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In the Spotlight

Friday, May 18, 2012

May is National Bike Month

Every year emergency rooms see more than a half a million people for injuries related to bicycle accidents. Sadly most are head injuries which could have been prevented had the cyclist been following bike safety. Follow these 5 tips to ride your bike safely and reduce the risk of injury:

1. Wear a helmet
You can reduce the risk of brain injury by as much as 88% and face injury by 65%. Only 25% of children aged 4-15 years wear a helmet when riding. Teen use is nearly zero and adult use is around 50%. Train yourself and your family to think of a helmet as a necessity, not an accessory. In fact, in many parts of the world it is illegal to ride your bike without a helmet. When choosing a helmet, make sure it is the right size for your head. It should sit on the top of your head in a level position, but it should not tilt back on the head. Adjust the straps for a snug, comfortable fit.

2. Ride on the right
Always ride on the right side of the road, with the flow of traffic, not against it. Riding against traffic is dangerous and confuses or surprises drivers. Pass on the left. Do not dart in and out around cars. Use bike lanes or bike trails and paths if they are available. Whenever you are moving slower than the normal traffic speed, stay near the right edge of the road, except when: Passing another bicycle or vehicle; getting ready to turn left; passing a parked vehicle or to avoid other objects; on a one-way road, two lanes or wider, then cyclist may ride near either the left or right side.

3. Obey the rules

Obey all signs, just as if you were in a car. Use hand signals so other riders and drivers know where you are going. The signals are: Left turn - left arm straight out pointing left;. Right turn - left arm pointed straight up, or right arm straight out pointing right; Stop - left arm pointed straight down Stop and look both ways before entering a street. Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and skaters.

4. Reflective clothing
If you will be riding at dusk, dawn, or at night, wear reflective clothing. It is also a good idea to put reflective strips on your bike. You should also have a bike headlight and rear reflector installed on your bicycle.

5. Age restrictions
Do not let children under 10 onto roadways. Have your children stay on bike paths or sidewalks until they are at least 10 years old, and have developed good riding skills. They must be fully able to comprehend the rules of the road.

Check out a list of bicycle paths and pedestrian accessible trails here: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/localmaps.htm
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