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Front Page » April 28, 2005 » Local News » National bike month means safety for everyone
Published 3,467 days ago

National bike month means safety for everyone


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By CHARI JELSMA
Sun Advocate reporter

Helmets are an important part of safe biking regardless of the size of the cycle.

With National Bike Month coming up in May, bike safety should be an important topic on everyones mind. Every year, more than 100 children die in bicycle related accidents, and more than a quarter of a million are treated in the emergency room for bicycle related injuries. Of these cases, 47 percent have traumatic brain injuries.

In Utah alone, more than 2,400 children are hurt in accidents while riding bicycles, and unlike in many other states, there are no laws on safety or safety devices worn while riding in Utah. Since wearing helmets is not a law in Utah, parents with small children should always insist that their children wear a helmet.

Everyday in Carbon County, a child can be found riding a bicycle without a helmet or any other safety gear. With Carbon County being a small place, residents don't think about the danger associated with riding bikes.

A properly fitted bike helmet can reduce the chance of a brain injury by 88 percent, but only one in five cyclists wear one. A child without a helmet is 14 times more likely to be killed than a child wearing a helmet, and 45,000 head injuries to children each year could be prevented if all children wore them.

Approximately 90 percent of fatal bicycle injuries are involved with a motor vehicle. All children should be taught to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road, and should not ride without supervision until they demonstrate their ability to do so.

Vehicular danger does occur in heavily populated areas, but 60 percent of fatal bicycle accidents occur in residential areas and neighborhoods. These places don't have to be heavy traffic areas to be a danger to a child on a bike, because there is plenty of blind spots for drivers who are paying attention. Many injuries, including those caused by automobile accidents, can be easily prevented by wearing a helmet.

Children and teenagers that ride BMX bikes also have a higher risk of injury, and should always wear pads and goggles to help protect them from other injuries that don't occur with regular riding. Goggles can protect the eyes from flying debris like dirt and bugs when riding fast, while elbow and knee pads can protect from severe cuts and other injuries.

Local bike store owner, Danny Decker, can't stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet while riding a bike.

"The biggest thing to support safety is helmets, helmets, helmets, that's the number one things to support safety on the road," said Decker, who requires every rider in a Decker Bikes sponsored event to wear a helmet.

Every recreational store has many choices of safety gear. Not just helmets are important, there are several different kinds of pads and goggles that are also important to cyclists.

Parents should allow their children to pick out their own helmets as long as it has a label indicating that it is certified by a reputable company, because children are more likely to wear a helmet if they think it looks good.

A lesser known risk of injury can occur when the bicycle itself is not the right size for the child riding it. It can be dangerous for a child to ride a bike that is too big for them. The bike also should be maintained and kept in good condition with reflectors, good brakes, and properly inflated tires. For protection while riding at night, all bikes need to have reflectors to help them be seen by passing cars, and there is a federally required number of reflectors that have to be on a bike for it to be safe.


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