National Bike Month ended in May, but keeping cyclists safe is a year-round objective. National Bike Month was established in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists and is celebrated across the nation. Its purpose, among others, is to thoroughly demonstrate the benefits of cycling and encourage others to get involved in this healthy activity.
This year National Bike Month was kicked off in Indianapolis with the “2 Wheels 1 City” event, which is held on the first Saturday in May and hosted by INDYCOG. 2 Wheels 1 City is a day when bicycle shops, bicycle clubs, and bicycle-related businesses set up shop to educate the community about their organization and its activities.
Whether you enjoy bicycling because it is better for the environment, better for you or better for your wallet, National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate our love of cycling. We hope you will keep the celebration rolling through the summer!
The numbers of people who cycle is on the increase across the nation. More and more individuals are taking advantage of the benefits of cycling for health and recreation. The National Household Travel Survey reports that the number of trips made by bicycle in the United States has gone from 1.7 billion in 2004 to 4 billion in 2009. In addition, bikeleague.org reports that from 2000 to 2013 bicycle-commuting rates in large Bicycle Friendly Communities increased by 105%.
All states have seen a 46% increase the numbers of cyclists. Indianapolis ranks 51st on the list of Top 70 largest cities with an increase of 96.5% in bicyclists from 2000 to 2013. The overall percentage of bike commuters in Indianapolis is currently 4%.
Unfortunately, no matter how closely you follow safety rules and guidelines, bicycle accidents can still occur. Common causes of bike accidents include situations in which cars turn suddenly into or in front of the cyclist. Bicyclists are far more likely to suffer serious and potentially fatal injuries such as brain and spinal cord injuries. To reduce risk, it is important to do everything possible to avoid sustaining a serious injury in a bicycle accident.
The following safety tips should be practiced when riding your bike any time you cycle in Indianapolis.
Wear a helmet.
Always wear a helmet. This is the only barrier between your head and a source of impact. Without a helmet, you are far more likely to sustain serious brain injury should you be hit by a motor vehicle.
Drivers are not always paying attention. Make sure that you stand out by wearing brightly colored clothing, and reflective clothing when riding in the evening hours. Always use a front and rear light if you are riding after sunset.
Ride safely and predictably.
Don’t surprise drivers by swerving without warning. Ride in a straight line and never swerve between cars stopped at a light or moving down the road. Never enter a lane that could have incoming traffic without carefully observing the flow of traffic. Be predictable in how you ride. The more you act like other road vehicles, the easier it is for other road users to anticipate your movements.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
Accidents happen suddenly, so stay aware of potential dangers around you and be ready to take action to avoid a collision. Practice braking swiftly and other maneuvers that could help you avoid an accident.
Follow the “Rules of the Road.”
Always obey the rules of the road, and ride in the same direction as the traffic flow. Obey stop signs and traffic lights and use hand signals, as required by law.
Maintain your bike.
Maintain your tires, brakes and drivetrain to ensure that your bike is in safe operating condition. Riding on a poorly maintained bike can more easily put you in harm’s way. For instance, dropping your chain on a hill can cause an unsafe movement as you attempt to recover.
Use both hands.
Keep both hands on the handlebars and don’t develop the habit of riding with one hand. If you have an item to carry use bike saddlebags, a carrier rack or a basket, not your hands.
Keep your bike secure.
Lock your bike up in a well-lit and well-populated area. You can also record your bike’s serial number and have it on file should your bike be stolen.
It is important to bring a sufficient amount of water to stay hydrated. If the weather is warm, ensure that you drink water throughout your trip, and stop and rest at intervals to avoid dehydration or heatstroke.
If you cannot get a driver’s attention or simply feel unsafe, slow down and anticipate the driver’s next move. It could save your life and help you avoid a dangerous situation.