In response to COVID-19, gyms and fitness centers across Colorado closed down for several weeks for the safety of their patrons. This left many individuals searching for different ways to keep fit and pursue recreational activities. One area that has been greatly impacted is the demand for home fitness equipment, including children and adult bicycles. Sales of bicycles have experienced double- to triple-digit increases in sales, and bicycle repairs are booming. The ability to pursue both outdoor and kid-friendly activities remains a major attraction for bicycle buyers.
As the rise in bicycle usage gathers momentum, the importance of bicycle safety becomes reinforced. Today we will discuss the main principles of bicycle safety:
- Familiarity with the Rules of the Road
- Proper bicycle selection and maintenance
- Use of approved bicycle helmets
- Understanding risk factors associated with bicycle crashes
By law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. It is crucial that bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers alike are both familiar with the Colorado Rules of the Road to help prevent accidents. For details, see our previous blog: “Rules of the Road: Bicycle Laws in Colorado”
Another way to prevent injury is to use a properly fitted and maintained bicycle. A properly set up bike prevents injuries related to the position of your body on the bike, and the repetitive motions required in cycling, including anterior or posterior knee pain caused by an incorrect saddle height, lower back pain from low handlebars, and neck pain from a bicycle that is too long. Visit a local bicycle store for a fitting session to ensure your bike is set up appropriately. Bicycles also require regular maintenance to avoid mechanical issues.
In 2018, 61% of bicycle deaths occurred when riders were not wearing helmets. Data strongly supports the use of helmets to protect the brain. Specifically, helmet use may reduce the risk of head injury by 50% and head, face, or neck injury by 33%.
Emergency room doctors are among the strongest advocates for bicycle helmet use. Helmet fit is crucial to ensure the benefits of protection – refer to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration website for taking the proper helmet fitting steps.
Risk factors associated with bicycle crashes include riding at night (specifically 6pm – 9pm), urban riding (79% of bicycle deaths in 2018 were in urban settings), and riding under the influence of alcohol. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2018, bicycle deaths were 6.6 times higher for males than females. Intersections are understandably common places for bicyclists to collide with motor vehicles – in 2018, 37% of bicyclist deaths occurred at intersections.
You can reduce additional risk factors such as low light and visibility by using equipment that can make you more noticeable, such as bright clothing, front and rear lights, and reflectors. Plan your route to avoid heavily traveled areas and busy intersections.
In light of COVID-19, cycling remains a healthy alternative to maintain physical distancing and helps you avoid the risk of large crowds on public transportation. Continuing an exercise routine and getting outdoors also may strengthen your immune system and improve your overall mental health. With that in mind, integrating the safety principles described above will minimize the risk factors and allow you to practice a responsible cycling routine.
Should you find yourself injured in a bicycle accident, call us at 303-355-7202 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.