House Calls: Summer near, take stock of bicycle safety

Triplicate Staff

House Calls runs every other Saturday. Today's column is written by Quenlyn Larson, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Sutter Coast Community Clinic.

Summer is almost here, the perfect time to get out and ride bikes!

Bike riding can be a fun and healthy sport, and a great way to exercise. However, it is important to remember that bikes are not toys but road vehicles. Be cool, be safe and follow basic safety tips and rules of the road when you ride your bike.

Make sure your bike is ready to ride and that all parts are secure and working properly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa.dot.gov) recommends the following safety tips.

andbull; Remember to wear a properly fitted bike helmet every time you ride.

You want to protect your brain in case you fall off your bike and hit

your head. Head injuries can be serious if you are not wearing a helmet.

andbull; Adjust your bike to fit. While standing over your bike, there

should be 1andndash;2 inches between you and the tube (bar) if using a road bike

and 3-4 inches if using a mountain bike. The seat should be level front

to back and the height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the

knee when the leg is fully extended. The handlebar should be at the

same level with the seat.

andbull; Check your equipment. Make sure the tires are inflated properly and

make sure the brakes work.

andbull; See and be seen. No matter what the weather, make sure you can be

seen by others. Wearing white clothing does not make you more visible.

Instead, wear colors like neon, fluorescent or other bright colors when

riding during the day or night. Also, wearing something that reflects

lights such as reflective tape, or using flashing lights, can also make

others see you better. Remember just be cause you can see other drivers

does not mean they can see you.

andbull; Control your bike. Always ride with at least one hand on the handle

bar. Carry books and other items in your backpack or in a basket

attached to the bike.

andbull; Watch for and avoid road hazards. Look out for potholes, broken

glass, debris on the road, and even dogs as these hazards can cause a

crash.

andbull; Avoid riding at night. It is much more dangerous to ride at night

because it is harder for others to see you. Make sure your tires have

reflectors and that your bike has reflectors on the front (white) and

back (red).

andbull; When riding always go with the traffic flow. Ride on the right in

the same direction of traffic. Obey all traffic laws. The bike is a

vehicle and you are the driver. Always stop at stop signs, traffic

lights and follow signs and lane markings. Remember that when you are

coming from a smaller roadway such as a driveway, sidewalk or bike path,

always yield for traffic from a major road.

andbull; Be predictable to traffic. Ride in a straight line and signal your

moves to drivers. Stay alert at all times using your ears and your eyes

watching out for traffic and possible hazards. Look before turning, look

behind you before your turn, and signal to traffic. Watch for parked

cars and ride far enough away from the curb to avoid unexpected door

openings or cars pulling out.

andbull; The safest place to ride your bike is on the street where bikes are

expected to follow the same rules of the road as cars and ride in the

same direction. Children under 10 years of age are not mature enough to

ride in the street and are better riding on the sidewalk. Make sure

riding on the sidewalk is allowed and watch for cars coming in or

turning out of driveways or allies.

andbull; Be courteous to pedestrians. Always when you near pedestrians say

"excuse me" or tell them you are passing on their left.

Stay safe, be cool, follow the tips and rules of the road and have a

great summer riding your bike!

Email suggestions for future House Calls columns to Beth Liles at

Sutter Coast Hospital, lilesbe@sutterhealth.org.

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