bike safety

Bike Safety for Kids Overview

Why Bike?
The National Bicycle Safety Network (NBSN) http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/network/ describes some of the benefits of riding a bicycle.  Among them are, getting exercise and improving personal health, preservation of the environment, reducing traffic congestion, and saving money with healthy low-cost transportation.  The Network emphasizes the importance of bike education and that it has many goals, including introducing children to the fun and freedom of riding a bike, teaching how to bike safely, and teaching bicycle maintenance.

How Safe are Bicycles?
There are a lot of bikes on the road.  About 85 percent of households have an adult sized bike.  Every year 15-20 million new bikes are sold at a cost of about $6 billion.  According to a survey, approximately 57 million people, 27.3 percent of the population age 16 or older, rode a bicycle at least once during the summer of 2002. 

But accidents happen. Every year, bike injuries cause about 500,000 visits to emergency departments and about 300,000 of these visits are by children age 15 or younger.  Children are at particularly high risk for bicycle-related injuries.  At least 10,000 children have injuries that require hospitalization.  In 2001, children 15 years and younger accounted for 59% of all bicycle-related injuries seen in US emergency departments. Some of these injuries are so serious that children die, usually from head injuries.
Although more than half of bike injuries among children do not involve motor vehicles, bicyclists under age 16 still accounted for 11 percent of the 618 cyclists killed and 21 percent of the 52,000 cyclists injured in traffic crashes in 2010.

How to be Safe on a Bike

The U. S. National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration publication “Kids and Bike Safety” http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/ and Kids Health “bike Safety” http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html and the League of American Bicyclists http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/beginningcycling.php, are all good sources of safety information.

Since children learn differently depending on their level of development, The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has divided them into four age categories.  Each age represents an important rite of passage in learning to cycle effectively—from being a passenger and first encountering the bicycle as a vehicle, to learning to ride on sidewalks and close to home, to riding on streets, to riding more independently. For each age group the PBIC describes most salient issues and the most important skills they need to know. See http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/education/children.cfm

Ages 1-5
Whether a child is still a bicycle passenger traveling with a parent or adult on an approved child safety seat or just beginning to try riding under adult supervision, it's never too soon to start teaching her or him the basics of bicycling safety.

Although preschool cyclists do not have the cognitive skills necessary to deal with complex cycling situations, it is vital that this age group begin learning basic safety rules alongside fundamental motor skills. Getting a head start on safety now will put kids on the track to smart lifelong cycling.


  • Children under the age of one should never be transported on a bicycle. Until a child is able to hold up his or her head independently, do not allow her or him to ride as a passenger.

  • Most children under the age of five will probably not be ready to cycle. But for those who want to learn, they must always remain under the close supervision of a parent or other adult caretaker.

Tools and Skills


  • For the preschool cyclist, learning to control a bicycle while beginning to understand the ways to be careful when you cycle is the most important lesson a child of this age can grasp.

  • For preschoolers who are still strictly bicycle seat passengers, talk to them about safety as you cycle. Explain why you are stopping to look for traffic, etc. Remember, children will learn to do whatever they see parents and adults do!

  • Bicycles are fun to ride, but they are not toys. Teach preschool cyclists that bicycles are different from a Big Wheel or a toy tricycle. Never let them ride without an adult.

  • Teach the under 5 cyclist to balance and control the bicycle, to cycle in a straight line, to turn without falling, to pedal smoothly, to stop and start.
  • Teach the under 5 cyclist to balance and control the bicycle, to cycle in a straight line, to turn without falling, to pedal smoothly, to stop and start.

  • Teach preschool cyclists how a crash can happen and how to look out for things that could hurt them: Watch out for cars going in and out of driveways. Stay away from cars with engines running. Stop when you get to the end of a sidewalk or driveway. Watch out for other bicyclists and pedestrians.

  • Teach the under-fives to stay away from the street. Emphasize how hard it is for drivers to see little kids on bicycles and show them how they can make themselves more visible.

  • Teach the under-fives to stay away from the street. Emphasize how hard it is for drivers to see little kids on bicycles and show them how they can make themselves more visible.

  • Help children pick out the bike and a helmet that best suits their needs and size.
  • Explain why helmets are so important and must be worn at all times. Wear your helmet and set an example.

