Put safety first during National Bike Month

Bicycling is one of the best ways to get exercise, see the sights and reduce your carbon footprint. However, bicyclists face a host of hazards. They often must share the road with vehicles, and injuries can happen even on a designated path.

The number of deaths from bicycle incidents increased 29 percent over an eight-year period, from 793 in 2010 to 1,024 in 2017, according to Injury Facts. Of the 1,024 bicyclist deaths in 2017, 679 involved motor vehicles.

With about 80 million bicyclists sharing the road with motorized vehicles, it is vital bicyclists take safety precautions.

Check equipment — always inspect the bike before riding:

— The seat should be adjusted to the proper height and locked in place;

— Make certain all parts are secure and working properly;

— Check that the tires are inflated properly;

— Make sure the bike is equipped with reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes;

— A horn or bell, a rear-view mirror and a bright headlight also are recommended.

Plan to be seen — make certain drivers can see you:

— Wear neon, fluorescent or other bright clothing;

— Whenever possible, ride during the day;

— If you must ride at night, wear reflective clothing and use flashing lights.

Wear a helmet — helmets appropriate for bicycling should be worn by everyone, adults and children, on every bike ride regardless of length of the ride. Make certain the helmet is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Follow these guidelines from NHTSA to properly fit the helmet:

— Adjust sizing pads or fit ring until the helmet is snug;

— Position the helmet level on your head, covering the forehead and not tipped backward or forward — this will be about one to two finger widths above the eyebrow;

— Adjust the side straps so they form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of the ears;

— Center the buckle on the chin strap under your chin;

— Buckle and tighten the chin strap until it is snug — no more than one to two fingers should be able to fit between the chin and strap;

— When fitted, the helmet should not rock more than 1 inch side to side or front to back on the head.

Follow these rules of the road — stay safe by following these rules:

— Get acquainted with traffic laws — bicyclists must follow the same rules as motorists;

— Ride single-file in the direction of traffic;

— Remain alert, keep your head up and look around — watch for opening car doors and other hazards;

— Use hand signals when turning and use extra care at intersections;

— Never hitch onto cars;

— Before entering traffic, stop and look left, right, left again and over your shoulder.

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