Summer Injury Prevention: Bicycle Injuries
Whether it’s a commute to work, exercise, or recreation, bicycling is a popular activity for many Americans. With the warmer weather that summertime brings, more and more people are spending time on two wheels. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 9 million bicycle trips are taken each day in the U.S., according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. A 2012 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes found that 18 percent of Americans aged 16 and older rode a bike at least once during the summer.
Of course, it’s important that proper care is taken to avoid bicycling injuries, particularly for inexperienced and younger riders. Bicycle injuries can range from cuts and bruises to traumatic brain injuries and even in tragic instances, death. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first ride or your hundredth: accidents can happen to anyone.
Bicycle Injury Risk Factors
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) identifies several risk factors for sustaining bicycle injuries. These include:
- Failure to wear a helmet
- Crashes involving motor vehicles
- Unsafe riding environments
- Riding at faster speeds
The AAFP also notes that certain groups such as children ages 9-15 and males are more likely to be injured in bicycle accidents.
Common Bicycle Injuries
As previously mentioned, bicycle injuries can span from very minor to the most devastating. The AAFP lists the following injuries commonly associated with bicycle accidents:
- Skull fracture
- Organ rupture
Bicycling Safety Tips
The good news is that many bicycle injuries can be prevented with a few safety precautions. According to SafeKids Worlwide, wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of head injuries or death when bicycling. The group also suggests the following tips for keeping children (and adults!) safe:
- Make helmets are properly fitted and meet Consumer Product Safety Commission standards.
- A properly fitted bike is equally as important. Children should be able to put their feet on the ground when seated.
- Always check your bicycle before riding to make sure gears, brakes, and tires are in good working order.
- Avoid loose clothing which can get caught in gears and chains.
- Before allowing a child to ride with traffic, make sure they demonstrate cycling competence and understand the rules of the road.
- At night, use reflective materials and a headlight so motorists can see you.