  • Help familiarize preschoolers with the different parts of a bike and helmet. Show them how to use the bike's brakes to slow and stop. Teach them to keep their hands and feet away from the spokes and chains. Teach them the importance of getting a bicycle repaired when something is broken.

Links from the PBIC for ages 1-5

Bike Basics: NHTSA's 10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety
Choosing the Right Size Bike
Choosing the Right Helmet and Getting a Child to Wear a Helmet:

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Ages 5 to 8
Between the ages of five and eight is the most popular time for kids to learn how to ride a bicycle. Make it the most popular time to learn safe riding skills, too.


  • Because kids' cognitive abilities—skills necessary to safely handle complex traffic situations—are still developing, children ages 5–8 are advised not to bicycle on busy streets or major arterials. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children in this age group stick to cycling on sidewalks only

  • Beginner cyclists should only bicycle with adults when learning to ride.

Tools and Skills

  • Concentrate on teaching the 5–8 year old to develop or continue to develop basic riding skills, like knowing when and how to shift gears as he or she pedals.

  • Teach the 5–8 year old to look behind herself or himself for approaching traffic, while simultaneously cycling in a straight line.

  • Teach 5–8's to recognize what can cause a fall and how to control a fall. They should learn how to spot roadway hazards and dodge them.

  • Teach 5–8's how to ride carefully on sidewalks, wet roads, and trails. Explain the dangers of night riding, such as low visibility and reduced sight distance, and make sure that this age group avoids riding at night.

  • Teach 5–8 year-olds about sidewalks, neighborhood streets, paths, trails, and what makes a good route. You can have them help you fill out the Bikeability Checklist to evaluate your route. At this age, they should learn what bike lanes and bike routes are.

  • Teach 5–8's to pay attention to and obey traffic signs, signals, and other markings.

  • Teach them the importance of cycling with traffic, not against it. Like all cyclists, they should ride on the right side of the road with traffic.

  • When crossing the street at an intersection or crosswalk, a 5–8 year old bicyclist should dismount and walk the bike, while taking care to watch for vehicles.

  • Teach 5–8's how bicyclists and drivers communicate and negotiate with one another. Show them how to use standard hand signals, and make eye contact before moving in front of a car. Explain that a cyclist cannot predict what a driver or anyone else in traffic will do. Emphasize the importance of always showing respect for others traveling on the road.

  • Teach 5–8 year-old cyclists to familiarize themselves with their bicycle and helmet. Demonstrate basic maintenance skills, such as patching tires. Teach them about the brake lights and headlights, how to carry cargo, how to use rain gear, and how to park and lock a bicycle.

Links from the PBIC for ages 5-8

Bike Basics: NHTSA's 10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety
Choosing the Right Size Bike:

Choosing the Right Helmet and Getting a Child to Wear a Helmet:


Securing your bicycle with a lock: http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/proplock.htm

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Ages 9 to 12
At what age is it safe for children to begin to bicycle outside quiet neighborhood streets and ride on the street instead of the sidewalk?
Experts differ slightly on this issue. While there is no "magic age" that determines when it is safe to ride on arterial roads, children in the 9–12 year-old age group likely have developed the cognitive skills that allow them to bicycle on the road.

Younger kids (under the age of 9 or 10) may not be able to judge motor vehicle speeds well enough to determine when it is safe to pull out into a lane, change lanes, or turn in front of a motor vehicle.


  • Children who are first learning to bicycle, no matter how old they are, should cycle with an adult until they attain the confidence and skills to ride on their own.

  • Good route selection should always be emphasized. Using bike lanes or paths, trails, and streets with less traffic is recommended. Even when cycling on the street or block where you live, the 9–12 year old cyclist must exercise the same degree of caution and defensive cycling that they do on larger roads.

Tools and Skills

  • When teaching 9–12 year-old cyclists, focus both what they need to know and also what they want to know about cycling.

  • Spark their interest by asking what they would like to know about cycling.

  • Teach them to seek out cycling knowledge by searching the Web, visiting the library, asking at a bike shop or community recreation center about cycling clubs and rides in their area.

  • Emphasize that it's important to ride with traffic-in fact, it's illegal to ride against it.

  • Teach the 9–12 year-old cyclist to hone advanced riding skills, such as selecting gears, learning how to ride in groups, how to follow another cyclist at a safe distance. Visit the League of American Bicyclists web site for more information: http://www.bikeleague.org

  • Teach 9–12's about lane positioning: how to look behind you (get and use a mirrior) before changing your position or lane, how to deal with right turn lanes when cycling straight, what to do when the lane is narrow and cars are parked in your way, and how to alert others in traffic to your intended moves.

