Bike Safety Tips
Is bicycling a good exercise?
Yes, riding a bicycle is great exercise. It can help you get in shape and lose weight, and it can reduce the risk of health problems such as heart attacks. Bicycling puts less strain on your joints than jogging does, so bicycling is easier on your body.
What causes bicycle crashes?
Sometimes your mistakes cause crashes, and other times car drivers or loose gravel on the road are to blame. You are more likely to be seriously hurt if you run into a car or if you are riding fast. Children can be hurt while doing stunts on their bicycles. Getting your fingers or toes caught in the spokes or the pedals can also cause injuries.
What if I fall off my bike?
If you hit your head when you fall you should see a doctor, even if the injury seems minor.
What can I do to avoid injury?
The best way to protect your head and face is to wear a helmet. If you fall from your bike, a helmet will help absorb the force of the impact, sparing your head. All children and adults should wear helmets when they ride, even on short trips. This is now the law in some states.
When you select a helmet, make sure it meets government standards. Look for a seal from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or Snell Memorial Foundation. Make sure the helmet fits you snugly, and ask for help if you’re not sure of the right fit. Your helmet should not move from side to side or front to back once you have clasped the chin strap.
Here are some more tips for avoiding injury while riding a bike:
Parents should teach children basic traffic rules and make sure they ride in safe places. Children younger than 10 years of age should not ride near traffic.
- Wear sports sunglasses, which can stop dust and bugs from getting into your eyes.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing to make it easier for drivers to see you.
- Wear padded gloves to protect your hands from developing blisters or being injured by debris.
- Wear padded shorts and use a comfortable seat to reduce buttock pain.
- Avoid riding at night, and use appropriate lights if you ride during times of the day when visibility is poor or in weather conditions that reduce visibility.
- Always stay alert and look out for anything in your way.
How can I be sure my bike is safe?
It is always a good idea to make sure that everything on your bicycle is working correctly. Get in the habit of checking that the brakes are working, and be sure there are no loose or broken parts on your bike. Reflectors and lights make you and your bicycle more visible to car drivers in the dark. Consider taking your bicycle to a bike shop for a professional tune-up from time to time.
What about child-carrier seats?
If you ride with a child on your bicycle, you should use a special seat that fits behind the main seat. The child always needs to wear a helmet when riding with you. Also, make sure the bike has spoke guards to prevent the child’s feet from getting caught in the spokes.
- Bicycle-Related Injuries by MJ Thompson, M.B., CH.B., and FP Rivara, M.D., M.P.H.( 05/15/01, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20010515/2007.html)
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.