Cycling is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise and save gas for those who choose to commute on a bike. But it’s important to take safety precautions for yourself and any children who ride.
More than 1.3 million people were treated in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors’ offices in 2013 for bicycle-related injuries. Many of their injuries were treated by orthopaedic surgeons.
“A helmet is your friend while cycling, so always wear one,” said Dr. Alex Jahangir, an orthopaedic trauma surgeon and spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. “The other important factor is getting professionally sized for a bike. This is especially essential for growing kids who may have outgrown their bikes. Having an appropriately sized bike helps the rider to have better control while riding, thus reducing the risk for falls and other accidents.”
In 2012, bruises and minor cuts were the leading types of injuries involving bicycles, followed by fractures, then lacerations and strains and sprains. However, serious injuries, including concussions or death, can occur.
To help people stay safe this summer, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers the following list of cycling safety tips:
Road Safety Rules:
- Follow rules of the road. Familiarize yourself with all of the bicycle rules of the road in your city or state. Follow traffic signs and lights. Signal your turns, or your intentions, so that drivers can anticipate your actions.
- Ride defensively. Ride in the direction of traffic and be aware of all surroundings. Be careful when riding next to parked cars to avoid hitting an opening door.
- Avoid distracted cycling.Do not listen to music with head phones, talk on your phone, text or do anything else that can obstruct your hearing and/or vision while riding.
- Never underestimate road conditions.Be cautious of uneven or slippery surfaces.
- Take extra precautions while bicycling at night.Wear bright fluorescent colors; make sure to have rear reflectors. Both a working tail light and headlight should be visible from at least 500 feet away.
- Always wear a helmet approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Studies have shown that wearing a bicycle helmet can reduce head injuries.
- Make sure it fits snugly but comfortably and does not obstruct vision.
- It should have a chin strap and buckles that stay securely fastened.
- If you are involved in a crash and notice that your helmet is cracked, you take the following actions.
- Discard the helmet and obtain a new one.
- Be monitored for signs of concussion.
- Service your bicycle. Check your bicycle’s mechanical components on a regular basis (brakes, tires, gears, etc.), just like you would for a car. If your bike is not in good condition, do not ride it.
- Use proper gear. Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Never wear flip flops.
- Wear padded gloves. Use appropriately padded cycling shorts for longer rides. If you commute on your bike, carry your belongings in a proper bag with close fitting straps. Wear sunscreen, when appropriate.
Other Rider Tips:
- Pace yourself. Cycling can be vigorous exercise. Make sure you are fit enough to participate before you start pedaling. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
- Change riding positions.Slight variations in your position can reduce stress on pressure points on your body and avoid overstressing muscles.
- Watch your fuel level. Be sure to carry water and food on longer rides. Drink a full water bottle each hour on the bike.
- Medical ID Bracelets:Consider wearing a medical ID bracelet. This is useful if the rider is unable to provide basic information to first responders.
- Supervise younger riders at all times. It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.
- Never operate a bicycle while impaired.
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
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