  • Teach this age group more about their bicycle and its accessories. Emphasize the importance of getting to know your bike.

  • Teach how glasses and gloves can help you; introduce them to the option of special bicycle clothing; and explain how to maintain good hygiene even after a tough ride.

Links from the PBIC for ages 9-12

Bike Basics:NHTSA's 10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety

Kids and bike safety: http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/

Exploratorium's Science of Cycling is a large site that offers audio and video clips, interactive online content, and loads of images:http://www.exploratorium.edu/cycling/frames1.html

Choosing the Right Size Bike:

Choosing the Right Helmet and Getting a Child to Wear a Helmet:



Securing your bicycle with a lock:

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Ages 13 to 17
Cycling with more independence carries with it what can feel like a burden of greater responsibility. Cyclists hitting their teenage years are probably ready to cycle further and faster—they may be exploring bike racing, touring, or trail riding. But even though the teenage cyclist's skills and interests may have changed dramatically, they should be reminded that the rules of the road remain the same.

A great lesson for the teenage cyclist is to learn to treat his or her newfound responsibility and freedom as a privilege, rather than a hindrance. Risky behaviors put cyclists at the mercy of motor vehicles; teen cyclists should by all means enjoy the ride, but always keep their movements visible and predictable.


  • A bike is no match for a 5,000 pound vehicle. Most teenagers will learn to drive a car and get their driver's license. When they do, it's important they don't forget what it's like to be a cyclist.

  • Emphasize that cyclists in this age group shouldn't let the newfound freedom of driving get in the way of common sense; to avoid injury or worse, it's vital that as a motorist and as a cyclist, they should act safely and share the road.

Tools and Skills

  • Teach the teenage cyclist to continue to work on good riding skills: performing panic stops, riding in the winter and in inclement weather.

  • Teach teen cyclists about off road and trail bicycling.

  • Teach this age group the most important traffic laws for bicyclists. Explain different crashes—typical scenarios and crash types, and how to steer clear of them.  More on this is presented below.

  • Although it's not recommended for anyone to ride at night, show teenage cyclists how to be prepared if they ever do:

    • Use proper lights. Blinking red tail lights are better than stationary ones. A bright white headlight is highly recommended and even required in some states.
    • Wear retro-reflective clothing: reflectors can be worn on ankles, retro-reflective stickers can be affixed to bags or backpacks, and retro-reflective jackets and vests are available.

  • Emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet. Although helmets might not have seemed so dorky when they were younger, teenagers are likely to be tempted not to wear helmets. Tell them to think about how uncool brain damage is. Wearing a good-fitting helmet properly reduces a cyclist's risk of major injury and/or fatality by as much as 88%.
  • Explain that it is extremely useful and wise to brush up on bicycling safety fundamentals (look back to earlier sections and information that follows) when a teenager move to a city or college where he or she may not have a car and will be using a bike as a major mode of transportation.

Links from the PBIC for ages 13-17

Especially for Teenagers: Be Head Smart, It's Time to Start

Bike Basics: League of American Bicyclists information: http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/beginningcycling.php

Choosing the Right Size Bike: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/pages/Choosing-the-Right-Size-Bicycle.aspx

Choosing the Right Helmet and Getting a Child to Wear a Helmet: http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/bikemore/helmet.cfm


And to encourage teens to wear a helmet: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Bicycles/Ride+Smart+-+It's+Time+to+Start

Securing your bicycle with a lock: http://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/proplock.html

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Here are Safe Riding Tips for all Ages

  • Wear a Properly Fitted Bicycle Helmet. Protect your brain, save your life.  But not just any bicycle helmet will do.  It should meet U.S. government safety standards as shown by a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sticker. Your bike helmet should fit you properly, and the straps should always be fastened.  It won’t do you much good if it goes flying off of your head just when you need it most.  And you should wear a bike helmet EVERY TIME YOU RIDE, even if you are going for a short ride.  For more information see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication “Easy Steps to Properly Fit a Bicycle Helmet.” http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/easystepsweb/ and http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/bikemore/helmet.cfm

  • Adjust Your Bicycle to Fit. Stand over your bicycle. There should be 1 to 2 inches between you and the top tube (bar) if using a road bike and 3 to 4 inches if a mountain bicycle. The seat should be level front to back. The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended.  Keeping your leg is straight and just resting your heel is on the pedal common way to make this adjustment to seat height.  The handlebar height should be at the same level with the seat.

