Bicycling has a lot of great benefits. It can be a form of exercise. It puts less strain on your joints than running. Riding your bike can be an alternate to driving. It saves you money on gas and is better for the environment.
Bicycling is a fun activity. You can do it by yourself or with your family or a group of people. However, bicycling also has risks. Below are safety tips to follow when you are on a bike.
Path to safety
Some cities and areas are more bike-friendly than others. The number one way to avoid an injury is to pay attention to the people and things around you. This applies even if you have the right away. Other guidelines include:
- Protect your head. All children, teens, and adults should wear helmets, even on short bike rides. In fact, some states legally require you to wear a helmet. When you select a helmet, make sure it meets safety standards. Look for a seal from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), or Snell Memorial Foundation. Your helmet should fit snugly. It should not move once you’ve fastened the chinstrap.
- Guard your body. You can injure other parts of your body besides your head in a bike accident. Wear sports sunglasses to stop dust and bugs from getting in your eyes. Wear gloves to prevent blisters or injuries from flying debris. Wear padded shorts and get a padded bike seat to help reduce discomfort. If possible, wear clothing that covers your skin. This protects your body if you have a fall or crash.
- Know traffic rules. In general, bicyclists follow the same traffic rules as cars. Obey streetlights and signs, and ride with the flow of traffic. You should know the guidelines to follow with other bicyclists, as well. For example, how to signal when passing bikers, changing lanes, or turning. Learn who has the right of away: cars, bikes, or people walking. Try not to make sudden movements. Children under 10 years of age should never ride near traffic.
- Stand out. Wear bright clothing to make it easy for people to see you. There are lights and bells you can put on your bike. These help others see and hear you to keep you safe.
- Be smart. Follow all traffic rules and ride in the bike lane, if available. Avoid biking at night or in poor weather. This reduces visibility for you and those around you. Stick to paths that are smooth and obstacle-free. Stay in control and don’t ride so fast that you can’t stop if something happens. Avoid doing stunts on your bike.
There always is a chance of a bicycle crash. It may be a solo accident or a car collision. You may need to exchange personal and insurance information if there was damage. Check your state’s bike and motor vehicle laws. If you hit your head, a helmet will help absorb the force of the impact. Go to a doctor or hospital if you have signs of a concussion.
Things to consider
It is important to do regular maintenance and check ups on your bike. You can tune it or take it to a professional shop. Make sure there are no loose or broken parts. Check the brakes to ensure they work and the tires to confirm they are inflated. Install or replace reflectors, lights, or bells on your bike.
If you ride with a child, you need to use a special seat that fits behind the main seat. The child always needs to wear a helmet when riding with you. Make sure the bike has spoke guards to prevent the child's feet from getting caught in the spokes.
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.