

Wheels, handlebars and brakes should be tested to ensure they are properly working before use. Wheels must be properly inflated, straight and secure; handlebars should be firmly in place and easy to turn, and brakes should also be checked before riding.
By making any and all adjustments before actually embarking on a bike ride the risk of malfunctions occurring while out on the roads are lowered.

Protect
Wear your helmet! During the past few years, only about one in 10 fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets. Additionally, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets are proven to be 85-88 percent effective in traumatic brain injury in cycling crashes.

To ensure proper protection, your helmet must fit appropriately. It should be level on top of the head, about two finger-widths above the eyebrows and it should not rock back and forth or side to side. The strap should be buckled and snug under the chin. All helmets should have a CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) sticker, which guarantees the helmet meets the CPSC standard for safety.
For more information on helmet fit, go here and search for “bicycle helmet fit.”

Not only should you never get on a bicycle without a properly fitting helmet, you also should avoid riding with an old helmet. The average “shelf life” for bike helmets is five years. Helmets are like any other sporting equipment and should be replaced as they age.

Collisions may compromise the safety of a helmet, so if you are involved in a crash or your helmet hits the pavement, it should be replaced.

Prevail
Confidence, courtesy and the rules of the road are the best way to prevail on the roads….after you’ve prepared and been protected, of course.

Before heading out, know the rules of the road. Familiarize yourself with arm signals (arm straight out to the left means a left turn, an arm bent 90 degrees at the elbow signals a right turn), and if there are bike lanes, stick to them. If that is not possible, bikers should always ride in the direction of traffic. The risk of collision increases almost three times if you ride against the flow of traffic.
Happy riding!

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