(AscendHealthy.com) – The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day — perfect for a trek outside with the family. Why not pull out the bicycles and take in some of the beautiful outdoors? Here’s how to stay safe, and on the right side of the law, when you venture out.
No matter what age you are, it’s important to know the basics of bicycling before you hit the road. Hand turn signals are universal across the United States:
- To turn left, hold your left arm straight out and point with your index finger.
- To turn right, hold your left arm out, with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and the hand pointing upward. Alternatively, you can extend your right arm straight out to the right and point with your index finger.
- To indicate braking, hold your left arm out, with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle and the hand pointing downward.
Teach children to use hand signals every time they need to turn, merge or stop, even if they don’t see any traffic around. Studies show repetition is the key to making good habits like this one stick.
Keeping Your Bike Ride Safe
Remember to take the following steps to keep your family’s bike ride as safe as possible:
- Always wear properly-fitting helmets. Make it a habit to require helmets every time the family goes for a ride, and ensure children know how to fit theirs properly. Helmets should be snug, covering most of the forehead, with the side and chin straps secure. Always replace a helmet after a crash, as it may have sustained damage that isn’t visible.
- Make sure your bike is in tip-top shape. The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission recommends that riders inspect their bicycles for any defects or damage before each ride.
- Plan bicycling routes ahead of time. This will help you and your family avoid confusion or panicked turns
- Double-tie or tuck away shoelaces before getting started. Shoelaces can get stuck in the bicycle pedals and cause an accident.
- Stay protected from the sun. Whether you’re bike riding in the sun or on an overcast day, always use SPF to avoid those harmful UV rays.
- Be sure to stay hydrated. If you’re bicycling on a really hot day or going a long distance, be sure to pack some water for the trip or stop somewhere to drink up.
Understanding Your State’s Laws
Bicycling traffic laws vary depending on your state. Some may even differ by county, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with local requirements and restrictions.
- Passing laws. According to Bike League, up to 40% of bicycle crashes are the result of cars attempting to pass them unsafely. Most states have laws to protect bicyclists from the potential hazards of passing vehicles, but 15 don’t have any specific provisions for bicycles.
- Helmet laws. Every state has its own laws, and some requirements vary by county. While all states mandate that young children wear helmets, other individual requirements can vary by age.
- Sidewalk laws. Depending on your state, you may or may not be allowed to ride your bike on the sidewalk. If you’re not with confident riders, you might want to stick to quiet streets if your state restricts sidewalk bicycling.
- Distracted driving laws. Your state might consider bicycles “motor vehicles,” which means all the rules of the road apply to bicyclists. Riding a bike while eating or texting could land you the same penalties as if you were driving a car.
Part of summer safety is knowing the rules and sticking to them. Get out there and have fun, but make sure you and your family understand your rights and responsibilities. Bike riding is great exercise and a lot of fun — but it’s up to you to keep yourself and your family safe while you’re out on the road.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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