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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting local journalists interested in Bike Safety

Slowly but surely, in my little town, we're getting the word out. Bicycles belong - safety matters.

When a local journalist contacted our bicycle club with questions for an article on bicycle safety, I jumped at the opportunity to contribute.

The following is a list of her questions in italics and my replies:

What is important about helmets in young children?Tennessee State Law (55-52-105) requires all bicycle riders under sixteen years of age must wear an approved bicycle helmet while riding on a public way. The federal standard for helmets was developed in cooperation with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A helmet should have a sticker on it that states it meets CPSC safety standards. Most helmets are good for 3-5 years unless damaged in a crash.

IN adults?Even very careful riders can fall or get hit by a motorist. Wearing a helmet will protect adults from head injury in the event of a crash. Since the majority of bicycling related deaths are caused by head injuries, the best insurance for a rider to prevent injury or death is to wear a helmet.

What are the essentials for bike safety?

There are four basic principles for maintaining safe cycling:

1. Maintain control of your bicycle - never ride under the influence

2. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic. When coming to an intersection - obey the traffic signs.

3. Be visible and ride defensively - bright clothing and lights are recommended

4. Protect yourself - wear a helmet

What are the points you make in your bike safety presentations?

Although it is legal to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk, except in downtown Murfreesboro, it is not a good idea except for young children. There are lots more obstacles to avoid such as parking meters, trees, fire hydrants, and pedestrians.

While bicyclists have the same rights as other vehicles to be on the road, they are also expected to obey the rules of the road. Obey traffic signs and signals. Signal when turning or slowing. Lights are required for bicyclist who ride at dusk or after dark. A white light on the front visible at least 500 feet, and a red light visible at least 600 feet on the rear are strongly recommended.

Motorists are required by law to leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycles of not less than three feet. Motorists should always pass on the left - as should bicyclists if they must pass stopped or slower vehicles.

Do you do a "check" of the bike before leaving? Are there safety checks before leaving? Make sure your tires are properly inflated - the PSI recommendations are usually on the tire sidewall and range from 35 PSI's for a child's bike, to 120 PSI for a road bike. Check your tires for wear in the tread as well as the sidewalls. Carry a spare tube and pump or air cartridge with you and know how to change a tire.

Check your brakes. Brakes should be powerful enough to bring your bicycle to a complete stop. You should be able to reach your brake levers easily.

Make sure your helmet fits properly. It should sit on top of your head, not to the back or to one side or the other. You should not be able to get more than one finger between your chin and the chin strap.

What gear should you have? The most important gear for safe cycling is a helmet. A way to carry water is probably next on the list if you plan to be out for very long. Lights and reflectors are good for early morning/late evening - and lights are required for riding after dark.

What are tips parents need to know when starting out with a young cyclist?

Tips for beginning cyclists as far as safety? Tips for general handling?
Anything else safety oriented you can think of...

For the last three questions, I directed her to several handouts from the Bike Walk Tennessee website.

And this is the resulting article.

The most amazing thing to me are the comments at the end of the article - or perhaps - the CAVE people do not read the Lifestyles section of the newspaper.

Contact your local newspaper and see if you can get a similar article published. It's good for everyone.

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