More than 80 million Americans enjoy cycling because it is an environmentally efficient way to travel, a great form of exercise, and a fun recreational activity for families to enjoy.
Unfortunately, according to 2013 statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 1.3 million people were treated in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors’ offices for bicycle-related injuries.
Orthopaedic surgeons treat injuries but would rather prevent them. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers this 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 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 headphones, talk on your phone, text or do anything else that can obstruct your hearing and/or vision while riding.
- 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 chinstrap and buckles that stay securely fastened.
- Use proper gear. Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Never wear flip flops.
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.
- Supervise younger riders at all times. It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas.