When you get on your bike, don’t forget your helmet! A research review of 63 studies shows that helmets clearly help prevent serious injury and death, but only if you’re wearing one.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of bicyclists traveling to and from work increased 64 percent between the years of 2000 and 2012. Those promoting healthier lifestyles and a greener way of living are happy that more people are not jumping in a car to get to work or run errands. But there also is a downside, that is, a number of bicyclists are injured and killed in bicycle accidents.

Bicycling Crashes Cost Lives, Productivity

The number is staggering. In 2013, more than 900 bicyclists were killed nationally. Another 494,000 people went to emergency rooms because of bike-related injuries. Data collected in 2010 estimates that nonfatal crash injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.

Colorado is known for its unbelievable scenic roadways, which draw bicyclists from all over the country, so the state is doing its part to educate bicyclists and motorists alike to help decrease death and injuries to those out enjoying a leisure bike ride or pedaling to work.

In 2009, Colorado’s Bicycle Safety Act went into effect. The legislation specifically outlines rules governing safe interaction of bicycles and other vehicles on state roadways.

Bicyclists Most at Risk

Data shows that those most at risk of being in a fatal bicycle accident are adolescents and young adults ages 15-19, and adults 40 and older. When it comes to nonfatal bicycle injuries, children ages 5-14, adolescents, and young adults ages 15-24 have the highest rates of injury. And, regardless of age, studies show that males are much more likely to be killed or injured in an accident.

Ways to Stay Safe on Your Bike

Wearing protective gear, including a helmet, is one of the best ways for cyclists to stay safe. One study notes that helmets, properly worn, accounted for 88 percent lower risk of brain injury in the event of an accident.

There are other things that cyclists can do to stay safe, including defensive driving. It’s something you hear applied to motorists, but it also applies to bicyclists. Defensive cycling focuses on the following rules:

  • Drive with the flow, in the same direction as traffic
  • Obey street signs, signals, and road markings, just like a car
  • No texting, listening to music, or doing anything that takes your eyes, ears, or mind off the road and traffic

Finally, one of the important safety factors when cycling is to see and be seen, especially at night. Wearing white does not make you more visible. For safety, wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night, and don’t forget reflective tapes, patches, and equipment. As the NHTSA bike safety review says, “Just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you.”

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