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3 tips for effective bike safety

April 29, 2016

According to Statista, the U.S. bicycle market is worth an estimated $6.1 billion, with an added $5.1 billion in bike-related supplies alone. It's easy to see why so many Americans spend their hard earned money on bikes: Not only are they a great way to work out, but they offer a unique kind of freedom and a way to see the world. With May designated as National Bike Month, this is a chance to both reflect on the bike's importance to your life but also the importance of safety. Here are three handy tips for you and your family:

"Bike riding offers a unique form of freedom and accessibility."

1. Make sure it fits
Bicycle helmets are a must regardless of where and for how long you're biking. According to the Bicycle Safety Helmet Institute, you want to choose protection that is firm around the head and chin, but not so tight that it hurts. Your helmet should not impede your ability to turn your head or use your peripheral vision. However, you also need to make sure your bike "fits" as well. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that properly fitted bikes leave two inches between the rider and the top bar, or four inches for a mountain bike. Handlebars should be the same height as your seat, and you should be able to sit with knees slightly bent.

2. Think like a car
As the League of American Bicyclists pointed out, many states legally consider bikes as vehicles. As such, there are several rules that bicyclists need to keep in mind. The Washington State Department of Transportation explained that awareness is the bicyclist's' greatest tool. That means following the lane markings, like never turning right in a left lane, and never passing directly on the right. It's also important to scan not only the road ahead, but what's going on behind you. Hand signals are also important and, like lights on cars, go a long way to declaring your intentions. Making eye contact with drivers will only enhance this form of communication.

3. Take time to get ready
Any time you hit the road, you want to make sure both you and your trusty bike are ready for the trip. Bicycling magazine said that every rider should check the tire pressure prior to departing. Bikes can still leak air even if there isn't a flat, so consider adding air every trip just to be safe. As for the brakes, give them a squeeze to check for sponginess or stickiness; this can be a sign that the pads are worn. Just as your bike needs preparation, you should also consider what you're wearing on any trip. Aside from your helmet, Bicycling magazine suggested a few pieces of important apparel. That includes gloves, which help with grip, sunglasses to block out light and shoe covers to protect from wind and cold.

If you're an especially active bicyclist, accidents are part of life on the open road. If you do experience any bumps, bruises or assorted sprains, you can head to your nearest CareWell Urgent Care center. At any of the many locations across the East Coast, CareWell's team of physicians can patch you up and keep you pedaling right along. 

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