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Suffering From a Serious Injury? Let Us Fight to Maximize Your Deserved Compensation.

What you Need to Know to Ride Safely

The majority of parents in this world teach their children many things in life, such how to ride a bicycle. Although parents have good intentions about teaching their children how to ride a bike, children are often not taught cycling skills that will keep them safe and reduce their chances of a Georgia bicycle accident.

Teaching a child how to ride a bike and cycling with kids is a very rewarding experience for parents, but parents also need to take the opportunity to teach their children cycling safety. This can also be rewarding for parents, knowing they are teaching their children skills that will last a lifetime.

While riding a bike may be considered an activity for children, parents need to let their children know from an early age that a bicycle is not a toy and that it comes with many responsibilities, including the following:

  • Following road rules, since bicycles are considered vehicles.
  • Wearing bicycle helmets, both because it is the law for anyone under 16 and because the helmet will protect their heads from serious injuries in the event of a bicycle accident.
  • Practicing safe cycling, like always stopping at stop signs.
  • Riding responsibly, such as wearing bright-colored clothing.

These lessons should be taught from the very first introduction to bicycle riding:

  • First, young children first be introduced to bicycles by being seated in a trailer or in a child’s seat on the back of their parents’ bikes.
  • Then, they may graduate to a tricycle.
  • After that, children will either ride a balance bike or a bike with training wheels.
  • Finally, children will graduate to a bicycle with two wheels.

Understanding a Parent’s Role

Riding with your children during each step is critical to their cycling safety. Along each of these stages, you should talk to your children and explain what you are doing and why. For example, if you are slowing, then mention to your children the reason, such as stopping at a stop sign or looking for oncoming traffic. Children will learn by your example. Additionally, you should caution your children about the dangers of cars pulling out of driveways and parking lots.

It is never too early to start teaching children cycling safety to help them avoid bicycle crashes in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. Although you may have had the best intentions in teach your children cycling safety skills, a negligent driver may have still injured your child or yourself. If you or your child was injured in an Atlanta bike accident, you may have rights to a recovery.

CYCLING SAFETY

Safety issues that children will need to learn about can include the proper way to handle a bike. Children need to learn how to handle their bikes to avoid obstacles and become familiar with braking and balancing on a bike. Safety can also include informing children it is safer to ride their bicycles with adult supervision or in groups.

Once a child gets older and begins riding in the street, parents need to instruct their children to ride only on low-traffic streets (i.e., residential neighborhoods). When children become teenagers and start riding further distances, parents need to remind their children always to ride with the flow of traffic instead of against it, and that they should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible.

PROPER VISIBILITY

Because many motorists have a hard time seeing bicyclists, especially children on bicycles, parents need to review visibility concerns with their children. When riding a bicycle, all cyclists should wear bright clothing and make sure they make eye contact with others on the road to verify that a driver noticed them.

It is also a good idea for parents to teach their children always to be scanning the road for traffic and for road hazards. Every bicyclist, no matter the age, should get used to checking to the rear before making a sudden move or changing lanes.

HELMET SAFETY

Parents need to teach their children from a very early age always to wear a bicycle helmet, even when riding in their own neighborhoods. Children should learn how to put on a helmet and how to tell if a helmet fits properly and snugly.

  1. Fit of the bike. If you have grown and are not sure if your bike fits you properly, or if you are looking at purchasing a new or used bicycle, you need to make sure that the bike is the right size for you. If you can straddle the frame while standing and have a couple of inches of clearance between you and the tube, then the bike has the proper fit.
  2. Condition of the bike. If your bike has been sitting all winter or if you just bought a used bicycle, you will want to make sure your bike is in good working condition so that you will be safe on the road. Over time, brake pads may need to be replaced—just as for cars—and cables may need adjusting. A bicycle shop can look over your bike, brakes, and equipment to make necessary adjustments so that your bicycle is in good working order.
  3. Tires. Tires can lose air pressure over time. Again, if your bike has been sitting all winter or if you are purchasing someone else’s bike, make sure you have your tires checked. Also, choose appropriate tires for the type of riding you plan on doing. There are different bicycles and tires for road cycling and mountain biking.
  4. Gear…and gears. There are two different types of gears that are important to a cyclist. First, have your gears checked to make sure you can shift properly. Second, get the right safety gear to wear for protection—including a properly fitting bicycle helmet. A helmet should fit about an inch above the eyebrows and the straps should be tightened down so that only a finger can fit between the strap and the chin.
  5. Clothing. Padded bicycle gloves and padded bicycle shorts or gear should be worn to provide extra padding and safety in the event of a bicycle accident. Also, enclosed shoes should be worn for safety. Wear bright colors when you ride a bicycle and make sure your headlight and tail light are working properly.

