MINNEAPOLIS – Bike riding is great exercise. Safety experts say it can also be dangerous.
In Minnesota, more than 900 people are injured each year in bicycling accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 48,000 people are injured annually.
Who's to blame for all the bike accidents? According to Minnesotans for Safe Driving and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety both the cyclist and the vehicle driver share the blame equally. The number one factor involved in most bicycle-vehicle accidents is failure to yield the right-of-way. Half the time the biker ignores traffic signs or signals. The other half of the time it is the vehicle operator who was inattentive or distracted.
Does your family need a refresher course on safe bike riding? Check out this video from Hennepin County Medical Center.
The Minnesota Department of Health says wearing a bike helmet is a good way to prevent serious injury in the event of a crash. MDH says wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by at least 85%. An estimated 500 bicycle-related fatalities and 151,000 nonfatal head injuries would be prevented each year if everyone wore a helmet while biking. This amounts to one death per day and one injury every four minutes.
Choosing the right bike helmet is crucial to preventing brain injury. Here are some links to help you make the right choice:
Bike helmets for the 2014 Season - Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute
Bike helmet fitting (poster) - Minnesota Department of Health
Fitting your bike helmet - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Rules of the Road for bikers and drivers
When it comes to safe cycling, the MN Department of Public Safety offers these rules of the road:
- Bicyclists may ride on all Minnesota roads, except where restricted.
- Bicyclists should ride on the road, and must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Motorists must at all times maintain a three-foot clearance when passing a bicyclist.
- Bicyclists must obey all traffic control signs and signals, just as motorists.
- Bicyclists must signal their turns and should ride in a predictable manner.
- Bicyclists must use a headlight and rear reflectors when it's dark. To increase visibility, add a rear flashing light.
- Drivers must drive at safe speeds and be attentive — look for bicyclists, check blind spots.
- Drivers should use caution and look twice for riders when turning.
- Drivers should use caution when opening door upon parking on side of road.