Avoid Bicycle Injuries
Dr. Jaime Miller is the Medical Director for the Emergency Department at Hayward Area Memorial Hospital, and sees plenty of bicycle accidents. In fact, in the United States nearly 1000 people die and over 130,000 people are seriously injured in bicycle accidents every year. Here’s her advice…
Cycling is a great activity here in the Northwoods and one of my favorite things to do in the summer (I am definitely a fair-weather biker and you won’t see me out below 40◦F.) I do what I can to stay safe when on the roads or trails: don my sturdy helmet, obnoxiously fluorescent yellow riding jacket and I have blinking lights all over my bike. Here are some simple tips for you to stay safe to help avoid bicycle injuries.
Wear Your Helmet
One of the most common injuries seen from riding a bicycle is a head injury. Injuries can range from a mild concussion to more serious internal bleeding and skull fractures. Serious injury can be prevented by wearing a helmet. Helmets have been shown to reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, in all cyclists, regardless of age.
Taking measures to ensure you are visible to motorists reduces the risk of injury. Wear fluorescent clothing during the daytime and reflective clothing at night. At minimum, have white lights on the front of your bicycle and red rear lights on the back. The easier you are to see, the better.
Follow the Road Rules for Cyclists
- Obey all traffic laws. Ride like you are a motor vehicle.
- Always ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Ride at least three feet from the curb, debris, or parked vehicles.
- Ride in a straight line. Don’t swerve in and out around parked vehicles.
- If the lane is narrow, ride in the center of the lane.
- If the lane is wide, ride to the right of traffic but leave 3 feet of clearance between the curb and motorists.
- Be aware of your local regulations. Sidewalk riding is restricted in some communities.
- Do not interchange between sidewalks, crosswalks, and riding with traffic. This is confusing for motorists and can lead to crashes.
- Use hand signals when turning, slowing down, or stopping.
Avoid Common Causes of Accidents
- Not stopping or looking for traffic before entering a street or intersection.
- Swerving in front of a motor vehicle.
- Turning without signaling
- Riding the wrong direction. One third of all crashes between bicycles and motorized vehicles involve the bicyclist riding against traffic.
Follow These Safety Tips for Children
Most children do not have the ability to ride unsupervised before the 4th grade. Before letting your child ride unsupervised, make sure they:
- Know bicycle traffic laws
- Learn street signs and signals
- Know hand signals for turning and stopping so they can communicate with motorists
- Can look over their shoulder for traffic while keeping the bike balanced
- Have the judgement and skill to interact with all road users
Reminders for Motorists
- Under state law, bicycles are vehicles and have the same right-of-way as motor vehicles.
- Leave at least three feet when passing bicycles, more room at higher speeds.
- Riders need room to maneuver around obstructions such as potholes and sewer grates.
- Change lanes to pass any bicycle traveling in a narrow lane.
- Be aware when you are driving and keep an eye out for bicycles, motorcycles, and pedestrians when turning or leaving stop signs and lights.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident or see an accident, call 911 if the person has serious injuries or is unresponsive.
Dr. Miller earned her Medical Degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and completed her residency at Mount Carmel Health in Columbus, Ohio. In her free time she enjoys biking and hiking with her three dogs: Jack, Lulu and Champ. Although her dogs are not very good at fishing, they like to splash and play in the water a little too much.