Today I want to talk to you about safety. Primarily biking safety, but some of these can be applied to other outdoor activities and just life in general. I decided to write this after a person on one of our bike club rides (I was not present but heard about it later) had a heart attack. They called an ambulance, but it took what seemed like an eternity to arrive, and in the meantime, the man quit breathing. One of the riders was a nurse, thank God, and she performed CPR until the ambulance came. He is thankfully okay, but he needed bypass surgery.
Now, it’s not that this person was being unsafe, but it made me start thinking about it because what if there had not been anyone on the ride who knew CPR? And what if it had been a bike crash instead of a heart attack? Or accident a car or truck? According to bicyclinginfo.org, there were 677 bicyclist deaths and 38,000 bicycling related accidents in 2011. These are just the reported cases, and actual figures are much higher. Interestingly enough, 80% of those injured were male, so maybe the best advice I can give you is “Don’t be a man”….HA! So what can we do to reduce the risk of becoming a statistic?
THE EASY STUFF
Helmet: WEAR ONE. End of discussion.
Okay, not the end of the discussion (you knew it was too good to be true). Seriously – God gave you ONE HEAD. Notice he gave you two eyes, two arms, two legs, etc. If He only gives you ONE of something, it might be a good idea to protect it. So use your head, and wear your helmet. Sure, you might look like a dork, but remember – Pride goeth before a fall – Proverbs 16:18. See, it’s biblical. WEAR. A. HELMET.
Mirror: There are a lot of great gadgets to buy for your bike (trust me, I have most of them) and it can be difficult to decide which one is worth your hard-earned cash. A rearview mirror costs about 20 bucks, and it could very well save your life, so it’s pretty easy to justify this investment. Of course, for it to be effective, it means you need to actually use it. Which brings me to my next item…
Pay Attention: Look ahead and around you for any possible issues like gravel, pot holes, or dogs. Look behind you for cars and other riders (using your rearview mirror, of course!). And if you ride with music, please consider unplugging, especially when riding on the road. Remember the head God gave you – the one you have your helmet on? Well, it’s full of sensory organs to help save your life and if one of them is getting blasted with music, then you can’t hear the impatient jerk in the truck behind you revving his engine, who will then scream past you, spitting out gravel, mud, beer cans, and language that would make a sailor blush.
Use A Blinky: A “blinky”, not a “blanky”. Although there are days I wish I still had a “blanky”. Anyway, a “blinky” is a blinky light. Usually clear or red, attached to your bike and/or helmet (currently residing ON YOUR HEAD) and has a variety of settings ranging from constant, to strobe, to chase, etc. If you can only afford one, get a decent one for the back of your bike. If you can afford more, then get a small one for your helmet and one for the front of your bike as well.
Be Seen: Besides your blinky, you can add to your visibility by wearing bright clothing. This is a no brainer for exhibitionists like me, but others may not be as comfortable wearing neon. It helps if yellow is your favorite color. Or you’re in a wedding party. Or a middle-aged gang.
Obey Traffic Laws: It’s very tempting for cyclists to invent their own rules on the road, feeding the road rage fire between cyclists and motorists. A small list of common infractions include blowing thru intersections, swerving around cars at a stop light, riding against traffic, crossing the road at a non-intersection, etc. WE HAVE ALL DONE THESE THINGS! And one day, it’s going to bite one of us in the ass. As much as I would like a reduction in the size of my ass, I don’t think I want the surgery done by a motor vehicle.
Road ID:There’s a great company out there called Road ID where you can purchase a wrist or ankle band that lists your pertinent info, ICE (In Case of Emergency) contacts, and medical history. It’s pretty cool, comes in fun colors, and it’s fairly inexpensive. When an emergency occurs, others either won’t feel comfortable or won’t have time to dig thru your belongings for your health history and emergency contacts. If it’s on your wrist or your ankle, the people who need it will find it. I just got mine the other day, in fact! And promptly forgot it on my bike ride tonight. Geez Louise.
Ride Together: If you are riding with someone and something happens, there is someone to laugh at you and pull you out of the pickers. Or maybe dial 911. You know. Whatever. Besides, what are you – a hermit? The most fun I have had riding has always been when riding with others.
Let Others Know Your Route: When your riding solo, be sure to leave knowledge of your route with someone else. If you don’t show up for work the next day, someone at least knows where to start looking. Scary to think about, but you need to think about it. I usually ride one of three routes when I ride alone – I like them and they’re easy for Dave to remember. There are also wonderful tools out there that allow you to map your rides and give them names. You can simply tell someone “I am riding Route Q on MapMyRide” and give them access to your account. Easy peasy.
That’s it for The Easy Stuff. My next post will involve The Hard Stuff and I don’t mean moonshine, people. I mean the stuff that needs extra time and commitment, and is often ignored because people just don’t want to do it.
Until next time – Let’s be careful out there!
- Lessons From the Bike Lane (thatswhatdomisaid.wordpress.com)
- A history of bicycle safety: re-inventing two wheels (roadtrafficsigns.com)
- Cyclists Encouraged to Use Care on the Roads (bostontrauma.wordpress.com)