Before you take your next bike ride, please read these safety tips:

  • Follow rules: The rules of the road are not only for drivers of cars, but they apply to bicyclists as well. Stop at the red lights and stop signs and yield to other drivers.
  • Ride predictably: Bicyclists need to ride on the right side of the road in a predictable manner, which means no swerving in and out of lanes. Ride with the flow of traffic and not against it.
  • Signal your intentions: Bicyclists need to signal their intentions so that others sharing the road know what direction they are headed.
  • Wear safety gear: Wear a helmet to protect your head in case of a bicycle crash. Also, attach a rear-view mirror to your helmet. Wear reflective gear, and make sure that your bike has the proper reflectors and lights on the front, side, and back of your bicycle.
  • Pick the best route: When you are planning to ride your bicycle in Georgia, look for what the best route for bicycles. Pick streets with paved bicycle lanes that have less traffic.
  • Don't listen to music: Wearing headphones and listening to music while riding a bicycle is not safe. Leave the music at home so that you can listen to the road noise.
  • Check your bike: Inspect your bicycle's tires before riding, and replace any worn out or damaged component on your bike to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • Make smart decisions: Watch for potholes, parked cars with open car doors, obstacles in the road, and street conditions. Look before you change lanes. Never ride drunk.
  • Never allow your children to ride at night: Children should not be allowed to ride at dusk or dark, because drivers will have a harder time seeing them. Riding at night increases the likelihood of an accident due to visibility issues.
  • Always make sure your children wear bicycle helmets: Helmets have been proven to reduce head injuries from occurring in the event of an Atlanta bicycle accident.
  • Make sure your children follow road rules: Teach your children about the rules that bicyclists should follow when on the road. For example, children need to stop at stop signs, ride to the farthest right on the road, and avoid taking unnecessary risks.
  • Supervise your children: When children are riding bikes around your neighborhood, it is a good idea for you to be within eyesight so that you can warn them of any dangers.
  • Tell your children to avoid potholes and moving vehicles: Inform your children to watch out for potholes in the road, as they can cause accidents and throw children off bikes. Also, children need to be warned to watch out for and move out of the way of vehicles, even in their own neighborhood.

When parents take these steps, they lessen the risk that their children will sustain bicycle accident injuries. Therefore, be sure to talk to your child about these bicycle safety tips in order to prevent a bicycle crash in Georgia. Even if you have discussed bicycle safety with your child, there is still the chance that a careless and negligent driver will smash into your child's bicycle.

  • Follow the laws of the road - If you are riding a bike on the road, then you need to adhere to road laws for cyclists. Do not run red lights or stop signs, do not ride on crosswalks, and do not ride back and forth between the road and sidewalk.
  • Don't ride against traffic - Not only is riding against traffic illegal, it is also extremely dangerous. If a car strikes you as you are driving toward it, your speeds are combined, increasing your risk of sustaining serious injuries.
  • Don't hug the curb - When practical, do not hug the curb. By riding away from the curb, you not only give yourself more room to avoid hazards, but you also make yourself more visible to other drivers.
  • Don't sit in blind spots - When waiting at an intersection, do not stop between a car and the curb, as this places you in their blind spot. Stop slightly in front of or slightly behind the vehicle. Also, be sure you do not attempt to pass them until they are through the intersection, as they may not see you and may hit you if they are making a right-hand turn.
  • Slow down - If you are approaching an intersection, even if you have the right of way, slow down. Ensure the other drivers see you before entering the intersection. It may be inconvenient, but slowing down will ensure you have enough time to react if a vehicle makes a sudden movement.
  • Use hand signals - In addition to anticipating the intentions of other vehicles on the road, make your intentions known by using hand signals.
  • Ride as if you are invisible - Not all vehicles notice cyclists or realize that they must share the road with bicycles. Riding as if you are invisible ensures you will stay out of the roadway as much as possible so that cars, who may not notice you, will not hit you.
  • Get a headlight and taillight - In Georgia, every bicycle that is in use at nighttime must be equipped with a white light on the front that is visible from a distance of 300 feet. A red reflector that is visible from 300 feet is also required to be present on the rear of the bicycle. In addition to the red reflector, a red light may also be used.
  • Get a mirror - If you do not have a mirror on your bicycle or helmet, get one. Check it often and anticipate the moves of other drivers.
  • Make yourself visible - Whether riding during the day or at night, make yourself as visible as possible. Wear bright clothing or a reflective vest to increase your visibility to other drivers.

