From children and families to serious riders training for races, bicycle riding is a popular summer pastime for many people of Northeast Wisconsin. While we usually consider riding a bicycle a safe activity, there is risk involved. However, there are ways to stay safe.
According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, more than 50,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2007. Of all the traffic fatalities in 2008, bicyclist deaths accounted for 2 percent.
Nearly 40 percent of bicycle accidents involve alcohol, either on the part of the cyclist or a motorist, so it is important to realize that you shouldn’t “drink and ride.” If you have consumed alcohol and you are on your bike, call someone to pick you up.
Most fatal bicycle traffic accidents (69 percent) occurred in urban areas in 2008, and 64 percent occurred at intersections.
Bicycle Safety Basics
Statistics often appear scary; however, following a few safety tips will help keep you safe this summer:
- Check equipment. Make sure your bike is in working order before you take it out on the road or trail. Test the brakes to verify they have retained their stopping power, as well as the seat connection, the chain, and tire pressure. If anything looks amiss, take your bike to a repair shop for a tune-up.
- Correct the fit. Your bicycle should fit you properly. Make sure the seat and handlebars are adjusted for your height and riding position. You should be able to comfortably reach the pedals, and the seat should be adjusted to put you at a convenient angle to the handlebars.
- Follow the law. Different cities and towns have different laws regarding bicycle safety and registration. For example, some areas require that bicycles have lights and that the bike be registered. Also, pay attention to sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, and other areas designated for cyclists.
It is always a good idea to wear a helmet when riding a bike. Most authorities recommend wearing reflective clothing so that motorists can see you when you are riding on public roadways. Use hand signals to let drivers know where you are heading and walk your bike across streets rather than riding it.
Not all injuries or accidents can be prevented. However, keeping in mind the above safety tips will help you stay safe this summer. Bicycle safety requires constant vigilance, not just when you are presented with hazardous circumstances.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, please call an experienced attorney to learn of your legal options.