  • Check Your Equipment. Before riding inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly, inflate tires properly and check that your brakes work. You'll also want to make sure that nothing will get caught in your bike chain, such as loose pant legs, backpack straps, or shoelaces. Wear the right shoes — sneakers or bicycle shoes— when you bike. Sandals, flip-flops, shoes with heels, and cleats won't help you grip the pedals. And never go riding barefoot! Riding gloves may help you grip the handlebars — and will protect your hands if you fall! http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/better/maintenance.php

  • If you don't have a handlebar or helmet mirror, get one!  After you get accustomed to a mirror you will feel (and be) vulnerable on a bike without one.

  • Avoid wearing headphones. Music can distract you from noises around you, such as a bike catching up to you or a car blowing its horn so you can get out of the way.

  • See and Be Seen. Whether daytime, dawn, dusk, foul weather, or at night, you need to be seen by others. Wearing white has not been shown to be the best way to make you more visible. Rather, it is better to wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. Also wear something that reflects light, such as reflective tape or markings, or flashing lights. Remember, just because you can see a driver doesn’t mean the driver can see you. Wearing bright clothes and putting reflectors on your bike also can help you stay safe. It helps other people on the road see you. And if they see you, that means they're less likely to run into you. Daytime riding is the safest so try to avoid riding your bike at dusk and later.

  • Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. Carry books and other items
    in a bicycle carrier or backpack.

  • Watch for and Avoid Road Hazards. Be on the lookout for hazards such as potholes, broken glass, gravel, puddles, leaves, and dogs. All these hazards can cause a crash. If you are riding with friends and you are in the lead, yell out and point to the hazard to alert the riders behind you.

  • Avoid Riding at Night. It is far more dangerous to ride at night than during the day because you are harder for others to see. If you have to ride at night, wear something that makes you more easily seen by others. Make sure you have reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle (white lights on the front and
    red rear reflectors are required by law in many States), in addition to reflectors on your tires, so others can see you. Better yet, get front and rear blinking lights.

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Rules of the Road – Bicycling on the Road

Many bicycle-related crashes resulting in injury or death are associated with the bicyclist’s behavior, including such things as not wearing a bicycle helmet, riding into a street without stopping, turning left or swerving into traffic that is coming from behind, running a stop sign, and riding the wrong way in traffic. To maximize your safety, always wear a helmet AND follow the rules of the road.

Bicycles in many States are considered vehicles, and cyclists have the same rights and the same responsibilities to follow the rules of the road as motorists.

When riding, always:

  • Go With the Traffic Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow-not against it.

  • Obey All Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and you’re a driver. When you ride in the street, obey all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.

  • Yield to Traffic When Appropriate. Almost always, drivers on a smaller road must yield (wait) for traffic on a major or larger road. If there is no stop sign or traffic signal and you are coming from a smaller roadway (out of a driveway, from a sidewalk, a bike path, etc.), you must slow down and look to see if the way is clear before proceeding. This also means yielding to pedestrians who have already entered a crosswalk.
  • Be Predictable. Ride in a straight line, not in and out of cars. Signal your moves to others.

  • Stay Alert at All Times. Use your eyes AND ears. Watch out for potholes, cracks, wet leaves, storm grates, railroad tracks, or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. You need your ears to hear traffic and avoid dangerous situations; don’t wear a headset when you ride.
  • Look Before Turning. When turning left or right, always look behind you for a break in traffic, then signal before making the turn. Watch for left- or right-turning traffic.
  • Watch for Parked Cars. Ride far enough out from the curb to avoid the unexpected from parked cars (like doors opening, or cars pulling out).

  • Always ride with your hands on the handlebars.

  • Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving your driveway, an alley, or a curb.

  • Walk your bike across busy intersections using the crosswalk and following traffic signals.

  • Ride on the right-hand side of the street, so you travel in the same direction as cars do. Never ride against traffic.

  • Use bike lanes or designated bike routes wherever you can.

  • Don’t ride too close to parked cars. Doors can open suddenly.

  • Stop at all stop signs and obey traffic (red) lights just as cars do.

