Cycling Safety


Safety Matters: One of the big concerns people mention with regard to bicycling is safety. In a world of motor vehicles, many of them moving fast, it seems like there are a lot of ways to go wrong on a bike. Fortunately, it’s not nearly as dangerous as it seems and we have some information and links to help you get a feel for safe cycling.

Helmet Position

Wearing a helmet helps a lot, but only if you put it on right.

The bicycle helmet isn’t just a hat and the way you wear it can’t be left to a sense of flair or flight of fancy. Too often we see people with helmets pushed back above their forehead — and especially when it’s the vulnerable skulls of children that are thus left unprotected, it’s cause for alarm.

The helmet has to be essentially horizontal when your head is straight up. Some say you should have two fingers-widths between the top of your nose and the helmet. The official rules for helmet adjustment go like this:

  • Fit comfortably touching the head all the way around; level and stable enough to resist even violent shakes or hard blows and stay in place
  • Adjust fit pads or rings to secure the helmet. It should sit level on your head, with the front just above the eyebrows or frame of glasses. If you walk into a wall, the helmet should hit before your nose does!
  • Adjust straps so when you look up, the front rim should be barely visible to your eye; the “Y” of the side straps should meet just below your ear.
  • The chin strap should be snug against your chin so when you open your mouth very wide, you feel the helmet pull down a little bit. (Bike Helmet Safety Institute)

List Of Resources

  • Improving Bicycling and Pedestrian Safety” is a great all-in-one resource. Its target audience is both advocates and transportation professionals. A very well-balanced and thorough guide – chapter 6 “Communicating between advocates and transportation professionals” is particularly good.
  • The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides standards that transportation engineers are compelled to follow. Advocates’ recommendations should be consistent with MUTCD standards, which do allow quite a bit of leeway for context-specific treatments.
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) website — lots of good information on a multitude of transportation-related topics.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center — Good basic information and lots of links to other information.
  • National Cooperative Highway Research Program (PDF, 5 mb) — This is a VERY comprehensive document regarding many resources concerning roadway safety issues. The first 20 pages (pages 11-35) are mostly general in nature and provide a very good summary of the issues. Page 41 onward is a listing of many links, references, and information.

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