Riding a bicycle is fun, keeps you active, is environmentally friendly and can be a great way to stay in shape. Although bike riding is a common practice in Florida, like many activities, it does have its risks. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows among US bicyclists, 53,000 were injured and 716 died in traffic in 2008. 4.2% of traffic fatalities in Florida were bicyclists. The following are some basic safety tips to help you avoid bicycle accidents and potentially catastrophic injuries .
1. Wear a helmet.
Florida State Law requires all bike riders and passengers under the age of 16 to wear a helmet. However, experts agree everyone on a bike should wear protective headgear. A helmet takes the brunt of the impact if you fall and even a low speed fall can be dangerous and can cause a brain injury. Like seat belts, helmets should be worn every time you ride.
2. Obey all traffic signals and rules.
Bikes are considered vehicles just like cars and trucks. Therefore riders must follow the same rules as car and truck drivers. Ride in the same direction as traffic so drivers are more likely to see you. Ride to the right, but not so far as to risk hitting the curb and falling into traffic.
3. Increase visibility at night.
In addition to the helmet statute, Florida law requires bikes be equipped with lights and reflectors if they are used between sunset and sunrise. Wearing white, yellow or lime green clothing will also make you more visible to drivers and pedestrians. Using the same hand signals drivers learn as a back up to turn signals and brake lights will help motorists know where you are planning to go next.
4. Ensure your bike is the right size and in working condition.
It is easier to control a bicycle that is the correct size and adjusted for you. Bike shops can help you choose the right bike. This will also make it more comfortable and it will cause less fatigue. Ensuring your brakes are in good condition and inspecting the bike regularly will make it safer to ride.
5. Avoid common hazards.
When riding a bike, it is prudent to wear tighter fitting clothing that is less likely to get caught in the bike chain. Riding in flip flops, sandals, cleats, high heels or barefoot can also be dangerous and cause personal injury. Avoiding large puddles, gravel, wet leaves, curbs, changes in the road surface, and storm grates will help prevent many falls.
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