Physical overuse can also causes bicycle injuries. These injuries can be prevented by proper selection, adjustment of the bicycle to the individual rider, maintenance, and common sense in how the bicycle is used.
- Appropriately-sized frames, handlebar and seat heights as well as understanding of gear systems help reduce injuries.
- Drinking enough fluids, stretching, and routine scheduled activity can help avoid potential injuries related to overuse.
Legislation Promoting Safety
Perhaps the easiest step a rider can take to prevent bicycle related injury and death is to wear a helmet. Unfortunately, many riders disregard this, placing themselves at great risk.
- Mandatory helmet laws have been shown to increase helmet use, which reduces significantly the incidence and severity of head injuries.
- Mandatory use of helmets has proven to reduce severe injuries by almost 85% in addition to cutting the number of bicycle-related fatalities.
- Children wear a protective helmet almost twice as much as adults. This is probably due to parental insistence. Nevertheless, younger children have a higher proportion of head injuries than older children.
- The majority of bicyclists (98%) report wearing a helmet for safety reasons-70% because of insistence of a parent or spouse and 44% because of laws.
- Simply owning a helmet will not necessarily insure safety. It must be used! Children should be monitored to be certain that they not avoiding helmet use because of peer pressure.
- It is important that your helmet fits properly and is worn correctly. A proper fit helps a bicyclist realize the full benefit of helmet use. A poorly fitting helmet will provide significantly less protection.
- Currently, only 17 states have laws requiring helmet use by young bicyclists.
- Local communities have enacted ordinances mandating use of helmets while bicycling.
- It is estimated that 13 million bicycles and 14-15 million helmets are sold annually in the US. There is added benefit for all helmet owners: Use your helmet during other activities with a potential for head injury such as scooters and water sports.
- Nevertheless, 98% of bicyclists killed in 1998 were reportedly not wearing a protective helmet.
- It is estimated that two-thirds of bicycle-related deaths could be prevented by the use of a protective helmet.
Safety in Off-Road Conditions
- Bicycle riding has evolved from a mode of transportation to a widely enjoyed hobby and recreational sport. Off-road riding and racing has certainly increased in popularity over the past decade.
- The majority of off-road injuries involve cuts and scrapes to the arms and legs. However, off-road or all-terrain cyclists sustain more severe injuries-such as fractures and dislocations-than road cyclists.
- In 1998 bicycling accounted for the largest number of sport-related injuries in Emergency Departments among middle-aged people.
- Off-road cyclists are more likely to wear a protective helmet and therefore less likely to have face and head injuries.