all about biking series: let’s talk safety

Happy Monday! Hope you all have caught up on sleep with the daylight saving change this weekend. I really logged in some hours, for some reason I could not keep my eyes open last night. Anyway, I’m all caught up and ready for the week!

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photo: Bicycling

Today we’re talking bike safety. Not exactly a thrilling topic, but it’s important to remember and actually practice. Here in Miami I know a good amount of people who have been hit by cars while biking, and there’s always at least one casualty each year. Getting hit by a car would be terrifying, in my opinion. Yikes.

If you’re safe, however, you can avoid disaster and keep it fun at the same time. My sister sent along this New York Times article that kind of came up with no conclusions on bike safety, but it at least sparked some discussion on the topic.

According to the article, biking in terms of popularity is actually on the decline. Not in my eyes! Every city is crawling with bikers. Good news: there aren’t many studies proving that it’s a dangerous sport and the statistics on bicycle-related deaths and accidents don’t prove much. Bike on!

This may seem like a silly conversation (and you’ll see why in a bit), but a trauma surgeon in San Francisco wanted to see out of about 2,500 bike accident records how many of those have a car involved. About half of the traumatic biking situations did NOT involve a car…what?! This means that a ton of the terrible accidents were probably bikers trying to avoid people in their way, or their tires got caught up in something…like a squirrel? What’s also interesting is that those accidents, the car-free ones, often had more brutal injuries sustained and no official accident to report. So what I’m trying to say is, just be careful. It isn’t always the cars that bring the pain. Keep your eyes ahead and on the lookout!

The NYT article does bring up a good safety point that I’ve never really thought about: it’s rare to find someone with an overuse injury from biking. You see it all the time with runners–knee pains, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and more serious problems. But have you ever heard of someone with a stress fracture from biking? Nope, it’s low-impact. So while you do run the risk of crashing and burning, you generally will be safe, healthy, and without injury on a bike.

BE CAREFUL! CURB! photo: sixcycle

Alright, so how do you avoid getting yourself in a biking pickle? Here are some general biking safety tips:

  • WEAR A HELMET. Duh.
  • Watch for cars making left or right turns. Not everyone uses their blinker, so think ahead and hold yourself back while they reach the corner. You never know who will or will not stop for you.
  • Be careful on any bends in the road. Very often cars can’t see you.
  • This is an important one! If you are biking on the street along with traffic you are supposed to ride your bike through intersections. If you happen to be riding on the sidewalk, you must get off and walk your bike to cross a street. If you don’t follow this rule and get hit by a car, the police most likely won’t sympathize with you.
  • Be visible at nighttime with a blinking light or tons of reflective gear.
  • Stick to bike paths!

I still haven’t gotten my bike cleaned up and tuned up, but it’ll be soon. Then you will have my real tales from the road…which will probably involve a curb that jumped out of nowhere.

photo credits: Bicycling Sixcycle