With the introduction of bicycle sharing programs popping up around the country, more and more cyclists are sharing the roads, making bicycle safety an ever-important topic.
The Level I Trauma Center at Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, sees many injured cyclists each year, especially from those not wearing helmets. In fact, in 2015 in the United States, about 1000 cyclists were killed and around 500,000 were injured in bicycle-related injuries.
70-80 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, yet only 18 percent of all cyclists wear helmets.
There are, however, simple safety measures that both cyclist and motorists should be aware of — especially during this time of the year when it becomes dark earlier in the day.
Bicycle safety tips
1. Wear a helmet
Most bike-sharing programs do not offer helmets for rent, so if you are choosing to rent a bicycle, be sure to bring your own helmet. Also, be sure to purchase a helmet that fits properly.
2. Use headlights
Purchase a front or head mounting light, preferably one that flashes, for use at night.
“If you plan on using one of the multiple shared bikes in the city, then keep yourself safe. Be alert and cautious at all times, slow it down, bring a helmet, carry a light if dark and follow traffic rules.” —Laura Bruce Petrey, MD, FACS, Baylor University Medical Center
3. Add a horn
Use a loud horn for a warning signal when riding, and avoid listening to music when riding on streets.
4. Ride with traffic
Always ride with the flow of traffic, never against it.
5. Signal your turns
You can use two options for signaling — for right turns, you can either straighten your right arm out in the direction of the turn, or you can bend your left arm 90 degrees. For left turns, simply straighten your left arm in the direction of the turn.
6. Don’t text and drive/ride
This rule applies to both cyclists and motorists. Always pay attention and avoid distractions on the road.
7. Use bike lanes
For cyclists, if bike lanes are available, use them. For motorists, avoid using and/or parking in these bikes lanes.
8. Be courteous
Motorists, remember that cyclists share the road. Keep a safe distance, especially when passing — only pass when it is safe and traffic on your left has cleared.
9. Obey all traffic rules and signals
Always STOP at stop signs and signal lights. Do not run yellow lights if you do not feel you are going fast enough to safely clear the intersection before the light turns red.
10. Leave space
When driving on a street with parked cars, be sure to leave enough room — about five feet — between you and the parked cars to avoid a suddenly open car door.
11. Avoid busy streets
If you can, avoid high-traffic areas and busy streets, as this can put your safety at risk.
Cycling is a great way to stay healthy and fit and can be enjoyed by persons of all ages. The Trauma Center at Baylor University Medical Center wants to remind everyone of these safety tips to ensure a safe and pleasurable riding season!
About the author
Evan is Supervisor of the Trauma Research Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas’ Level I Trauma Center. She graduated from Baylor University and completed her master’s thesis with the trauma department, before becoming a member of the team in 2014. She is currently working on her PhD in Health Studies at TWU.