Ride On Insurance – 6 Bicycle Safety Tips

If you’re looking to get fit, slim down, or increase your cardiovascular health, there are few better activities like cycling. It’s easy on your joints, builds muscle, can help you stay lean and improves your balance.

One Good Turn Deserves Another

A 2000 study found people who regularly ride a bike for an hour a day have an 18 percent lower risk of death than people who never ride. Those who ride for at least an hour and a half have a 28 percent lower risk of death. Much of this reduced mortality may be owed to the lower incidence of heart disease this intensely cardiovascular activity provides. A study of more than 23,000 cyclists showed an 18 percent lower rate of heart disease compared to non-cyclists.

The mental benefits of cycling rival the physical. It can reduce anxiety and stress, boost confidence, make you happier, and help you sleep better. “’Any time you exercise, it releases endorphins,” says Allicia Austin1, an exercise physiologist with MD Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center. Endorphins can help you feel better when you are under stress, and “when you exercise outside,” Austin says, “you release serotonin in addition to endorphins. This helps manage stress hormones, which could help decreases your risk for cancer.”

Cyclists even have reduced rates of cancer. A 2012 study revealed that, independent of BMI, cyclists experience 45 percent fewer incidences of cancer compared with non-cyclists – the more they rode, the lower their risk.

The Other Side of Cycling

Unfortunately, however, cycling outdoors isn’t without risk of accidents and injuries. While Linda Degutis, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, believes “bicycling seem[s] no more dangerous than other sports,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which releases national traffic safety facts annually, said the number of bicyclists killed in 2015 rose by 12.2 percent from 2014, with 818 cyclist fatalities involving motor vehicles.

The worst cities for fatalities are Albuquerque, Tucson, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The nation’s capital, where city officials have pushed to improve biking infrastructure is among the safer cities to bike.

Weighing the pros and cons of cycling relative to each other is difficult, to say the least.

“It’s not that there is a lack of data,” says a New York Times article called How Safe is Cycling? It’s Hard to Say. “Instead, it is that the data are inadequate to answer the questions. No one has good statistics, for example, on crashes per mile ridden. Nor do the data distinguish road cycling on a fast, light, bike with thin tires from mountain biking down dirt paths filled with obstacles or recreational cycling on what the industry calls a comfort bike. Yet they are very different sports.”

The Secret to Cycling Success – 6 Safety Tips

For those who love cycling – either as a hobby, a means of commuting, or a sport – the physical and mental reward greatly outweighs the risk. Even then, it’s important to consider the potential risks of cycling each and every time you get on a bike. Here are some useful cycling tips on how to stay safe when you ride:

  • Wear a helmet. A 2016 study of more than 6,000 riders published in the American Journal of Surgery showed helmeted bicycle riders involved in accidents had 51 percent reduced odds of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), 44% reduced odds of mortality, and 31 percent reduced odds of facial fractures.
  • Bike sober. Not only can you get a DUI or DWI on a bicycle in many places, but you’re putting yourself at greater risk of injury and death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 27 percent of cyclists killed had been drinking, and 19 percent of cyclists killed had blood alcohol concentrations of 0.08 g/dL or higher.
  • Consider a coach or cycling training program – they’re not just for elite athletes anymore! Achieve Training Programs the official training sponsors of the Jensie Gran Fondo, facilitated by Dana Williams, who has been racing and coaching since retiring as a member of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team in 2001. You can find a certified coach or training program in your area by visiting USA Cycling’s “Find a Coach” feature. If you’re going to cycle regularly, it’s important to make sure your body is properly conditioned or you’ll risk getting hurt.
  • Obey the rules of the road. Amateur cyclists sometimes think they can get the privileges of both drivers and pedestrians when they’re riding their bikes among traffic, which is very dangerous. Make sure you know proper turning hand signals, don’t weave erratically among stopped cars, and utilize bike lanes whenever possible.
  • Invest in safety gear. Besides a helmet, a few key pieces of bicycle safety and comfort equipment can make sure your biking journeys are safe and pleasant. Reflective clothing will make sure you’re visible to others when the sun goes down. A blinking red tail light during daytime rides has become the standard safety protocol of most serious cyclists. If you commute or ride at dawn, dusk or nighttime, a headlamp will help you see any uneven terrain or obstacles in front of you. A water bottle–or two–will help you stay hydrated on longer rides, especially in the heat. A portable tire pump or CO2 cartridges and a patch kit and tape could save your ride if you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat. And it’s always a good idea to be prepared with a first aid kit, just in case–Brave Products offers a “Crash Pak” Road Rash Survival Kit for cyclists that fits easily in a jersey or backpack pocket.
  • Protect your family. As a cyclist, you may be eligible for preferred life insurance rates. It’s certainly worth making sure. Even though many people believe the health benefits of cycling regularly outweigh the risks, the risks of leaving your family without life insurance benefits is never worth the risk.

