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Bicycle safety  Smart Choices Archive

Bicycle safety

When bike riding, follow these safety rules. Photo: Fotolia


Whether you will ride across Iowa in RAGBRAI this summer, often bike to work or perhaps just pedal for fun and exercise, it’s crucial for you and your family members to practice extreme caution on trails and on roadways.

The obvious rules for riding
You probably are well aware that helmets, lights and mirrors are essential to safe riding, as is following all “rules of the road”: riding on the right side; stopping at stop signs; signaling before making a turn; and watching out for cars, pedestrians and other impediments. However, in reality, following these practices is only part of the equation for staying safe.

How not to get hit by cars
While nothing can truly save a bicyclist from getting hit by an auto driver not paying attention, BicycleSafe.com shows (with illustrations) 10 ways to not get hit by a car.  Their tips for various scenarios include waving to be seen if you sense danger, wearing bright clothing and/or a reflective vest or safety triangle, choosing streets with less (or slower) traffic and more.

Kids and bikes
Of course, children need to follow the same safety rules as adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has several lists of tips for children. The tips include wearing a properly fitted helmet and adjusting the bike to be sure it fits properly. Surprisingly, this site recommends street riding rather than sidewalk riding for children over 10. Find more suggestions for kids at NHTSA.

Top mistakes bicyclists and auto drivers make that lead to accidents
The NHTSA also has compiled statistics on causes of car-bicycle accidents. Several of the top mistakes cyclists make include:

  • Popping into the street from a driveway, alley or from between parked cars without stopping or looking for traffic
  • Swerving suddenly into the path of a motorist
  • Riding through a red light or stop sign without stopping
  • Riding in the wrong direction, facing cars head-on
  • Riding after drinking alcohol

Top mistakes auto drivers make:

  • Turning in front of a bicyclist
  • Failing to look around before pulling out, backing up or parking
  • Turning right on red without looking to the right and behind
  • Going too fast for the conditions
  • Passing too closely

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