During the summer, we all see more people biking. It is well known that bicycling is one of the best ways to stay in shape, see the sights, save money on gas and reduce pollution. Even though there are so many benefits, there are also a lot of risks and people must take extra precautions when they ride. They often share the road with vehicles, which creates a host of hazards, but injuries can happen even on a designated path. The National Safety Council reports that bicycle riding caused more injuries over all age groups than football in 2013. According to Injury Facts 2015, 531,340 people were treated in emergency rooms in 2013 after being injured riding a bicycle. The only sport resulting in more injuries overall was basketball, at 533,509. Football was third, at 420,581. This organization also reports that about 1,000 deaths and 120,000 injuries resulted from cyclists colliding with motor vehicles in 2013. With about 80 million bike riders sharing the road with millions of motorized vehicles, the importance of safety precautions in traffic cannot be emphasized enough.
What can you do to protect yourself if you are biking? Wear a helmet. Studies show that cyclists who wear a helmet reduce their risk of injury by 85%. Helmets must meet federal safety standards and should fit securely.
Here are some other rules to keep you safe:
- Get acquainted with traffic rules; cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists
- Know your bike’s capabilities
- Ride single-file in the direction of traffic, and watch for opening car doors and other hazards
- Use hand signals when turning and use extra care at intersections
- Never hitch onto cars
- Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder
- Wear bright clothing and ride during the day
- If night riding can’t be avoided, wear reflective clothing
- Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes
- A horn or bell and a rear-view mirror, as well as a bright headlight, also is recommended
Cycling in Northwest Florida is not always safe. There are portions of 98 which are know as Bloody 98 because of the amount of pedestrian and cyclists deaths. Local cyclists recommend the following to help share the road with them:
1. Pause and observe the roadway when you spot a bicyclist in your lane.
2. Pass a bicyclist at a distance of at least 3 feet.
3. Reduce speed when passing a bicyclist.
4. Obey the speed limit.
5. Do not open the doors of your vehicle on a heavily traveled road unless visibly safe to do so.