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How to Avoid Bicycle Accidents: Tips for Cyclists

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Guy riding a bike in the bike lane

Bicycling is more popular than ever and with good reason. It’s great for physical and mental health, the environment and quality of life. Many cities like Lancaster support cycling with designated bike lanes and bike share and repair programs. While measures like this help promote rider safety, bicycling can be dangerous.

Stories involving bicycling accidents frequently make local and national headlines and vividly highlight the importance of taking safety precautions when you head out for a ride. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 700 people die in bicycle accidents in the U.S. each year. Approximately 500,000 sustain injuries that require emergency room treatment. Nearly one-third of all injuries are caused when bicyclists are struck by cars.

Tips to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

Many accidents could be avoided if bicyclists and motorists followed the rules of the road, along with other important safety guidelines. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you take your bicycle on the road this summer.

Preparing for a Safe Bicycle Ride

  • Protect your head: Always wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet, regardless of your age. The NHTSA says about 70 percent of all fatal bicycle accidents involve head injuries. Helmet use is the single most effective way to reduce head injuries. Unfortunately, statistics show only about 20 to 25 percent of cyclists wear helmets.

  • Check your equipment: Make sure you bicycle is properly adjusted and the brakes and wheels are working properly. Inflate your tires.

  • Dress to be seen: Wear fluorescent or bright colors when riding—day and night.

Safety Tips While Cycling

  • Stay alert: Watch out for road hazards. Potholes, broken glass, gravel, animals and other obstacles can cause a crash. If you’re riding with a group and are in the lead, yell out to alert riders behind you of possible hazards. Don’t wear headphones or use a cell phone.

  • Look and signal: Use hand signals to let drivers and other bicyclists know where you’re going. Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible. Don’t assume drivers will stop.

  • Ride with the flow of traffic, never against it. Ride on the right side of the road, always being aware of traffic around you. Obey all traffic laws and lights.

  • Control your bicycle: Keep at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items in a bike carrier or backpack.

  • Don’t drink alcohol: Data show that nearly one-fourth of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes were at or above the legal blood alcohol limit.

As Americans increasingly turn to bicycles to commute, get exercise, and run errands, it is more important than ever to follow safe bicycling and driving practices. We must also support and encourage efforts by state and local officials and community organizations to create safer roadways and bicycling networks.

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Kevin Lynch, MD

Kevin Lynch, MD, is a family medicine physician with LG Health Physicians Family Medicine Leola. Dr. Lynch is a graduate of Temple University School of Medicine and the Lancaster General Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program. He appreciates caring for people with a wide array of needs and cultivating long-term and meaningful physician-patient relationships.

Call: 717-656-2141

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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