Northern Nevada’s roadways and mountain terrain offers weekend warriors and laid-back explorers alike, endless places to explore by bike. But each year in the United States, there are approximately 800 deaths, 500,000 injuries treated in emergency rooms, and 1.2 million visits to physicians’ offices or clinics that are attributed to bicycling. Avoid being part of those numbers by following the safety tips below. Also, brush-up on your etiquette for sharing the road with autos and pedestrians.
Before you ride, every time, do an ABC Quick Check: Air in the tires, Brakes that work and Chain operating smoothly, and Check that the whole bike is working properly. And of course, always wear your bicycle helmet when you ride your bike.
Bicycle helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent and the risk of of fatal injuries among child bicyclists by 75 percent.
Correct fit and proper positioning are essential to the effectiveness of bike helmets at reducing injury. One study found that children whose helmets fit poorly are at twice the risk of head injury in a crash compared with children whose helmet fit is excellent. In addition, children who wear their helmets tipped back on their heads have a 52 percent greater risk of head injury than those who wear their helmets centered on their heads. Bicycle helmets have also been shown to offer substantial protection to the forehead and midface; it is estimated that universal use of bicycle helmets by children ages 4 to 15 could prevent more than 18,000 scalp and face injuries annually.
Child helmet ownership and use increases with parent income and education levels, yet decreases with the child’s age. Children are more likely to wear a bicycle helmet if riding with others (peers or adults) who are also wearing one. In a national survey of children ages 8 to 12, 53 percent reported that a parental rule for helmet use would persuade them to wear a helmet.
Getting the (rest of the) right gear
Stocking up on the gadgets and gear for an activity is part of the fun. Once you’ve made sure that your helmet is the proper fit and style for the type of riding you’re doing make sure that you’re riding a bike that’s the right size for you. Also, be seen! Ensure that you have a reflector on the front and rear of your bike; and that you are wearing fluorescent green, yellow or orange – preferably with retro-reflective materials sewn onto it. If you’re riding at dusk, dawn or when it’s dark you’ll need a light source, like a headlamp. You might consider investing in a special backpack to minimize loose straps and an ankle band to secure clothing.
Other rules of the road to remember:
When exiting a driveway, stop, look left, look right, look left again, and exit only when there is no traffic.
Ride on the RIGHT with the flow of traffic.
Obey all traffic rules including stopping at all STOP signs and all traffic lights.
Do not ride in the wrong direction on one way streets.
Use proper hand signals to indicate turns.
Ride single file.
Give the right of way to pedestrians.
Carry no passengers (except on approved baby seats).
For youth and adult helmet fittings, as well as bike inspections, visit a local bicycling specialty store or the the Bike Shop at Scheels.