  • Ride single-file on the street with friends.

  • When passing other bikers or people on the street, always pass to their left side, and call out “On your left!” so they know that you are coming.  And if you have one, use your bell or horn

Sidewalk versus Street Riding

  • The safest place for bicycle riding is on the street, where bicycles are expected to follow the same rules of the road as motorists and ride in the same direction.

  • Children less than 10 years old, however, are not mature enough to make the decisions necessary to safely ride in the street.

  • Children less than 10 years old are better off riding on the sidewalk.

For anyone riding on a sidewalk:

  • Check the law in your State or jurisdiction to make sure sidewalk riding is allowed.

  • Watch for vehicles coming out of or turning into driveways.

  • Stop at corners of sidewalks and streets to look for cars and to make sure the drivers see you before crossing.

  • Enter a street at a corner and not between parked cars. Cross at intersections, when you pull out between parked cars, drivers can't see you coming.  Many times walking your bike across an intersection may be the safest approach.

Hand Signals

It will also help to learn some hand signals. These are like turn signals and brake lights for bikers. It helps cars and trucks know what you will do next, so they don't run into you.  Pictures of the hand signal positions can be found at: http://kidshealth.org/kid/watch/out/bike_safety.html#

In his essay “How Not to Get Hit by Cars”  Michael Bluejay provides advice about avoiding specific situations that cause crashes.  The details can be accessed at http://bicyclesafe.com/#reprint

He notes that “wearing a helmet will do absolutely nothing to prevent you from getting hit by a car.”  And although “helmets might help you if you get hit, but your #1 goal should be to avoid getting hit in the first place.  Plenty of cyclists are killed by cars even though they were wearing helmets.”

He also points out that following the law is not enough to keep you safe.  For example: The law tells you to ride as far to the right as is practicable.  But if you ride too far to the right, someone exiting a parked car could open their door right in front of you, and you'll be less visible to motorists pulling out of driveways and parking lots, and motorists coming from behind may pass you way too closely in the same lane because you didn't make them change lanes.  In each of these cases you were following the law, but you made it easier for yourself to get hit. 

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Bluejay describes collision types and how to avoid them:

Collision type number 1: “The Right Cross” is when A car is pulling out of a side street, parking lot, or driveway on the right.  Either you're in front of the car and the car hits you, or the car pulls out in front of you and you slam into it. This is the most common way to get hit.

To avoid the right cross 1. Get a headlight.  If you're riding at night a front headlight is required by law and for daytime riding, a bright white light that has a flashing mode can make you more visible to motorists. 2. Wave.  If you can't make eye contact with the driver. Get a bells or horn, it might be heard.  3. Slow down.  So you can completely stop if you have to.  4. Ride further left.  The farther left you are the more likely the driver will see you and if the motorist doesn't see you and starts pulling out, you may be able to go even farther left, or may be able to speed up and get out of the way.

Collision type number 2: “The Door Prize” collision occurs when a driver opens his door right in front of you and you run right into it if you can't stop in time. 

To avoid being  “doored” ride far enough to the left that you won't run into any door that's opened unexpectedly and watch for occupied cars where the driver or a passenger my get out without looking for a passing bike.

Collision type number 3: “The Crosswalk Slam” occurs when you are riding on a sidewalk you cross the street at a crosswalk, and a car makes a right turn, right into you.

To avoid this collision is very simple, don’t ride on sidewalks, it is estimated that sidewalk-riding is twice as dangerous as road riding.  If you do ride on the sidewalk make sure when you do cross a street or driveway that you slow down considerably and that you check the traffic in all directions, especially behind you if you're riding with the flow of traffic.

Collision type #4: “The Wrong-Way Wreck” occurs when you are riding the wrong way (against traffic, on the left-hand side of the street) and you are hit by a car making a right turn. They didn't see you because they were looking for traffic only on their left, not on their right. They had no reason to expect that someone would be coming at them from the wrong direction. You could also be hit by a car on the same road coming at you from straight ahead of you. Nearly one-fourth of crashes involve cyclists riding the wrong way. One study showed that riding the wrong way was three times as dangerous as riding the right way, and for kids, the risk was seven times greater. 

To avoid this collision don't ride against traffic, ride with traffic, in the same direction.

