About 900 people are killed each year and more than 500,000 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for personal injuries from bicycle related incidences, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In fact, the number of bicycling accidents resulting in personal injury that are reported to police has risen in recent years.
That makes it more important than ever to be prepared before hitting the bike path. Having the protective clothing and the proper gear can take a rider a long way down the road to preventing personal injury.
Wearing the right clothes is the first defense in preventing bike crashes. Loose-fitting pant legs or skirts should be avoided because they can catch on a bike chain causing accident or personal injury. Dark clothes should also be avoided. Instead, choose bright colored clothes that are highly visible to other motorists. For footwear, tennis shoes grip the pedals best and offer the best protection from personal injury.
Always wear a snug fitting helmet. It offers more protection from personal injury than any other piece of cycling gear, reducing head injuries by up to 88 percent, and in many states, it’s illegal to ride without one. See the article, “Bike Helmets Prevent Personal Injuries” for how to correctly adjust a bike helmet.
Being properly outfitted isn’t the only step to keeping a cyclist safe from personal injury. Equipment needs to be road-ready as well. Make sure the bike is tuned up with tightly fitting handlebars, wheels and seat. Tires should be pressured, brakes in working order and the chain well-oiled. Bike and helmet should be equipped with reflectors.
Check to make sure the bike isn’t too big or too small for the rider to prevent personal injury. To do this, the rider needs to straddle the bike frame with both feet flat on the ground. The bike is the right size if there is one to three inches of clearance between the rider and the bike frame. The seat should be adjusted so the rider has a slight bend in the knees when legs are fully extended while pedaling. Handlebars should be at the same height as the seat. Equipment is no guarantee of safety, but with the right gear, cyclists can feel secure that they are taking important precautions to bypass personal injury. Once on the road, a cyclist needs to remember to exercise safe riding practices. Ride during the day; not at dusk or at night. Avoid hazardous conditions; foul weather or heavy traffic increase a cyclists chances of personal injury. Stay alert and follow the rules of the road.