National Bike Month: Ride to Stay Fit and Productive
Bicycles are a passion with children and a very healthy mode of transportation for adults.
In my childhood days, I remember pestering my parents to buy me a bike as soon as I knew what a bike was. I took the bike and started riding on the wrong side of the road without a helmet and sustained minor injuries. For a month, going near the bike was taboo and I kept looking at it with a sense of longing.
If bicycles were the only mode of transportation, there would be very minor accidents where people would escape with a few bumps and bruises. Most minor injuries can be avoided if cyclists wear helmets and adhere to all traffic rules.
National Bike Month
Although more than half of the U.S. population lives within five miles of their workplace, lack of knowledge and incentive has deterred many from commuting by bike. Hundreds of U.S. cities have been successful in increasing bicycle commuters by offering enticements on Bike to Work Day. Since 1956, May has been recognized as National Bike Month. The third week in May is designated Bike to Work Week and the third Friday of May is Bike to Work Day.
Here are a few compelling reasons to ride you bike more:
- Help the Environment: The bicycle is the vehicle of the future. It has a competitive edge in urban transit: it’s efficient, it’s economical, it’s healthy, it’s ecological and it’s fashionable and fun! Often overlooked and underrated, the bicycle is the simplest and most pleasurable way to get healthier while saving our environment and reconnecting with our community in a positive way.
- Improve Your Health: Over 66% of the U.S. adult population is overweight and 32% of us are obese, costing our nation $68 billion in health care and personal costs annually. Statistics on the lack of physical activity among children are also alarming. Most children are driven to school in cars or buses and one child out of every four is overweight.
- Save Money: Bicycle commuting saves on parking fees, parking tickets, fuel costs, auto maintenance costs and transit fares. In some large urban areas, it is possible to save over $200 per month on parking alone. A new bicycle and cycling gear pays for itself in a few months. Cyclists can meet all of their transportation needs with a combination of bicycling, transit and an occasional cab or rented car — all much cheaper than owning a car. Since the biggest costs of automobile ownership are paid up front (insurance and car payments), some people can free up about 25 percent of their income by getting rid of their car or their second car.
Important Safety Reminders
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines, all bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.
Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators and are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous — allow at least three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling out from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.
Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, dawn, and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.
Florida Among Top 3 States for Bicycle Fatalities
Florida is rated third in bicycle deaths, according to 2008 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Riding without a helmet or riding under the influence of alcohol are the primary reasons for bicycle fatalities. Alcohol involvement — either for the driver or the pedalcyclist — was reported in more than one-third (37%) of the traffic crashes that resulted in pedalcyclist fatalities in 2008.
Aftermath of Bicycle Accidents
In collisions involving a bicycle and motor vehicles or a fixed object, bicyclist injuries are more likely to be permanent, catastrophic or fatal. Traumatic head injury and spinal cord injuries occur at a higher rate, and broken bones and road rash can be severe, disabling injuries. Since Florida is a comparative negligence state — if you are partially at fault, you can still collect damages, but the award is reduced by the percentage of your comparative fault. For example if you are 15 percent at fault, you would only receive 85 percent of the damages determined by a jury.