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The popularity of bicycle travel still presents serious risks


While COVID-19 continues its ebbs and flows with numbers of cases ebbing and flowing, the need to get “out and about” continues for Californians weary of lockdowns. Bicycling grew in popularity during a time when fewer motor vehicles were on the roads throughout the state. It seemed to be the best “one-two-punch” of avoiding the virus, combining exercise and social distancing.

Motor vehicle traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels. Whether new to or experienced with non-motorized, two-wheel transports, accidents can still happen that result in serious injuries. Many emergency rooms continually filled with COVID patients may make the wait for medical help lengthy.

Staying safe on a bicycle takes many forms, particularly when cars and trucks are traveling more miles than they did in 2020. Throughout August of this year, miles increased by 224.4 billion compared to the same time last year. Streets and roads once sparse now have the same amount of traffic, if not more.

Strategies to stay safe

In addition to adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s recommendations, staying safe by avoiding injuries from an accident requires proactive measures. The all-important first step is a thorough pre-ride safety inspection of the bicycle.

Additional bicycle safety steps include:

  • Wear a helmet – Most accident-related fatalities result from head injuries. The mere act of strapping a helmet to your head can reduce the chance of trauma by 50 percent. When accounting for additional injuries to the face or neck, the odds are reduced by 33 percent. Periodic replacement of the headwear is essential, provided that it meets the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Be seen – Far too many motor vehicle to bicycle accidents are due to not being seen. While daytime is the safest time to ride, forward- and rear-facing blinking lights will make you visible to traffic behind and ahead of you during and following sunset. However, those lights should remain in operation at all times. Wearing brightly colored clothes with reflective strips can also increase the chance of being seen.
  • Stay alert and within the law – While riding with, not against, the traffic, keep an eye out for debris, curbs, potholes, sewer grates, and car doors. Knowing what is coming can help with effectively evading these dangers and avoiding a collision. Following traffic laws is paramount, as is obeying street signs, road markings, and signals while keeping your hands off the phone and on the handlebars.

Simple steps can keep cyclists, and other motor vehicle travelers provided everyone does their part.