Bike safety week
FTLComm - Tisdale - Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Saskatchewan Coaliton on Bicycle Safety have been sending me information on Bicycle safety week May 12th to the 18th and I was planning to do a story to promote the safety on bicycles. But I needed a picture or two to go with the story so this afternoon I parked the van almost two blocks east of Tisdale Elementary School.

I expected, that since this is the week to promote safety on bikes that the riders leaving the school yard this Thursday afternoon would be on their guard. The picture at the top of the page and the one on the bottom tell the story. There is one rider with a helmet and before this bunch came along a couple of solo riders heading east down the sidewalk were wearing helmets. But as you can see the riders distribute themselve all over the street. It has been my experience that were the van in motion instead of parked the pattern would be about the same.

Few bicycle riders in Tisdale, children or adults ride on the right side of the road, mind you we shouldn't be surprised at that because many of the car drivers exhibit the same disregard for lanes and keeping to the right.

Maybe we ought to consider the drastic consequences of such a purely preventable thing like being run down by a vehicle. Across Canada the medical bill for the survivors of car / bicycle collisions is $195 million with most of the injuries being brain injuries. Wearing a helmet reducs the risk of head injury by a whopping 85%. Every year about two people from Saskatchewan die in bicycle accidents with about 194 injured seriously. Below is a list of be seen and be heard rules put forth by the Coalition on Bicycle Safety:

  • Wear brightly colored clothing or a safety vest so other people can see you.
  • Put reflective materials on your bicycle and clothing. Some places include the bike frame, wheels, pedals, helmets, and ankles.
  • Reflective bands on your wrists make your hand signals more visible.
  • If bicycling after dark or in bad weather, turn on your lights. A white light on the front of your bike and a flashing red light on the back increase your visibility.
  • Ride your bike on the right hand side of the road, where drivers expect you to be. This means they will see you more easily.
  • Stay visible. Ride either well ahead of or well behind vehicles. Prevent putting yourself in a position where cars can cut you off when turning either left or right.
  • Have a bell on your bike to let pedestrians and other road and trail users know you are coming. A bell is legally required in some jurisdictions.

The Coalition have a lot to say about brain injuries and it would be a good idea ot look over what they have to say about prevention:

Each year in Saskatchewan there are more than 2000 people who sustain a brain injury. Prevention is the best "treatment" as many of these injuries are permanent. Wearing a helmet, while cycling, is one step in preventing these devastating injuries.

Did you know that research has shown that bike helmets are 85% effective in preventing head and brain injuries? Our brain can be easily damaged as the human skull is very thin and there is limited cushioning around the brain itself. If you fall or are thrown from your bicycle, your skull provides minimal protection when coming in contact with a hard surface such as the road, compacted dirt, rocks or another vehicle. Wearing a helmet not only protects against skull damage but, more importantly, minimizes the jarring forces on your brain.

Here is another reason to wear a helmet, almost 2/3 of those who die in bicycle-related incidents, are found to have sustained a brain injury in the crash. Children under 15 years of age have the highest injury and death rates associated with cycling activities.

Below are a list of things that will make riding a bike a much safer thing for you and your children:

  • Always use a bicycle that is the right size (rider should touch both feet on the ground while sitting on the seat)
  • Always keep bicycle in good repair
  • Equip bicycles with reflectors, headlights and bell or horn
  • Always wear a CSA approved, properly fitting bicycle helmet
  • Always ride single file on the right side of the road with traffic
  • Never carry a passenger on a bicycle built for one
  • Allow pedestrians to go first at street crossings and on sidewalks
  • Always watch for cars coming out of driveways, other streets and pulling away from curbs
  • Always obey traffic rules such as signs and signals
  • Walk bicycles across intersections and railroad crossings
  • Wear bright clothing and reflective stickers

With the price of gas being what it is and what it will become we are all going to find riding our bikes more and more attractive. I notice that there are a few regular bike riders who can ride safely down the street on the right hand side and who handle intersections with sensible caution but many adults wander around Tisdale like it was some sort of pasture. As an adult set a good example, ride a bike the same way you drive a car, keep to the right, stay in your lane and don't cut off corners.

Only a few adults in Tisdale wear helmets, I am one of those who does not and that's got to change, if kids see me and others riding around bare headed they will think that its alright to take that deadly chance so its time to get a helmet and wear it all of the time when riding.

Timothy W. Shire

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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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