Bicycle Safety

Now that we are finally enjoying a real spring weekend, I want to remind everyone about bicycle helmets and safety.  Everyone should wear helmets while riding (a slight qualifier below).  By the way, I also recommend helmets for in-line skates, skateboards, scooters, and even pogo-sticks.

Every year there are approximately 300,000 ER visits and 10,000 hospital admissions due to bicycle injuries.  In 2010 there were 800 deaths and annual economic losses from bike injuires are estimated at $5 billion.

Each bicycle helmet should have a sticker certifying that it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  It should fit to be snug but not tight. Straps should always be fastened and one should never wear a hat under your helmet.  If you fall and strike the helmet with any force, it needs to be replaced.

There is actually some controversy attached to bicycle helmet use.  Many safety experts point out–accurately–that helmets are not a guarantee of safety and their use can sometimes deflect us from focusing on the many other  steps that are essential to maximize safety:

  • Use sidewalks and bike lanes wherever available
  • Always ride with–not against–traffic
  • Follow traffic rules and obey signs and signals/lights
  • Wear proper clothing–loose fitting pant legs or loose back pack straps can get caught causing hazards
  • Proper footwear–sneakers, not sandals or flip flops; also no heels, cleats.  Never barefoot
  • No headphones–be alert to traffic sounds
  • Keep bike properly tuned(chains, brakes, gears etc) and tires properly inflated
  • Make sure bike has visible reflectors
  • Size bike to child’s height: there should be 1-3″ between top bar and child’s groin when straddling the bike

A final word: safety first, of course.  But I do want to encourage parents to be cognizant of the social pressures of your kids’ world.  I believe it’s in no one’s interest to dogmatically dictate to your kids(especially your teen boys) about things that very well could lead to their being ridiculed or ostracized from their friends.  Listen to their concerns, talk with them, work with them here and in all things.  Patience and understanding for their reality is always your best approach.

I encourage questions or commentsand, as always, thanks for following.


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