Bicycling is one of the popular ways of getting around, either for recreation, transportation or sport. About fifty seven million Americans ride bicycles which range from eighteen speed models for touring which have high performance to dirt bicycles with balloon tires. With many million of cyclists using the roads and the same roads being occupied by large motor vehicles which are faster and heavier than bicycles, there is belief by national safety council that, application of defensive driving is for people who always pedal their feet to travel and those who push on gas pedals.
Due to nine hundred bicyclists being killed and seven hundred thousand suffering injuries in the 1999 statistics, precautions need to be taken in traffic and cyclists wear best shields to prevent unintentional injuries. Bicycles are cheap to buy compared to other automobiles and many people prefer to use them because they can afford to buy and maintain them and at the same time get quality service when they use them as means of transport. Due to the increase in gas prices, it is preferable to use a bicycle because it saves on the cost of consuming gas.
Due to the increase in the use of bicycles, cyclists should be careful to prevent injuries that may result from bicycling. (Leden, 2002). Environmental injury is caused when riding in cold without clothing thereby subjecting joints and muscles to the elements. In temperatures around sixty to seventy degrees, chill may cause decreased flexibility and a lot of motion in joints and muscles where a person is left vulnerable to tears, strains, viral infections and tendonitis. In order to prevent these injuries, knees should be kept covered.
If it is below sixty five degrees, extra clothing should be carried when heading for a long ride and if there is plan of climbing, a light vest is recommended. If temperatures are below fifty five degrees, tight leg warmers should be put on and at below sixty degrees, wear arm warmers. A vest should be put on before a long descent. Boots and toe covers are won when it is cold and especially if it’s wet. Training related cycling injuries occur when volume or too much intensity is added quickly; these injuries are initiated by bicycle set-up or sub-optimal position.
Positioning is an individual issue and you can get a profession bicycle fit. Take a bikefitting profession and select a person who knows what he is doing. As you take the training, the body adapts to its new abilities and increase flexibility so that you are able to push bigger gears than before. (Runge, 2002). Changes in equipments used affect your position. There are different shoes with different thickness of soles and pedals have different cleat heights and different rail length of saddles.
You should keep track of measurements you require which include, seat being high from pedal axle, saddles tip to center of bars and if you plug the measurements into new equipment, you can be pretty close to where you like to be. Pain around or on knee cap may occur as a result of tendonitis caused by seat being too low or too forward. The ball of the knee is supposed to be directly over the pedal axle while the chunk is at horizontal position and knee cap directly vertically above ball of foot and pedal axle.
Seat height should be between twenty five to thirty five degrees and should bend at the knee. This is done by putting bicycle in a stationary trainer and sitting with hands on brake hoods and having bare foot at the pedals. With knees on the pedals, you are able to pedal when your knees are not locking. To avoid low back pain caused by bars being far from the seat or being too low, a shorter stem or stem with more rises should be used. The seat should be moved forward but not too far in front of the positioning.
If the wrists cramp after spending a lot of time in the aero bars, a spacer should be put under the elbow pad or under the arm which help to raise the elbow and allow relaxation of the wrist. In case of crotch pain, the solution is that, saddle should be a bit nose high. The saddle should be flat and a little low at the nose. In a case where seat is too high causing hips to roll from one side to another, a new saddle should be bought which is best suited to biomechanics. (Putcher, 2000).
When people are walking or bicycling, they do not obey traffic laws. Motorists drive when there are many pedestrians walking on the street and move faster when they see few pedestrians. If motorists are in communities or in time periods when there is greater walking and bicycling, they occasionally bicycle or walk and consider people who are bicycling or walking. The most plausible explanation to prevent injury of people who are walking or bicycling in large numbers is to modify behavior of motorists when they expect people to be walking and bicycling.
After the apparent response of motorists, there should be ways of reminding motorists of the presence of people walking or bicycling, there should be different roadway design , marking cross walks, putting signs of children playing and designating bicycle lanes. Cyclists should ride in single file with traffic and not ride against it. They should stay right on the pavement and watch opening car doors, soft shoulders, sewer gratings and broken glass and be at safe distance from the vehicle that is ahead of you.
Make safe turns with care and use correct hand signals. Before riding into traffic, look left, look right, look left again and look over your shoulder. (Putcher, 2000). Bright cloths should be worn during the day so that one can be seen and avoid cycling at night. If cycling at night is necessary, put on retro reflective clothing that bounce back headlight beams of motorists making cyclists more visible. Bicycle should have safety equipments for example, red rear reflector, an amber, pedal reflector, rear view mirror and a horn or bell.
To prevent head injuries, wear a helmet because head injuries can cause eighty five percent of bicycling fatalities. Head is the first body part that flies forward in case of a collision and has only bone and skin to prevent brain injury which can lead to disastrous results. The bicycle should meet the required standards for it to start operating. Safety commission for consumers has a mandatory safety standard for bicycle helmets where all helmets have a sticker to show that they meet the new standard requirements.
Sudden stops should be avoided because if a bicycle turns, cyclist can fly into the path of another vehicle. Since the driver of the vehicle is not aware, the cyclist can be hit by the vehicle and get serious injuries or even loose his or her life in the process. (Runge, 2002).
Runge J. (2002): Crosswalk markings and motor vehicle collisions involving older pedestrians: JAMA. Putcher J. (2000): making walking and cycling safety: Transportation quarterly. Leden L. (2002): an expert judgment mode applied to estimating the safety effect of a bicycle facility: Medline.