Let’s Ride! Get Ready with These 5 Bike Safety Tips
Summer is the ideal time to enjoy the fresh air and freedom of a bike ride. It’s also a fantastic way to add some activity to your day, burn some calories and get your heart rate up. Before you head out on your set of two wheels, though, be aware of the safety tips that can help you prevent injuries.
The latest Michigan State Police data shows that there were 1,712 reported bicycle crashes in Michigan in 2017, including 1,358 injuries and 21 deaths. And that doesn’t account for the scraped elbows or broken bones that go unreported or show up in ERs and urgent care facilities on a routine basis this time of year.
Following these guidelines will help you have a safe and fun experience:
- Prep your bike: To be sure your bike is ready to ride, inspect it to make sure all parts are secure and working properly. For example, adjust the seat for proper fit, check the brakes and inflate soft tires. This is especially important if your bike has been in storage.
- Make yourself visible: Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when riding—any time of day or night.“Along with bright colors, wear flashing lights or reflective tape to help drivers notice you,” says Jessica Bammer, M.S.A., who is an Injury Prevention Coordinator with the Henry Ford Allegiance Trauma Program “Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.”
- Follow the rules. Bicycles in the roadway are considered vehicles. You need to follow the rules of the road, including riding in the same direction as other traffic. If riding with kids, use the opportunity to teach them traffic rules and set a good example for them.
- Keep your eyes, ears and mind on the road. That means, no texting, listening to music or using anything that distracts you away from the road and traffic. Watch out for hazards or situations up ahead of you that may cause you to fall, like gravel, potholes, sewer grates or train tracks.
- Wear a properly-fitted bike helmet every time you ride. Bike helmets reduce the risk of head injury by up to 85 percent. Find a helmet that is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and specifically tested and designed for cycling. Make sure the straps are comfortably snug (never too loose) and always fastened. A helmet that is too big and slides around on your head or tilts forward and impairs your vision is not going to protect you like a properly fitting one will.
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“Insist that anyone riding along with you follows these same precautions. No one plans to have an accident, but you can plan to be safe,” said Bammer.
Jessica Bammer, MSA, is an Injury Prevention Coordinator at Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson.