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Bicycle Safety

For information on bicycle and helmet safety, click on a subject below.

Clothing     Helmet Information and Questions
Riding Tips     Helmet Repair
Equipment Check     How do I properly fit my helmet?
Warnings      



Clothing

It really makes sense to wear something bright that will make you stand out as you are riding. Here are some tips that will keep you safe.

  • Wear bright colors, fluorescent green, yellow or orange are great. They will make you stand out from the scenery.
  • Look for fabrics that are cool and light weight. If it is cool out dress in layers so you can peel clothes off as you warm up.
  • If you have to ride at night (which we don't recommend) you need clothing that have some type of reflective materials, a headlight.
  • Make sure you don't have loose clothing, bags or shoe strings that may get caught in the chain or spokes.
  • The last and most important piece of clothing is your helmet. Never get on you bike without it.

Riding Tips

  • Avoid riding at night, but if you must, use a headlight, a taillight, reflectors on your pedals and wear bright, reflective clothing.
  • Scan the road behind you. Check over your shoulder as you ride being careful not to loose your balance or swerving. Many riders use a handle bar or helmet mounted rear view mirror.
  • Always look back before changing lanes or position in your lane to make sure you are not turning in front of someone.
  • Go slow on sidewalks and bike paths. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. When passing pedestrians give an audible warning to let them know you are passing. Keep a careful eye out when passing driveways. Many drivers back out without even looking.
  • Always obey traffic signs and signals. Many accidents a year stem from bicyclists not obeying the same rules as automobiles.
  • When riding on the street always ride with traffic not against it.
  • Make sure you use hand signals when turning or stopping. Ride in a straight and don't weave between parked cars unless they are far apart.
  • Don't pass a car on the right. Vehicles turning right may not be looking for a bike coming up on their right side.

Equipment Check

Before you get on a bike and ride away you need to check several things.

  • Make sure your bike is the proper size.  When standing on the ground there should be a 1-3 inch gap between you an d the top bar. (You will need slightly more room if riding a mountain bike.)
  • Check your bike seat. Is is tight? Is it at the right height? When you are sitting on the seat with your foot on the pedal, your leg should be slightly bent.
  • Make sure you have a reflector on the front and back of your bike. The rear reflector should be red and at least 3 inches across. Make sure it is pointed straight back so it properly reflects a car's headlights.

  • Check the bike's chain to make sure it is clean and lubricated. If not take it to the local bike shop.
  • Check your brakes for even pressure. They should make your back wheels skid on dry pavement, but you don't want them to stick.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

Warnings

  • Helmet Warnings
    Children must remove helmets before climbing on playground equipment or trees, where a helmet can snag and choke them.

  • What Shouldn't I Wear?
    • Do not wear headphones while riding your bike. You need to hear what is going on around you.
    • Don't wear clothing that is too loose. They may get caught in the workings of your bike.
    • Don't wear inappropriate shoes.
    • Don't wear dark clothing.
  • Keep an eye out for road hazards.
  • Parallel-slat sewer grates
  • Man hole covers
  • Oily pavement
  • Speed bumps
  • Wet Leaves
  • Gravel
  • Ice
  • Railroad tracks
  • Broken Glass

  • Watch for cars pulling out of intersections and driveways.

  • Watch for chasing dogs.
    Ignore them or try a firm "NO." If you can't get away dismount and try to keep the bike between yourself and the dog.

  • When riding in the rain keep alert for slippery areas and make sure to allow extra distance for breaking.

Helmet Information and Questions

How Does a Bicycle Helmet Work?
A helmet reduces the peak energy in a sharp impact. This requires a layer of stiff foam to cushion the blow by crushing. Most do this with expanded Polystyrene (EPS), the white picnic cooler film.

Does My Child Really Need a Helmet?
You bet! 85% of cyclists' head injuries can be prevented by a properly fitting bicycle helmet. More than 8000 bicycle riders are killed in the United States each year, almost all collisions with cars, and 75% of them die from head injuries. Your child can suffer permanent personality changes and learning disabilities from a brain injury, along with long term concentration difficulties, aggressiveness, headaches and balance problems.

Does My Toddler Need A Helmet?
A child of any age needs head protection when riding, but a toddler's neck muscles may not support the weight of a helmet. For this and other reasons, nobody in the injury prevention community recommends riding with a child under the age of one year old.

What Is The Best Helmet To Buy?
In June of 1999 Consumer Reports listed the Bell Half Pint Pro. as the best youth helmet to purchase.

Can I Wear A Bicycle Helmet For Other Sports?
The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for biking and inline skating are identical, so a bike helmet can easily double as a skating helmet for NORMAL inline skating. Aggressive skating and skateboard helmets have their own ASTM standard, and are designed for multiple hits.

When Should I Replace My Helmet?
Replace any helmet if you crash. Impact crushes some of the foam, although the damage may not be visible.

Many manufactures recommend replacement after five years.


Helmet Repair

Buckles:

When any piece of a helmet buckle breaks off, you must replace the buckle! Some manufacturers will send you a replacement buckle if you simply contact them. Otherwise, try your local bike shops for replacement parts.

Fit Pad Anchors:
After time the fit pad anchors attached to the inside of your helmet may come loose or fall off. Some manufacturers recommend 3M Super 77 adhesive to reattach the anchor.

Plastic Shell Separates From EPS Foam:
You can use the same 3M Super 77 to reattach the plastic shell to the EPS foam of the helmet.

Strap Stitching:
If your strap stitching comes out contact the manufacturer about a repair or to order a new strap. If they can't repair or replace the strap, purchase a new helmet.

Repairing Damaged Foam:
There is no repair to the foam Core. If damage has occurred destroy the old helmet (so no one can use it) and purchase a new one.


How do I Properly Fit My Helmet?

  • You want the helmet to be comfortably touching the head all the way around, level and stable enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows and stay in place. It should be low enough on the head to maximize side coverage with the strap being comfortably snug.

  • Take your time to make sure everything is fitting properly. Everyone's head is different it could take ten to fifteen minutes or longer to get it right.

  • Use the Fit Pads: Helmets come with at least one set of foam fitting pads, and if your helmet came with a second set of thicker pads these can be used to customize the fit to you head. You can remove the top pad and replace it with a thinner one to lower the helmet on your head. This increases side impact protection but could reduce airflow through the helmet. Place remaining pads around the sides, front and back of the helmet so they all comfortably touch the head. The pads will compress over time but not enough to count on for a proper fit if the helmet is too tight.

  • Adjust the Straps: This becomes the tricky part and the most time consuming. You want the chinstrap snug against the chin, with the V of the side straps meeting just below the ear with no slack to let the helmet rock back and forth. If the chinstrap hangs down visibly or you can slide two fingers under it, it is too loose. Next, pay attention to the rear stabilizer if the helmet has one. It can keep the helmet from jiggling in normal use.

  • When you think the straps are about right, shake your head around. Then put your palm under the front edge and push up and back. Can you move the helmet more than an inch or so from level, exposing your bare forehead? If so you need to tighten the strap in front of your ear, and perhaps loosen the rear strap behind your ear. Now reach back and grab the rear edge of the helmet and pull up. Can you move the helmet more than an inch? If so you need to adjust the nape strap.

Just like a good pair of shoes or your seatbelt, your helmet should be so comfortable that you forget you are wearing it.