Father teaching his son to ride a bike

Biking season is here. As a biking enthusiast, I enjoy seeing people out recreating on their bikes or using them as their primary mode of transportation. As the Injury Prevention Coordinator for the UVM Medical Center, what I don’t enjoy seeing is people visit our ED because of a bike related injury.

Nationally, more than 500,000 people visit to the emergency room every year with bike-related injuries. One injury is too many when it comes to preventable injuries.

This summer, ride smart and stay safe by following these simple steps:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet.
    • Bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash.
    • Be a good role model for your friends and family. Wear a helmet when participating in any activity where head injury is possible.
    • Advocate for others to wear a helmet.
  • Be visible.
    • Fluorescent clothing can make bicyclists visible from further away than regular clothing during the daytime.
    • Retro-reflective clothing can make bicyclists more visible at night.
    • Active lighting can include front white lights, rear red lights, or other lighting on the bicycle or bicyclist. This lighting may improve the visibility of bicyclists.

Know your Bike ABC’s

A” is for air:

  • Inflate tires to the rated pressure as indicated on the sidewall of the tire.  A bicycle pump is recommended.
  • Use a pressure gauge to ensure proper tire pressure.
  • Check for damage to tire tread and sidewall; replace tire if worn.

“B” is for brakes:

  • Rotate wheels to check that nothing is rubbing.
  • Inspect brake pads for wear; replace is there is less than 1/4″ of pad left.
  • Check adjustment on brake pads; make sure they do not rub tire or dive into spokes.
  • Check adjustment of brake levers.  When applied, there should be least 1″ between each lever and the handlebar.

C” is for cranks, chain, and cassette:

  • Chain should be clean, lubricated, and quiet — not chattering, squeaking, or squealing!
  • If your chain skips while riding, you might need a new chain, a new cassette, and/or an adjustment.
  • Make sure that your crank bolts are tight.

Know the rules of the road-as a biker, a driver, and a pedestrian.

Learn more about the Vermont Safe Streets Network. Ride Safe!

Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator/Safe Kids Vermont Coordinator at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital.

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