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Bicycle Safety Resources for Cyclists

Think safety when it comes to cycling.

When it comes to staying safe while biking, both road and off-road cycling can be dangerous. When biking in urban areas, cyclists need to familiarize themselves with all applicable cycling rules and traffic laws. Cyclists need to be well aware of traffic, motorists, and pedestrians, and they should take special care to ensure that they are visible to everyone on the road. Safety equipment like helmets is essential and cyclists should always ensure that their bicycles are road-ready before they begin their ride.

Off-road biking has a variety of unique challenges that should make safety a top priority for cyclists. The smooth surfaces of city biking are non-existent when on an unpaved trail, so proper safety gear is a necessity. Off-road cycling can be physically demanding, so cyclists should know their bodies and their limits to prevent injuries. Likewise, off-road cyclists should be using a proper bike that is suited for rocky terrain to prevent accidents.

Helmet Use and Cycling

Bicycle helmets are designed to protect the head of a cyclist during biking accidents. Roughly 900 people die as a result of bicycle crashes each year in the U.S., and 75% of these casualties are a result of head injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, evidence shows that helmets reduce the risk of injury and even death, so the organization recommends that all cyclists wear properly-fitting helmets each time that they ride.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission and the American Society for Testing Materials examine helmets to ensure that they are fit to protect bikers from a variety of impacts that can result in massive head trauma. However, cyclists need to ensure that their helmet fits properly before riding. A helmet that fits well should be snug but not too tight, and it should sit at a level position on the head. The helmet should not be tilted back, and the front edge should be situated no more than one inch above the eyebrows.

Other Cycling Safety Equipment

In addition to helmets, there are other types of safety equipment that cyclists can use to stay safe while biking. Aside from helmets, gloves are the most-used piece of bicycle safety equipment. Gloves can protect the skin on the hands in the event of a fall onto the pavement. Many gloves are padded to protect the fingers and hands from compression stress that may result from holding the handlebars on long rides. Mouthguard's and full body protection can also be beneficial for cyclist safety.

Nighttime biking is especially dangerous for cyclists on traditional or e-bike electric bikes, as nearly half of all fatal bicycle accidents in 2012 occurred between 4:00 PM and midnight. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, only four out of ten bicyclists that ride at night claim to use bike headlights or reflective clothing to make themselves more visible. Even fewer people claimed to use taillights, reflectors, or body lights to stay safe while biking after dark.

Bicycle Safety Courses and Other Resources

Bicycle safety courses are available for children and adults to teach the skills that cyclists will need to stay safe while biking. These courses provide cyclists with the confidence and skills that they need to ride legally and safely on the trails or in traffic. Safety tips and equipment will be reviewed, as will crash avoidance techniques, on-bike skills, and safety checks. Advanced courses may focus on the topics of mechanics, training for long bike rides, paceline skills, and all-weather riding.

Many communities and employers are encouraging workers to save energy and to commute to work by biking. Commuting can provide numerous health benefits to the rider, and it can reduce the cyclist's environmental impact, but it can also be dangerous. Therefore, it is often recommended that employees who will be commuting to work by bike first take a specialized safety course. Important topics will be reviewed, including bike parking, lighting, route selection, and dealing with clothing and cargo.