Boning up on bicycle safety, 14 tips

Photo courtesy of the Orthopedic Trauma Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons | St. George News

FEATURE – Recently, the St. George area cycling community lost a dear friend who was injured while riding a pedal bike with a group of experienced riders on a familiar route, reminding us of  how fragile life is and motivating a fresh look at the bare bones of bicycle safety.

More than 1.3 million cycling injuries were reported in 2014, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Cycling is not only a growing mode of active transportation in Southern Utah, it is growing across the United States. Recent stats show more than 80 million people have taken up bicycling for fun, exercise and transportation.

The more we educate ourselves on safety while cycling, the more we can avoid preventable injuries and tragedies.

The following list, which is shared by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, prepares riders with the awareness necessary to keep cycling fun, healthy and safe:

Always wear a helmet.

To minimize your risk of injury while riding a bicycle, remember to always wear a helmet. Studies show that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of head injury by 85 percent. Make sure the helmet fits snugly but comfortably and does not obstruct your vision. It should have a chin strap and buckle securely. 

Follow the rules of the road. 

Familiarize yourself with all of the bicycle rules of the road in your city or state. Ride in the direction of traffic. Signal your turns and ride single file. Ride defensively. Understand that drivers often do not see cyclists, so you must be aware of your surroundings and ready to avoid a collision. Intersections are especially dangerous because drivers making turns are not looking for a cyclist. Be careful when riding next to parked cars to avoid being hit by an opening door.

Choose bike routes wisely

Select streets with fewer and slower cars. Choose streets with designated bicycle lanes. Choose wide streets.

Avoid distracted cycling.

Do not listen to loud music or use your phone.

Take extra precautions at night.

Wear bright fluorescent colors and make sure to have reflectors. A working tail light and headlight should be visible from 500 feet away.

Never ride a bicycle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

This may pose a serious threat to the cyclist himself and or pedestrians, motor vehicles or another cyclist.

Never underestimate road conditions.

This includes uneven or slippery surfaces.

Maintain your bicycle like you would your car.

If it’s not in good condition, do not ride it.

Adjust your bicycle to fit.

Appropriately sized frames, handlebar and seat height will improve your ability to control the bike and reduce the risk for injuries. Consider a professional fit from a bike shop.

Dress appropriately.

Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate shoes.

Pace yourself.

Cycling can be vigorous exercise. See your doctor before you begin any exercise program.

Change riding positions.

Slight variations in your position can reduce stress on pressure points on your body and avoid overstressing muscles.


Be sure to carry water and food on longer rides. Drink a full water bottle each hour you spend on the bike.

Supervise younger riders at all times.

It is recommended that younger children ride only in enclosed areas, away from moving vehicles in traffic.

Learn more: See all the articles in the St. George News “Road Respect” series.

Dr. Randy Clark

Written by Randy Clark for St. George Heath and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Dr. Randy Clark is an orthopedic surgeon originally from St. George. He was happy to return to this area with his wife and four children when the opportunity arose. After graduating from the University of Utah School of Medicine and completing a five-year orthopedic surgery residency program at the University of Iowa, Clark completed a sports medicine – arthroscopy fellowship at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute of Sports Medicine.




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  • John January 21, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Tip #2 — right after “wear a helmet” — should be “wear bright clothing” so you can be seen. How many highway workers do you see wear blue or black, which is the favorite color of more than half of cyclists? This is especially important in poor lighting conditions and where there are a lot of shadows. I can’t believe how many cyclists seem to want to wear camouflage so as to blend into the surroundings and go unnoticed by motorists. I always wear a day-go orange or lime green shirt (available Walmart) or a bright yellow windbreaker.

  • [email protected] January 21, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    While no one will argue that these recommendations are pretty obvious to adult riders, a more useful research project for the investigative reporting team would be to identify the nature, and frequency, of reported accidents, laid out on a map of Washington County.
    The background information, with some recommended corrective actions, could be integrated into the planning process for trail improvements, bike lane improvements, and new trail sections to avoid vehicle traffic.
    Visibility, at all times, has to be the number one concern for those of us who ride alongside traffic. Whether clothing, strobe flashers, or both, we all have a chance to dial up our visibility to oncoming drivers.

  • utahdiablo January 21, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    How about using the bike path on SR HWY 18? That’s what it’s there for, why we paid all the taxes for, why don’t the bike riders ( and runners for that matter ) go ride or jog on the paved trail that we the taxpayers built for you and stay off the HWY…. if I’m going the posted limit, 60 MPH, and I only have the one lane of travel, with a double yellow line on the road, and oncoming traffic, and other drivers riding my butt, and you decide to dart into my lane with your bike? Guess who’s gonna lose…

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