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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 580,000 visits to Emergency Departments. Injuries attributable to bicycling range from common abrasions, cuts, and bruises to broken bones, internal injuries, head trauma, and even death.

  • Almost 800 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 most common cause of bicycle crashes is due to falls or collisions with stationary objects. Collisions involving motor vehicles account for 90% of all bicycle-related deaths and 10% of nonfatal injuries. The majority of these bicycle deaths are caused by head injuries.

Principles of Bicycle Safety

  • Bicycling training: The best preparation for safe bicycle riding is proper training.

    • Common resources 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 prerequisite. In fact, it is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.


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

    • Helmets - Extremely important

    • Reflective clothing for nighttime or low-visibility conditions

    • Bicycle safety equipment (reflectors on frame and wheels)

    • Proper bicycle selection

    • Bicycle maintenance

  • Bicycling safety guidelines: Consideration of these ideas can further reduce the risk of a bicycle accident.

    • Use a bicycle only in a way that is appropriate for the age of the rider.

    • Be aware of the need for experience and skill before bicycling on public roads.

    • Less experienced bicyclists should be educated about the rules of the road.

    • Be aware of the understanding among bicyclists and motorists about sharing the road.

    • Promote and ensure safe motorist and bicyclist practices (proper speed, yielding right-of-way, not driving while drinking).

    • Teach increased awareness of surroundings. (Beware of opening car doors, sewer grating, debris on roads, uneven surfaces, poorly lit areas.)

  • Obey traffic rules.

    • Cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists. Use correct hand signals before turning.

    • Because we are all sharing the same road, obeying the rules of the road will allow for an enjoyable and safe ride for both bicyclists and motorists.

  • Ride in single file with traffic, not against it.

  • 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.

    • Mandating 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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