Safety Tips for Bicyclists to Avoid Being Injured
Riding a bicycle is one of the most popular hobbies among both kids and adults. Apart from cycling for fun, some people use bicycles as their primary means of transportation; others use them for fitness while others participate in competitive cycling.
However, even with its fun and health benefits, bicycling comes with its risks. Riders may fall accidentally or get into accidents with other cyclists, vehicles, and even pedestrians. Depending on the extent of the accident, injuries can range from non-severe to deadly. That’s why cyclists should educate themselves about the risks they’re exposed to while on the road as well as ways to ensure they remain safe. Let’s look at tips to minimize the risk of bicycle-related accidents and resulting injuries.
A Helmet is a Vital Element to Safe Bicycling
Head injuries are common in bicycle accidents. To ensure you’re safe from these kinds of injuries, one step you can take is buying and wearing a helmet. What does your state say about bicycle elements? While adults are not usually needed to wear these safety items, it’s a requirement for kids in many states. Remember to evaluate the helmet thoroughly before buying to ensure it meets the safety standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Your Helmet of Choice Should Fit Correctly
When looking for a helmet, ensure you buy a new one that fits the user correctly. Keep in mind various manufacturers may have different sizes.
How do you fit a helmet? Its rim should sit level on the user’s head and low on the forehead, about two finger widths just above the eyebrows. For the straps, they should fit comfortably and meet below your ears to create a “V” formation. After buckling, the chin strap should not allow more than two fingers to pass. While doing the actual fitting, the user should open his/her mouth wide and take a big yawn: The helmet should fit correctly, hug the person’s head, and the buckle should be lying flat. Does it feel like the helmet is rocking back and forth? Try re-tightening the straps, and if it still doesn’t fit as necessary, try another one.
Kids may throw tantrums during the fitting process. Minimize their resistance by allowing them to choose the helmet they like in terms of color and style.
Use the Appropriate Helmet for Other Activities that Require These Items
Bicycling is not the only activity that demands the use of helmets by kids; it’s also vital in other wheeled activities such as scooter riding, roller staking, and inline skating. Even though ice skating doesn’t have helmet standards, the CPSC recommends wearing a bicycle helmet for some protection, which is better than not wearing one at all. When skateboarding or longboarding, only wear skateboard helmets certified by the CPSC.
Proper Purchase and Maintenance of the Equipment is Crucial
In addition to getting a helmet that fits well, the bike’s size should also fit the user properly. Especially for kids, the bike shouldn’t be too tall in a way it prevents his/her feet from reaching the ground. As a parent, avoid the temptation of buying a big bike, thinking your child will grow into it.
Bicycles should also be maintained regularly and adequately. Tighten any loose bolts, ensure the right tire pressure, make sure brakes are working properly, and replace any worn out parts. And before riding, the helmet should be checked for cracks and issues with straps.
Choosing suitable clothing is also crucial before riding. The cyclist should avoid long clothes or ones that fit loosely. These clothing types may get caught up in the spokes, chains, and tires and cause a crash.
Kids Should Always Be Supervised
If your child is new to cycling, never let him or her ride unsupervised. Being there or having another responsible person supervise them is the only way to ensure they remain safe. Since kids may not be aware of the risks presented by vehicles, only allow them to cycle in safe areas such as familiar sidewalks, parks, and bike paths. Unsupervised bicycling should only be allowed when a child had developed a sense of maturity, great cycling and judgment skills, and a better knowledge of bicycling rules while on the road.
Even with unsupervised cycling, check your child’s riding habits from time to time, detect any wrong behavior, and correct them as necessary.
Guide Your Kids Through Safe and Proper Bicycling
Before you allow your kid to go out on the road, there are several lessons you should teach him/her, including:
- Crossing the road should be done correctly at all times. He/she should look left, right, left again, and then cross the road if there is no oncoming vehicle.
- Making eye contact with car drivers is crucial. It lets the driver know their presence to avoid hitting them.
- Your kid(s) should ride on the right side of the road and obey traffic signals and other signs at all times. Also, teach them when to use hand signals.
- Teach your kids to be predictable always while on the road. Taking drivers by surprise may not give them enough time to act, which can lead to accidents.
As a parent, you should lead by example. Since kids often copy their parents, observe all safety guidelines, and your kids will imitate you. Wear a helmet when cycling, cross the road safely, stay on the right side, etc.
Visibility on the Road is Vital
When riding at night or in dim light, reflectors ensure cyclists are visible by motorists. Generally, cyclists should wear retro-reflective clothing or clothing with reflective patches or trims. In addition to these types of clothing, a bicycle should also have lights. Aside from helping the rider see other items on the road and avoid hitting them, these lights ensure they are visible by drivers. Some states even have laws requiring cyclists to use a solid white light on the bike’s front.
Bicycling is fun. However, safety should always be the #1 priority when riding to avoid injuries. Keep these tips in mind to ensure your or your loved one’s safety on the road.