The other day, I ran into a friend on the bicycle trail near my neighborhood. We both espoused how happy we were to be enjoying the summer weather, exercising, and saving a little bit of gas money by riding our bikes. “Why doesn’t everyone do this?” I said, intending it to be a rhetorical question.
Laughing a little bit, my friend told me about his adult daughter, Michelle, who at age 22, still couldn’t ride a bike. My friend and his wife had tried to teach her as a child, but as soon as they let go, she would startle and fall. She didn’t learn, my friend said, until a few months ago, when her boyfriend bought her a bicycle for Valentine’s Day with the intent of teaching her. What he didn’t account for, after purchasing the bike, however, was that he had no way of fitting it in his car—so he rode it to her college dorm across town to surprise his girlfriend.
Picture that, a 6’ 3” college boy in all black, riding a tiny pink cruiser with streamers on the handle bars down a busy intersection in a college town. My friend was still laughing when she told me about the sweet gesture.
Still, despite the goofy visual and the thoughtful intention, I couldn’t stop thinking about how dangerous it was. In 2010 in the US, almost 800 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 515,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries. Summer is a particularly dangerous time for this fantastic hobby, and we at KOVA put safety first.
Here are some safety tips for cycling to keep in mind for your family.
According to a 1989 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, riders with helmets had an 85% reduction in their risk of head injury and an 88% reduction in their risk of brain injury. Do you wear a seatbelt in the car, wear sunscreen at the beach, or have a working battery in your home smoke detector? Wearing a helmet should be a similar no brainer—that is, if you want to keep your brain in tip-top condition! This is the best way to keep your kids safe outside when they’re on their bikes.
I have lost my friend in bike accident 2 and half years back. Please use helmet and safety jackets #HelmetAwarenessByAJITHFans
— HBD ❤ ROGER FEDERER (@JonasThala) June 24, 2015
Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top bar if you’re using a road bicycle and 3 to 4 inches if you’re riding a mountain bike. The seat should be level front to back, not tilted at all. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.
Teach your family to wear reflective, bright, or even neon colors when biking on or near a road. While it is cooler outside in the evening, riding at night is more dangerous when cars can’t see you. Another way to fight this problem is to place reflective stickers or tape on your bike or to install headlights.
Most bike-related accidents happen because of the rider’s behavior. That means that most bike-related accidents are totally preventable as long as you remember that you can’t be too careful about public safety. Bikes are vehicles, so they must follow the rules of the road. Model proper bike safety and be a good role model by stopping at stop signs, looking before turning, checking for school buses, riding on the correct side of traffic, and yielding to cars.
It should go without saying, but never text and ride. Similarly, it’s a good idea to avoid wearing headphones as you ride your bike so you can properly hear any honking or calls to look out. Never, ever ride drunk—not only is it incredibly dangerous, but it’s illegal in most places as well!
We at KOVA deeply care about our communities and want you to have the best and safest summer possible. For any questions about our services, please contact us.
Looking for more ways to stay active? Biking can be a fun, safe way to get around this summer. http://t.co/PqlsRk71KE
— Every Body Walk (@everybodywalk) June 27, 2015
What are your favorite bike safety tips? Let us know below in the comments!