By Staci Hooper
May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities across the nation. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give it a try. Whether you bike to work or school; ride to save money or time; pump those pedals to preserve your health or the environment; or simply to explore your community, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride.
Before you hit the road or trail, make sure you follow these bike safety tips:
- Wear a bicycle helmet on every ride, no matter how short. Head injuries are responsible for about 85 percent of biking related deaths.
- Be visible. Wear bright clothing when riding. Travel in daylight when possible. If night riding is unavoidable, wear reflective clothing and use bicycle headlights and rear lights.
- Choose your travel time carefully. When possible, avoid early morning and late afternoon rush hours. Bad weather also lowers visibility and negatively affects handling for both bikes and motor vehicles.
- Obey traffic rules. Bikes must follow the same road rules as other vehicles. Ride in the direction of traffic flow, use hand signals before turning, obey light signals and yield right-of-way. Stay alert — watch for opening car doors, debris in the road and turning vehicles. Cross intersections carefully.
- Pay attention to safety. Wear shoes — not sandals — that protect your feet. Carry repair gear and a cell phone to call for help if needed. Avoid riding on sidewalks because drivers can’t see you coming at intersections
Staci Hooper is Community Director for YMCA of Western North Carolina. (828) 575-2959