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Bicycle Safety

Bicycle Safety Introduction

Bicycling is a common means of transportation as well as an increasingly popular source of recreation, exercise, and sport. With more than 100 million bicycle owners, the popularity of bicycling has reached an all-time high.

Along with increased use of bicycles comes the risk of significant injuries. According to national statistics, more than 1.8 billion bicycle outings occur each year, resulting in nearly 515,000 visits to emergency departments. Injuries related to bicycling range from common abrasions, cuts, and bruises to broken bones, internal injuries, head trauma, and even death. 

More than 700 bicyclists die annually, and 20,000 are admitted to hospitals. From a statistical standpoint, bicycle riding has a higher death rate per trip or per mile of travel than being a passenger in an automobile. The majority of bicycle deaths are caused by head injuries.

The most common cause of bicycle crashes are falls or collisions with stationary objects. 

Principles of Bicycle Safety

The best preparation for safe bicycle riding is proper training. Common resources for training include an experienced rider, parent, or community program. Often, however, initial training involves simple instruction from parents on balance and pedaling.

Proper supervision of younger riders is a must . In fact, it is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.

Early investment in safety equipment such as protective clothing and a helmet can prevent a significant number of injuries. Proper equipment safety preparation include:

  • Helmets - Extremely important
  • Reflective clothing for nighttime or low-visibility conditions
  • Bicycle safety equipment (reflectors on frame and wheels)
  • Proper bicycle selection
  • Proper bicycle maintenance

Consider these ideas to help further reduce the risk of a bicycle accident.

  • A bicycle should only be used in a way that's appropriate for the age of the rider.
  • A bicycle rider needs to have the proper experience and skill before riding on public roads.
  • Less experienced bicyclists should learn the rules of the road.
  • Both bicyclists and motorists need to understand how to safely and courteously share the road.
  • Both motorist and bicyclist need to observe the proper speed limits, yield right-of-way, not drive while drinking.
  • Bicyclists need to be aware of their surroundings. Watch for opening car doors, sewer grating, debris on the roads, uneven surfaces, and poorly lit areas.

Obeying traffic rules can help ensure safe travel.

  • Cyclists need to follow the same rules as motorists. 
  • Always use correct hand signals before turning.
  • Ride in single file with traffic, not against it.

Use these guidelines to increase cycling safety:

  • Avoid major roads and sidewalks.
  • Announce your presence ("On your left") on bike and walking trails as you come up behind and pass pedestrians and other riders.

Enforcement and legislation can increase bicycle safety. Promote safety by supporting

  • The mandated use of protective devices (helmets, reflectors)
  • Bicycle-friendly community and community planning, for example establishing bicycle lanes and bike trails or rails-to-trails

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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