Collision type #5: “The Red Light of Death” occurs when You stop to the right of a car that's already waiting at a red light or stop sign. They can't see you. When the light turns green, you move forward, and then they turn right, right into you. Don't count on drivers to signal! They don't. Assume that a car can turn right at any time.  This scenario is especially dangerous when it's a bus or a semi that you're stopping next to.

To avoid this collision Don't stop in the blind spot. Simply stop behind a car.  If you do end up to the right of a car pull forward enough that first car can see you (and ride quickly through the light when the light changes).  Alternatively, you could stop far enough behind the first car that a second car can see you.  In this case when the light turns green, DON'T pass the car in front of you -- stay behind it, because it might turn right at any second.

Collision type #6: “The right Hook-version 1” occurs when A car passes you and then tries to make a right turn directly in front of you, or right into you. They think you're not going very fast just because you're on a bicycle, so it never occurs to them that they can't pass you in time. Even if you have to slam on your brakes to avoid hitting them, they often won't feel they've done anything wrong.

This kind of collision is very hard to avoid because you typically don't see it until the last second, and because there's nowhere for you to go when it happens.  To avoid this type of collision 1. Don't ride on the sidewalk. 2. Ride to the left. Taking up the whole lane makes it harder for drivers to pass you to cut you off or turn into you. And 3. Look in your mirror before approaching an intersection. (If you don't have a handlebar or helmet mirror, get one.) Be sure to look in your mirror well before you get to the intersection. When you're actually going through an intersection, you'll need to be paying very close attention to what's in front of you.

Collision type # 7: “The Right Hook-version 2” occurs when you are passing a slow-moving car, or another bike, on the right, when it unexpectedly makes a right turn right into you, trying to get to a parking lot, driveway or side street. 

Avoiding this type of collision is easy: 1. Don't pass on the right. When passing cyclists on the left, announce "on your left" before you start passing.  If they're riding too far to the left for you to pass safely on the left, then announce "on your right" before passing on the right.  If several cars are stopped at a light, then you can try passing on the right cautiously. Remember that you risk #3, the Red Light of Death.  Note that when you're tailing a slow-moving vehicle, ride behind it, not in its blind spot immediately to the right of it. 2. Look behind you before turning right.

Collision type #8: “The Left Cross” occurs when A car coming towards you makes a left turn right in front of you, or right into you.  Studies have shown that drivers making left turns look for cars and often do not see bikes or pedestrians. 

To avoid this type of collision, 1. Don't ride on the sidewalk. 2. Get and use a headlight. 3. Wear something bright, even during the day. 4. Don't pass on the right. And 5. Slow down. If you can't make eye contact with the driver (especially at night), slow down so much that you're able to completely stop if you have to.

Collision type #9: “The Rear End-version 1” occurs when struck from behind by a car, perhaps when you move left on the road. 

To avoid this type of collision, 1. Never, ever move left, even a little, without looking behind you first.  2. Don't swerve in and out of the parking lane if it contains any parked cars,  3. Use your mirror, and 4. Signal. Never move left without signaling. Just put your left arm straight out. Be sure to check your mirror or look behind you before signaling.

Collision type #10:
“The Rear End-version 2” occurs when A car runs into you from behind. Fortunately this type of collision is not common.  But avoiding this collision is difficult because you're not usually looking behind you. The risk is likely greater at night. 

To avoid this type of collision, 1. Get a rear light. If you're riding at night, you absolutely should use a flashing red rear light. 2. Wear a reflective vest or a safety triangle. 3. Choose wide streets. 4. Choose slow streets. 5. Use back streets on weekends. 6. Get and use a mirror. 7. Don't hug the curb.

Collision type #11:
“U-Turned Into” occurs when you want to make a left turn on to a road, you see nothing coming from your left and you slowly enter the road way, but a car on the right side of the road you think will go past suddenly pulls a U-turn and hits you. 

To avoid this type of collision wait until the road is clear in both directions, don’t assume you can predict the behavior of drivers or that they will signal.

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Here are some more safe riding tips based on advice from Michael Bluejay:

  • Avoid busy streets. It is better to cross the busiest streets than to travel on them.

  • Light up.This may seem obvious but most night-time cyclists ride without lights.  Bike shops have front white and rear red LED blinkies for about $25.

