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Bicycle Safety

Bicycling is one of the most popular forms of recreational activity in the United States. Young children spend a lot of time riding their bicycles, both for fun and for transportation to their schools.

The importance of bicycle safety cannot be underestimated. According to the 2008 Alabama Traffic Crash Facts, there were 182 bicycle crash injuries and four fatalities. In 2008, children 14 and under accounted for 27% of the bicycle crash injuries. Bicycle helmets are 85-88% effective in preventing head and brain injuries; however, only 20-25% of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets.

1. Wear a Bike Helmet

Never ride a bike without a helmet. Persons 16 and younger are required by the state of Alabama to wear a helmet. It should fit snugly on your head with the chinstrap secured. Make sure the helmet is level and does not move in any direction, back to front or side to side. Choose a helmet that meets safety standards of the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Memorial Foundation.

2. Be Visible

Wear bright clothing to be visible and retro-reflective gear when there is little light. Avoid riding at night.

3. Obey Traffic Laws

Ride on the right-hand side of the street, so you travel in the same direction as cars do. Never ride against traffic. Ride single file on the street with friends. Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic (red) lights just as cars do. Before entering the street, exiting driveways or crossing intersections, look for vehicles to the left, right, in front and behind. Cross at intersections because drivers canít see you if you pull out between parked vehicles. Walk your bike across busy intersections using the crosswalk and following traffic signals.

4. Stay Alert

Watch for things in your path like potholes, cracks, drainage grates. Be extra careful in wet weather. Always check for traffic.

5. Check Your Brakes

Brakes are the most important part of the bicycle. Control your speed by using your brakes; apply rear brakes slightly before the front hand brakes. In wet weather, ride slowly and apply brakes earlier.

Public Health Statistics

  • 13% of bicycle-related deaths occur in those 14 and younger
  • Approximately 70% of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, but only 20-25% of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets
  • Universal bicycle helmet use by children 4-15 would prevent 39,000-45,000 head injuries and 18,000-55,000 scalp and face injuries annually
  • Societal costs related to bicycle head injuries or death exceed $8 billion

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