There are countless benefits of cycling—from increasing bone and muscle strength and flexibility to improving cardiovascular fitness and mental health. It’s also a pastime that people of every age can enjoy.
May is National Bicycle Safety Awareness Month and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) are championing bicycle safety through their 2016 Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign.
The PSA reminds the public that “riders aren’t always in the right, but they’re always fragile.” The ad was distributed to more than 8,000 media outlets to help spread awareness and is available for download on the Academy’s website.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1.3 million cycling injuries were reported in 2015.
“Wearing proper safety gear and riding an appropriately sized bicycle are just the basics to bicycle safety,” said orthopaedic trauma surgeon and AAOS spokesperson Jeffrey M. Smith, MD. “A step further is for cyclists to follow the rules of the road and for drivers to give them the space they need to ride safely. We hope this message resonates with both cyclists and drivers as both play a role in minimizing injuries.”
Road Safety Rules:
- Ride defensively. Ride in the direction of traffic and be aware of all surroundings. Be careful when riding next to parked cars to avoid hitting an opening door.
- Follow rules of the road. Familiarize yourself with all of the bicycle rules of the road in your city or state. Follow traffic signs and lights. Signal your turns, or your intentions, so that drivers can anticipate your actions.
- Avoid distracted cycling. Do not listen to music with head phones, talk on your phone, text or do anything else that can obstruct your hearing and/or vision while riding.
- Never underestimate road conditions. Be cautious of uneven or slippery surfaces.
- Take extra precautions while bicycling at night. Wear bright fluorescent colors; make sure to have rear reflectors. Both a working tail light and headlight should be visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Always wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Studies have shown that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries.
- Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably and does not obstruct vision.
- It should have a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened.
- If you are involved in a crash and notice that your helmet is cracked, you should take the following actions:
- Discard the helmet and obtain a new one
- Be monitored for signs of concussion
- Service your bicycle. Check your bicycle’s mechanical components on a regular basis (brakes, tires, gears, etc.) just like you would for a car. If your bike is not in good condition, do not ride it.
- Use proper gear. Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Never wear flip flops. Wear padded gloves. Use appropriately padded cycling shorts for longer rides. If you commute on your bike, carry your belongings in a proper bag with close fitting straps. Wear sunscreen, when appropriate.
Other Rider Tips:
- Pace yourself. Cycling can be vigorous exercise. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
- Change riding positions. Slight variations in your position can reduce stress on pressure points on your body and avoid overstressing muscles.
- Watch your fuel level. Be sure to carry water and food on longer rides. Drink a full water bottle each hour on the bike.
- Wear medical ID bracelets. Consider wearing a medical ID bracelet. This is useful if the rider is unable to provide basic information to first responders.
- Supervise younger riders at all times. It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.
- Never operate a bicycle while impaired. – USNewwire.