  • Take the whole lane when appropriate. It’s often safer to take the whole lane, or at least ride a little bit to the left, rather than hug the right curb. Cars at intersections will see you better, especially left turners, overtaking cars will change lanes rather than “buzz” you as they pass you inches away, and you won’t be “doored”. On wide roadways with few intersections/driveways, right further right.  On narrow roads with lots of intersections, ride farther to the left.   It’s not always better to take the lane or to hug the curb; it depends on the roadway you’re on.

  • Signal your turns. You're less likely to get hit when your movement doesn't take motorists by surprise. Let them know you're about to turn or move left or right by signaling with your arm. Point your left arm out to move left, and point your right arm out to move right. (You might have learned an old way of signaling a right turn with your left arm raised and bent at the elbow, but many drivers have no idea what that means. Signal a right turn with your right arm.) Before signaling left, be sure to check your mirror or look behind you before signaling (since a car passing too closely can take your arm out).

  • Don’t use music players and mobile phones. It's more important to hear what's around you when you're biking than when you're driving. Riding with headphones is your choice, but doing so does increase your risk. Similarly, texting or talking with a mobile phone raises the risk level. When you're mixing with car traffic, the fewer distractions the better. Also, you'll want both hands free in case you have to brake suddenly.

  • Ride as if you were invisible. It's often helpful to ride in such a way that motorists won't hit you even if they don't see you. You're not trying to be invisible, you're trying to make it irrelevant whether cars see you or not. If you ride in such a way that a car has to see you to take action to avoid hitting you (e.g., by their slowing down or changing lanes), then that means they will definitely hit you if they don't see you. But if you stay out of their way, then you won't get hit even if they didn't notice you were there.

    On very fast roads cars have less time to see you because they're approaching so fast. Of course, you should avoid fast roads in the first place if at all possible, unless there's plenty of room for a car and a bike side by side. And if there IS such room, then on fast roadways, you can practice invisibility by riding to the extreme right. If you're far enough right that you're not in the part of the lane the cars are in, then they'll zoom by and won't hit you, even if they never saw you.

    Here's another example: It's a good idea to signal a left turn, but it's a better idea to make your left turn at a time or place where there aren't cars behind you that could hit you while you're stopped and waiting to make that turn. You can hang out in the middle of the street, stopped, with your left arm out, waiting to make your turn, but you're counting on cars behind you to see you and stop. If they don't see you, you're in trouble.

    Running red lights is not legal or advisable, but if you're the kind of person who does, then apply the invisibility principle when deciding on whether to run a particular light: Could any cross traffic possibly hit me if I were invisible? If yes, then absolutely don't do it. Never make a car have to slow down to avoid hitting you (red light or not). Remember, the more you rely on cars to see you to avoid hitting you, the more chances they'll have to actually do so.

    Remember, you're not trying to BE invisible, you're just riding with the assumption that cars can't see you. Of course, you certainly want them to see you, and you should help them with that. That's why you'll wave to motorists whom you think might be about to pull out in front of you, and why you'll be lit up like a Christmas tree at night (front and rear lights).
    Remember that in many cases you'll need to take the lane, in which case you're counting on motorists to see you.

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More Sources for Facts About Bicycling

Choosing a helmet:

The PBIC Video Library offers a number of educational videos aimed at teaching children about safe bicycling practices:

  • Ride Smart: It's Time to Start: This fast-paced bicycle safety video uses humor, real-life examples, computer graphics, and a peer-to-peer approach to teach children and youth how wearing a bicycle helmet can protect them from serious injuries.
  • Fitting a Bicycle Helmet: This video demonstrates step by step, how to properly fit a bicycle helmet.
  • Bike Safe Bike Smart: This entertaining, yet instructional, bicycle safety video uses a visually stimulating, peer-to-peer approach to teach elementary and middle school age audiences how to Bike Safe. Bike Smart.
  • Danger Rangers Bike Safety: The Danger Rangers help kids have fun and stay safe! This PSA reminds kids to wear their helmets whenever they ride their bike, skateboard, or scooter

Walk and Ride - Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety: Important tips for children to stay safe when biking and walking to school(also available in Spanish).

CDC at www.cdc.gov/ncipc/bike

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at www.bicyclinginfo.org

Insurance Institute for highway Safety at www.iihs.org

U.S. Department of Transportation’s NCSA at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Bicycles
2002 National Survey of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Attitudes and Behaviors at www.bts.gov/programs/omnibus_surveys/targeted_survey/2002_ national_survey_of_pedestrian_and_bicyclist_attitudes_and_behaviors

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