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June 21, 2013 Blog,Personal injury

Summer is here – a great time to hop on your bike and get some exercise.

Not surprisingly, biking is an increasingly popular sport in this country. The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. In fact, according to The League of American Bicyclists, there are more than 57 million cyclists on our roads at any given time

While biking offers a greats means of transportation – it’s good exercise, easy on the environment and a wonderful way to take in local color — there are inherent risks, especially if you are not attune to the rules of the road.

Each year cycling causes 1.4 million injuries in the United States.

“In my specialty, I see many cycling injuries that are caused by traumatic accidents,” said Eric Chehab, MD spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) and specialist in sports medicine. “Similar to driving a car, there are rules of the road with cycling and it’s imperative that riders follow those rules to help decrease the incidence of collisions and other traumatic occurrences.” Tips for Safety

Bicycle related crashes are typically due to human error, and may be connected to the bicyclist’s behavior, or due to the motorist’s lack of attention. Following are some common sense tips to help keep you safe on the road, courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Adjust your bike. Make sure the frame is the right size for you, and that the seat and handlebars are where they should be for you.

Know your bike. Get a feel for its gears and brakes before jaunting off.

Pace yourself. Cycling can be vigorous exercise. Make sure you are fit enough to participate before you start pedaling. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

Change riding positions. Even slight variations in how you adjust yourself can help reduce stress on your body’s pressure points and avoid overtaxing muscles.

Make sure your helmet fits. Strive for a snug but comfortable fit – make sure it is non-vision obstructing. A chin strap is a must, as are buckles that stay fastened.

Follow the rules of the road. Signal when you’re turning, don’t hog the lane, ride with traffic.

Ride defensively. Ride in the direction of traffic and be aware of all surroundings.  Be careful when riding next to parked cars to avoid being hit by an opening door.

Avoid distracted cycling: Do not listen to music with head phones, talk on your phone, text or do anything else that can obstruct your hearing and/or vision while riding.

Carry water. You should drink a full bottle of water every hour while riding.

Use proper gear. Never wear flip-flops or loose-fitting clothing. Do wear a helmet and sunscreen.

Never underestimate road conditions. Be cautious of uneven or slippery surfaces.

Take extra precautions for nighttime riding. Don’t assume people or cars can see you. Wear fluorescent colors and make sure you have rear reflectors. A tail light and headlight should be visible from 500 feet away.  Look  for reflective materials to add to jackets, wristbands and patches for back, legs and arms, and helmet. Make sure you have reflectors on both the front and back of your bike.

Avoid heavy traffic. Take time to look for safe routes with designated bike lanes, trails or other lightly used roadways. And if you must share the road with motor vehicles, it may be safer to “take” the lane by riding in the middle rather than “sharing” the lane with a vehicle.

Ride with the flow of traffic. Ride in the same direction as traffic – this  will make you more visible to drivers entering roads or changing lanes.

For more information on bike safety, visit Safety Tips for Bicyclists and Motorists