By Charles E. Geary, Esq.
It’s that time of year again. The winter months are winding down. Spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner. Kids tend to dust off their bicycles and the cycling season begins! Young children are anxious to get out on the streets and explore new neighborhoods. It is natural to use bicycles to expand their horizons and explore neighboring areas.
Cycling can be safe and exciting. Following basic “tried and true” cycling safety tips will help to ensure that your kids have a safe and fun cycling experience. The following tips will help get them started safely:
- ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! This seems to be an obvious safety tip, but every year, people are injured and killed in cycling accidents due to head injuries. Studies show that helmets can reduce head injuries significantly. Of the cyclists killed each year, many were not wearing a helmet.
- DON’T CYCLE WHILE DISTRACTED. Don’t cycle while wearing ear buds and headsets. Avoid texting and cell phone use while cycling. Many cyclists are injured every year when drivers exit their car and open the door into approaching bicycle traffic. Distractions, such as cell phone usage by the cyclist, can lengthen the cyclist’s reaction time, which intensifies this problem.
- CHOOSE BIKE PATHS AND SIDWALKS WHEN AVAILABLE. As the public becomes aware of the growing number of cyclists, local governments are becoming sensitive to the need for cycling safety. State and local governments are beginning to craft laws and ordinances which require that bike lanes and other cycling safety features be engineered into new roads and intersections. Local governments are beginning to allocate funds for cycling infrastructure and cycling safety. Funds are also being allocated for regional bike trails and for the acquisition of right of way lanes for future cycling trails. Bike paths and sidewalks insulate cyclists from close contact with motor vehicles.
- OBEY ALL CYCLING SAFETY LAWS. A good example of beneficial cycling safety laws would be crosswalks and crossing signals. Crossing at designated crosswalks provides you additional visibility and additional legal rights and protections. Motorists have an obligation to yield to cyclists and pedestrians in designated crosswalks. When you approach a crosswalk or any intersection, make eye contact with approaching drivers. Many cyclists wave at drivers to assure visibility. Don’t cross unless the driver sees you and comes to a stop to yield to your crossing.
- WEAR REFLECTIVE CLOTHING AND USE REFLECTIVE MATERIALS ON YOUR BICYCLE. There has been a huge increase in the production and marketing of reflective cycling clothing. Many cycling groups require reflective and brightly colored clothing for their riders. Neon colors remind drivers of the road workers clothing and hazard area signs, thus triggering caution in their minds. Drivers tend to notice these neon colors from long distances. Bright cycling lights are now available which are so bright that they can be seen in broad daylight. It is best to have “high viz” lights on your bike all day. These blinking lights catch the attention of drivers at long distances. Many cyclists use multiple lights, especially on the rear of their bikes.
- MAINTAIN YOUR BICYLCE. Bike safety is greatly enhanced with a few simple safety and maintenance routines. Proper tire inflation goes a long way toward good traction and pedaling efficiency, plus adds safety to your ride. Brakes should be checked often and adjusted routinely. A proper fit will allow you to ride efficiently and avoid injury.
Cycling is a great way to get outside and improve your health while socializing and exploring. It is also a great way for kids to burn off excessive energy and have fun with their friends. These simple safety tips will help all cyclists enjoy this year’s cycling season.
Attorney CHARLES E. GEARY has been a cyclist for his entire life. He practices law at the firm of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC, with a team of skilled trial lawyers who have many years of experience dealing with cycling and pedestrian accidents and injuries. If you have questions regarding cycling or pedestrian accidents, call our office for a free consultation.