SelectQuote is proud to sponsor the 2017 Jensie Gran Fondo, in Marin County, California, on October 7. For more information about making sure you and your family are protected no matter where your bike takes you, contact us today at 855-272-6455 or get a free quote at selectquote.com  Ride on.

 

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1 Anderson, L.B., Schnohr, P., Schroll, M. (2000). All-Cause Morality Associated With Physical Activity During Leisure Time, Work, Sports, And Cycling to Work. JAMA Internal Medicine. Retrived from http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/485349.

2 Kerkar, P. (2017). Mental Health Benefits of Cycling: Is Cycling Linked with the Brain Power? ePainAssist. Retrieved from https://www.epainassist.com/mental-health/mental-health-benefits-of-cycling.

3 Hou, L., Ji, B., Blair, A. Chow, W. Commuting Physical Activity and Risk of Colon Cancer in Shanghai, China. PubMed. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/8219622_Commuting_Physical_Activity_and_Risk_of_Colon_Cancer_in_Shanghai_China.

4 Bicycle Safety. (2017). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/bicycle/index.html.

5 Kolata, G. (2013). How Safe Is Cycling? It’s Hard to Say. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/how-safe-is-cycling-its-hard-to-say/?mcubz=3.

6 Joseph, B. (2017). Bicycle helmets work when it matters most. The American Journal of Surgery, Volume 213, Issue 2. Retrieved from http://www.americanjournalofsurgery.com/article/S0002-9610(16)30366-X/fulltext.

7 Bicycle Safety. (2017). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicyclists.

14 Comments

  1. Ian Kinsman Reply

    the most important piece of safety equipment is not even mentioned here. I have a mirror that mounts on my helmet. This is easily the best bit of safety equipment I have. I highly recommend them

    • Rachel Spear Reply

      Thanks, Ian. That’s an excellent piece of safety equipment to include. Glad you’re staying safe on your rides!

  2. By all means get a helmet-mounted rear-view mirror! Would you drive your car without a rear-view mirror? On the bike it’s even more important.

    • Rachel Spear Reply

      Great idea Robert. The readers of our blog have the best suggestions. Keep on riding!

  3. Wayne L. White Reply

    Too many helmet mounted mirrors have a spindly connecting arm that vibrates due to road irregularities making a clear image impossible unless stopped. If the mirror’s mount is rigid enough to withstand a gentle touch without deflecting, it will be useless in regular use.

    Without a helmet-mounted mirror that is rigid enough to present a clear vison, consider a handle-bar mounted mirror. Less desirable is a bar-end mount. The view is excellent though you have to adapt to the obstruction next to your hand. It does clear up the bar for accessories, though.

    Strange as it sounds, check out a motorcycle supply store for such handle-bar mirrors. They are able to provide solid images even with motor and road vibrations.

    • Rachel Spear Reply

      Great suggestion Wayne! Thanks for passing it along.

  4. I agree. I tried and found that I can’t even ride without a mirror. It’s amazing that probably only 10% of riders use a mirror!

  5. James McTernan Reply

    I think you need a blinking headlight during daylight hours , in addition to the blinking tailight. I also find that wearing Jersies with letters printed on them is more visible than bright colors.

  6. Agree. I always ride with a sunglasses-mounted mirror. I believe it’s even more important than my helmet when riding on highways and country roads where one will encounter fast-moving vehicles coming from both directions. I’ve elected to ride into the ditch when a lane-wide truck or combine hauler appeared in the rear mirror. And, it’s valuable on the trail … as some hotshots will come up behind you at speed, and fail to give any “on your left” warning.

  7. Echoing what James Mc. said about the importance of a bright front blinking light, and here is why.

    A VERY common cause of bike accidents is autos crossing the path in front of you (“left hook”, “right cross” and others) at intersections, driveways, etc.

    ANY form of conspicuity also helps (e.g. bright-colored jerseys), but I think a super-bright flashing light is an important element.

    I don’t leave home without front and rear lights. There are many out there from the big brands like Cateye, Specialized and Lezyne and smaller companies too, like SeeSense (which uses sensors to adjust brightness and blink frequency).

    Mirrors are great also – they need an innovation to reduce their dorkiness but I use them on all my training rides.

    • Rachel Spear Reply

      Great tips, Tom. So important to be safe on the road! Happy cycling!

  8. Bob Azroff Reply

    In addition to front and rear lights, mirrors, and visible clothing, it’s imperative to learn when to take the lane and when to yield it. Inconveniencing a motorist by taking the lane is much safer than allowing a motorist to squeeze you to the curb because the lane is too narrow for both of you. On surface roads, it’s legal to do in every state in that situation.

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