There are a few sure signs of spring – the swallows return to Capistrano, the trees begin to bud, and you see more bicycles on the road. To kick off the season, May is National Bike Month – time to get your bike tuned up so you can participate in Bike to School Day on May 10, Bike to Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike to Work Day on May 19!
And as part of our spring ritual, we like to gather some good resources for everything you need to know to have bike ship-shape and road-ready for the good weather ahead.
Consumer Reports has a special August feature on the importance of bike helmets noting that, “More head injuries occur in biking than in any other sport—and bike helmets can save your life.” They cite data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: 60% of people who died in a bike accident in 2014 were not wearing a helmet. See our prior post on biking fatalities. The Consumer Reports article talk about some of the newer bicycle helmets and the protection they offer, along with ratings of 35 helmets.
But it’s not just enough to get a helmet, to ensure maximum protection, it’s important to get the right bike helmet fit. Consumer Reports offers the following tips for finding the right bike helmet fit:
»The helmet must be level on your head.
»The front edge should be no more than an inch or so above your eyebrows.
»The strap should fit closely under your chin.
»Straps should meet just below your jaw and in front of your ears, forming a V under your earlobes.
A fabulous resource for everything bicycle-helmet related is Helmets.org, a non-profit consumer-funded helmet advocacy program of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. It includes the latest research, innovations in helmet safety – pretty much anything you could ever want to know about helmets. They offer a great page on how to fit a bicycle helmet. Below, we feature a short clip on how to fit and secure bike helmets for kids.
No state laws require adults to wear bicycle helmets, but many states have requirements for children – see your state bicycle helmet law. Even if there is no state law, you might also want to check local ordinances.
May is National Bike Month and this week – May 11 to 15 – is Bike to Work Week, culminating in Bike to Work Day, on Friday, May 15. Biking instead of driving is good for the environment and good for you, too! We’ve gathered some links to New England resources to find local events and resources.
Don’t forget to protect your investment – the Insurance Information Institute offers a rundown on Bicycle Safety and Insurance. They note that: “Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.” But if you are a serious biker with very expensive, high-end bikes, you might want to talk to your agent about a rider to your policy to get additional coverage. To further protect your investment, consider registering your bike at the National Bike Registry.
More and more bikers are taking to the roads. That’s good for many reasons: it’s an an environment-friendly transportation option, it’s economical and it offers health and cardio benefits to the rider.
There’s a flip side of the coin, though. According to a new report from the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicyclist Safety. The report notes that, “… yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle fatalities increased just one percent during the same time period.”
The report also notes that some groups are at higher risk.
In 1975, adults represented only 21% of all fatalities; On 1974, adults repreent 74% of all fatalities.
Bicycle fatalities are increasingly an urban phenomenon, accounting for 69 percent of all bicycle fatalities in 2012, compared with 50 percent in 1975.
While bicyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes increased in 22 states between 2010 and 2012, six states – California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas – represented 54 percent of all fatalities.
In looking at prevention, these rather shocking stats from 2012 are significant:
Two-thirds or more of fatally injured bicyclists were not wearing helmets
28% of riders age 16+ had blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher, compared with 33 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers.
May is National Bike Month, time to pull the bicycle out of the garage if you haven’t already. This year, consider participating in the National Bike Challenge — a great way to get connected to other bike-friendly — and bike-curious — folks in your community and across the country. Join the challenge at any time as an individual or form a team. The Challenge runs May 1 to September 30, 2014.
As with any other valuable property, you need to think about protection. The Insurance Information Institute has a short video about insurance coverage basics for your bikes.
“Bicycles are covered under the personal property section of standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. This coverage will reimburse you, minus your deductible, if your bike is stolen or damaged in a fire, hurricane or other disaster listed in your policy.”
For most casual bicyclists, this coverage will likely be be sufficient. Professional bikers and avid hobbyists with high-end bikes may want to add coverage: Bicycle insurance: A rider may want a rider. There are also some specialty insurance programs available in some states. If you have special needs or concerns, we recommend a one-on-one conversation with your independent agent to determine whether your current coverage is good for your needs or if you should have some supplemental coverage.
The Insurance Information Institute also has advice on bicycle safety, including tips for locking and securing your bikes and observing basic safety when riding. They also suggest looking into enrolling in the National Bike Registry.