BENEFITS OF WEARING A BICYCLE HELMET

It is required that children under the age of 16 are required to wear helmets in Georgia when they ride their bicycles. This law was put in place to help protect children and save lives. According to the NHTSA, 178 children died in bicycle accidents nationwide in 2000 as compared to only 74 children aged 14 and younger killed in bicycle crashes in 2009.

These statistics show that child fatalities have decreased, which could be contributed to the new bicycle helmet laws and safety standards. Not only does a helmet protect your child's face and prevent facial lacerations, but also it can prevent head injuries in the event of a fall or collision.

Helmets are in fact the single most effective way to prevent head and brain injuries in the case of a bicycle accident in Georgia. Statistics show that bicycle helmets can save lives. They have been known to be about 85% effective in preventing long-lasting head injuries.

WHAT DO I LOOK FOR WHEN PURCHASING A BICYCLE HELMET?

Make sure your child has a bicycle helmet that complies with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). There will be a CPSC or ANSI sticker or label on the helmet to identify its compliance.

This indicates that it has been tested for protection, durability, and impact standards. The state of Georgia acknowledges Snell-approved helmets as well. The Snell Memorial Foundation has been recognized in the industry for having high impact standards, and its approved helmets have an even higher level of protection.

In Georgia, the law states that anyone who operates a bicycle under the age of 16 is required to wear a helmet. When purchasing a bicycle helmet for your child, make sure it fits properly on your child's head and fastens easily and correctly. For young children under the age of five, there should be a larger head coverage area. All helmets that you purchase should meet or exceed impact standards set by ANSI or Snell.

Some bicycle crashes in Atlanta may involve cuts, bruises, or broken bones, whereas other severe accidents may lead to serious head injuries and traumatic brain injury. Children need to always wear helmets, and it is recommended that adults wear them too. Helmets can play a substantial part in preventing head and brain injuries in both children and adults.

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GROUP RIDING TIPS FOR THE SAFETY OF EVERYONE

As attorneys, we strive to encourage bicycle safety for all Georgians. We have written numerous articles and blogs on this topic and have discussed bicycles and cars sharing the road better to reduce more bicycle accidents in Georgia. However, we have not yet focused on the safety of cyclists riding with other cyclists.

Cyclists often ride by themselves when commuting to work. But when riding for recreation, bicyclists frequently ride together in a group. Group riding can be dangerous, even though it is legal in Georgia to ride two abreast.

WHAT SHOULD CYCLISTS KNOW ABOUT GROUP RIDING?

When riding with other cyclists, all riders should pay close attention to traffic and use extra caution, especially when riding two abreast. It is best to ride in a single file line when streets are narrow, on two-lane roads, when traffic is approaching from behind, or when traffic is attempting to pass. If the road has blind corners or is a winding road, it is not recommended to ride side by side with another cyclist for everyone’s safety.

When riding in groups, you can avoid hazardous situations by making efforts to ride with extra caution. Start with these ideas:

  • Pay close attention to traffic. Moving motor vehicles approaching from behind can be a real danger to cyclists. Bicyclists need to always be paying attention to the road and traffic around them.
  • Leave room between your bicycle and another cyclist’s bike. Cycling too closely to another bike may cause the tires to touch and a bike accident to occur.
  • Warn other cyclists in your group about road hazards or approaching cars. Pointing to glass, gravel or other road hazards can help members of your group stay safe.
  • Check behind you—and to the left and right—before passing another cyclist. Never pass on the right: faster traffic always passes on the left. If you are a slower cyclist, pull over to the right to let faster cyclists go by.
  • Pull off the road. If you need to stop for any reason, do not stop on the road. Pull all the way off the road to stop.
  • Use hand signals. Signaling to riders in the rear of you that you are planning to turn or to stop is wise for everyone’s safety. Also, verbal reminders used in combination with hand signals are helpful to reduce bicycle collisions.
  • Ride predictably. Avoiding sudden movements, weaving, stops and turns will let other cyclists know your intentions for a safer ride together.

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