Summer weather is finally here, and with the longer days many of us are spending more time outdoors, enjoying activities like bike riding. Biking is a great way to keep fit and spend time outdoors, but it is also an activity that can lead to a trip to the emergency room. In 2015, bicycles were associated with more injuries over all age groups than skateboards, trampolines, swimming pools and playground equipment combined. So, whether you are pedaling down the road with the whole family in search of an ice-cream cone, or you are racking up the miles training for a triathlon, there are some common-sense tips that can help keep you and your loved ones safe as you venture out on a bike:
- Always wear a helmet
- Get bicycles tuned for safe and effective brakes, gears, and tires
- Wear bright clothing
- Travel in the same direction as the traffic
- Watch closely for debris and hazards
- Use a basket, rack, or backpack to carry things
- No earbuds!
One of the most important pieces of biking safety advice is to always wear your helmet! Pedaling without one could put you at risk for serious traumatic brain injury, and a properly-fitted bike helmet could even save your life in the event of an accident. It’s also important to make sure that your bicycle is properly tuned-up and ready to go before you set off on the first adventure of the season. Tires need to be properly inflated, your chain should be well-oiled and running smoothly, and your brakes should be tight enough that you can always stop quickly and easily. And brightly-colored clothing will help you be as visible as possible to other vehicles that might be sharing the road with you.
Once you’re out on the road, travel in the same direction as the car traffic, and keep your eyes open for any potential road hazards, such as potholes, debris in the road, or a car door opening in front of you. Whenever possible, keep both of your hands on the handlebars – a bike basket or a backpack comes in handy when you need to carry things like books, a bottle of water, or groceries. And it’s best to keep the earbuds out of your ears as you bike – having them in makes it much harder to hear approaching traffic or the sounds of pedestrians who might cross your path.
Biking is a great activity for adults and kids alike, and when you are proactive about being safe as you pedal you minimize your risk of injury – and maximize your enjoyment!