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Bicycle Safety Tips

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Safe cycling tips to protect riders of all ages

There’s nothing like the freedom and fun of riding a bike. However, before you or your young ones take to the road, make sure you’re putting safety first. If you don't, you might risk getting scrapes and abrasions bikers jokingly call "road rash" – or even worse.

Case in point: More than 600 bicyclists are killed each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Obeying traffic signals and laws, riding along with the traffic (not against it) and using reflectors are just some ways to keep you safer on the road. Here are some more.

Use your head – wear a helmet

Riders of every age and ability should wear a properly fitted helmet. Wearing one while bicycling can reduce the risk of serious brain injury by more than 85 percent, according to American Family Children’s Hospital.

The helmet should fit squarely on the top of the head and cover the top of the forehead. The strap should be comfortably snug and should hold the helmet in place without moving or sliding.

Other bicycling safety gear includes bright-colored and reflective clothing to make you more visible to motorists.

Avoid wearing loose clothing that may catch in the bike chain or wheels. And wear closed-toe shoes to avoid foot injuries.

Find the right fit

It’s important your bike is the right size for your body. Riding a bike that is not the correct fit can cause a loss of balance and control. Consider the following factors to find the right-sized bike:

  • Ensure the rider can place the balls of both feet on the ground when sitting on the seat.

  • Keep at least one-inch of space between the rider and the crossbar when the rider is straddling the center bar with both feet flat on the ground.

  • Make sure the rider can comfortably reach the handlebars when sitting on the seat.

  • Ensure the rider can apply enough pressure to trigger handlebar brakes.

Bicycle safety for kids

Young riders need special attention when they are learning how to balance both biking and safety. Here are a few tips to keep children safe on the road.

  • Children under 12 months or older than four years should not ride as passengers on an adult bike.

  • Adults should accompany riders under age nine and not allow them to ride on the road.

  • Young children and inexperienced riders should walk their bikes across the street.

  • Do not ride after dark.

  • Teach hand signals:

  • Right turn – Put your left arm straight out and bend at the elbow so your forearm and hand are straight up.

    Left turn – Place your left arm straight out and parallel to the road.

    Braking – Place your left arm straight out and bend at the elbow so your forearm and hand are straight down.

    Additional biking safety resources

    For more information about bicycling safety, education and instruction, visit these sites:

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