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Bicycling is tremendously popular in the United States as a mode of transportation, a sport and a way to improve individual health through exercise. According to the National Safety Council, more than 57 million Americans ride a bicycle on a regular basis.
Because many of these bicyclists share the roadways with motor vehicles, the rules of defensive driving apply to cyclists as well as motorists. The road can be a dangerous place for young and old cyclists. In 2005, 1,000 bicyclists died after being struck by a motor vehicle and 51,000 suffered disabling injuries.
According to the National Safety Council, cyclists should take the following precautions when venturing onto a roadway:
- Obey traffic rules! Did you know that bicyclists must obey most of the same laws as motorists - including stopping for red lights and being on the right side of the road.
- Practice safe turning by using hand signals. Cross through intersections with caution.
- Always be visible! Wear bright clothing - even during the day. Operating a bicycle on the road at night is not advised. If it must be done, wear retro-reflective clothing.
- Ride in single file, with traffic...not against it. You should stay as far to the right of the roadway as possible. Keep a safe distance from all vehicles.
- Watch for hazards. Opening car doors, left turning vehicles, storm drain gratings, broken glass and other debris can ruin a great bike ride.
- Safety equipment! All bicycles should have a red reflector on the rear and a white reflector on the front. Reflectors should also be present on the spokes of each tire and on each of the pedals. A horn or bell combined with a rear view mirror also enhance safety. Lastly, check your tire pressure, brakes and chain to make sure they are in good working order.
- Wear a helmet! Regardless of your age! Head injuries cause about 85% of all bicycling fatalities.
Get additional bicycle riding tips from your friend McGruff.