Biking is a prominent hobby, mode of transportation and exercise in the Athens area. On any given day, the streets are peppered with students pedaling to class, professionals biking to the office and cycling enthusiasts training for their next big race. Hopping on your bike for a leisurely ride sounds great, but there are several safety factors to consider before you head out for the day. More children ages 5 to 14 go to the emergency room after a biking accident than with any other sport. Whether you are mountain biking with friends, or out for a few hours of fun with the family, we have compiled 10 steps to follow for bike safety.
Wear a helmet!- Wearing a properly fitted helmet is the best way to prevent head injuries. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injuries by almost 45 percent and reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent. Make sure your helmet has a sticker declaring that it meets the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Adjust your bike to fit- Make sure the bike fits each rider well. It should be comfortable and your feet should be able to touch the ground when sitting on the seat.
Ride ready- Check working parts of bike regularly or before each ride. Check brakes and wheels; make sure that “quick release” wheels are secure. Oil the chain, check tire air pressure, and make sure that the seat and handlebars are tight.
Go with the flow- Go with the flow and follow bike rules. Mountain bike paths usually have a one-way pattern to follow for bikers safety. Most park bike paths follow the “stay to the right” rule on the pathway. Make sure to be considerate of other bikers.
Act like a car- When street biking, act like a car and follow all traffic laws and lights. It is important to know and use hand signals to notify drivers of your intentions.
Be alert- Stay alert and don’t get distracted. Keeping an eye out for obstacles can help prevent bike accidents. Listening to music or talking on the phone will distract even the best cyclist.
Ensure your visibility- Make sure you are visible to all car drivers and other bikers. Wear bright colors and use lights and reflectors on your clothes and/or bike. Take extra precautions when riding at night or early in the morning. Be cognizant that sunlight in driver’s eyes may prevent them from seeing you.
Don’t hurry- Travel at safe speeds, and yield to faster riders. Move off the road or pathway when you’re stopped.
Use the buddy system- Ride with a buddy and stick together. Not only is safety in numbers smart, but it could be the difference-maker in a driver seeing you on not. Having a riding partner also ensures quick help in the event of an accident.
Dress to impress- And finally, wear appropriate clothing. Make sure that nothing will get caught in the bike chain-like loose pant legs or shoelaces. Proper shoes are important to grip the pedals and protect the feet.
We hope that these steps have enlightened you and help you enjoy your next ride. Biking should enhance your well-being, not endanger it. Be safe, and ride on!