There are many benefits to bike riding—it's great exercise, it's fun, it's good for the environment, and it's an inexpensive way to get around. But it can also be dangerous, especially when cyclists don't take basic precautions. It's the leading cause of sports-related injury in children between the ages of 5 to 14.
Wear a helmet—and make sure it fits
91% of cyclist fatalities in 2009 were not wearing a helmet. Adult males are the least likely to wear a helmet. Not surprisingly, adult males make up the largest percentage of cyclist fatalities.
Even though helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by astounding 88 percent, only 45 percent of children under the age of 14 wear a bike helmet.
Wear a helmet. And make your kids wear one, too.
SafeKids.org has these tips to for a proper fit.
· EYES check: Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
· EARS check: Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
· MOUTH check: Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
"Drive" your bike.
Drivers aren't allowed to run stop signs or red lights, drive the wrong way, make sudden lane changes without signaling, or weave in and out of traffic.
Neither are cyclists. The law treats bikes as vehicles, which means cyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as drivers.
· Ride on the street, in the rightmost lane.
· Obey all traffic signs, lights, and lane markings.
· Always look back and use hand and arm signals to indicate your intention to stop, merge or turn.
· Yield to pedestrians.
· Older children and adults should stay off the sidewalks. If you do decide to ride on sidewalks, use extra caution at driveways and intersections.
· Ride where drivers can see you. Make eye contact with drivers. Bikers should make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before they cross the street.
· Wear brightly colored clothing at all times. Better, wear reflective tape or clothing.
· At night, use a white front light and red rear light or reflector.
· Don't use headphones while you're cycling. You need to hear the traffic around you.
· Keep an eye out for potholes and other obstacles in the road.
· Drive defensively. If you can avoid a collision, avoid it—even if you have the right of way.