"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." - Ernest Hemingway
With summer, bikes get dusted off and cyclists flock to the roads. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicles killed 773 bicyclists in 2006 in America. An additional 44,000 cyclists were injured in traffic. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency department because of a multitude of bike injuries. For children 14 and younger bike accidents are a leading cause of death! According to the NHTSA, the very first traffic accident in the US occurred in New York City (1896) when a car hit a cyclist. Since 1932 (when safety statistics were first recorded), over 52,000 cyclists have died in traffic crashes.
The primary cause of bicycle death is head injury. The good news is that bike helmets are 85-88% effective in mitigating damage to the brain. The bad news is that only 20-25% of all cyclists wear a helmet.
Other safety tips for cyclists include:
- Always travel with traffic. (Pedestrians walk against traffic but bikes are legally considered "vehicles" on roads.)
- Bikes must follow all traffic laws like stopping at red lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright colors to be spotted by day.
- Use a helmet light or bike light and reflectors to be spotted at night.
- Don’t pass cars on the right. The driver cannot see you.
- Use hand signals.
- Keep your bike in good repair.
Wear a Helmet!