Bicycle Safety


Prepared by: Corporal Travis Benson
Date: 06/06/2005

Bicycling is a very popular activity of which approximately 85 million people in the United States partake in. Some ride a bike for recreation, some for exercise, and some do just to get from one place to another. One thing that is not on the minds of all of these riders, however, is bicycle safety. About 540,000 bicyclists visit the emergency room each year with 1 out of 8 having a head injury. There are also about 800 deaths of bicyclists a year, with over half of those being children less than 15 years of age. Many of these head injuries and deaths could probably have been prevented if the rider were wearing a helmet. The Grand Forks Police Department would like to provide you with some basic, yet necessary, information about bike safety. We have also provided some basic information regarding bike maintenance and how to help prevent bicycle theft.

Rules of the Road:
The first thing we’re going to go over are the rules of the road. There are many rules that one should always follow when riding a bicycle. Not all of these rules are laws, but many are. Prior to riding a bike on the streets, sidewalks or paths of your city, you should do your best to learn these rules. Below are some of the rules and laws of the City of Grand Forks. This is not all-inclusive list, however these are some of the more safety-oriented rules and laws in regard to bike safety.

2. Follow traffic signs and signals. A bicycle is considered a vehicle and is required to follow the same laws as a car or motorcycle.
3. Always ride on the right side of the road. A person driving an automobile is used to seeing on-coming traffic on the opposite side of the street. By driving on the wrong side of the road, you could be struck by an on-coming car.
4. Only carry the number of people for which the bike is designed for. Neither pegs nor handlebars are meant for carrying extra riders.
5. When riding in a group, never ride more than two abreast. Ride single file if there is a lot of traffic or when on bike paths.
6. Never grab onto a moving vehicle. Not only is this illegal, it is very dangerous.
7. Riding on the sidewalk is only allowed on residential streets.
8. Always use a bike path when there is one adjacent to the roadway. You can click on this attachment to see the 2005 Grand Forks Bikeway map:
9. Although it is not encouraged, when riding after dark you must have a headlamp that is visible from at least 500 feet away.
10. Always yield to pedestrians. Give audible signals whenever passing pedestrians.
11. Always use hand signals when turning or stopping while driving on the roadway. To signal a left turn, hold your left arm straight out, parallel to the ground. To signal a right turn, hold your left arm straight out with your forearm pointed upward at the elbow at a 90 degree angle. An alternate right turn signal is to hold your right arm straight out, parallel to the ground. To signal a stop, hold your left arm straight out with your forearm pointed downward at the elbow at a 90 degree angle.
12. Always ride at least 3 feet away from parked cars. This way you are not caught by surprise if a car door should open in front of you all of a sudden. Also be aware of any cars that may be pulling into traffic from a parking stall.

Bike Equipment and Clothing:
Proper clothing and bike equipment can have a major influence on your safety. Here are some guidelines, however it is important to factor in the type of bicycling that is being done to determine all of the necessary equipment.

1. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET -- This can not be overemphasized. This one simple piece of equipment can prevent many injuries.
2. Always wear shoes. A closed toe shoe can prevent injuries should your foot get caught in the wheels or chain. Shoes also provide foot protection while stepping on the ground while stopping or going.
3. Do not wear clothing that is too loose. Loose pants can get caught in the chain, gears or derailleurs causing a dangerous situation. It can also ruin a pair of pants.
4. Wear eye protection. Sunglasses or other forms of eye protection can stop tree branches, insects and other flying debris.
5. Purchase a small gear bag and/or a bike gear rack or basket. Carrying things while bicycling is dangerous because it takes one or both of your hands away from your brakes and handlebars. It can also affect your balance. A rack or basket allows you to safely carry small items while still concentrating on your riding.
6. If you are to be doing any off-road bicycling, gloves are a must. They will provide better grip and can protect your hands should you fall.

Bike Safety Check:
Now that you know all about how you should ride and what you should wear, let’s make certain that you’re bike is ready. Much of this can be checked on and fixed at home, but if you’re uncertain on how something should be done, take your bike to a local bicycle dealer or repair shop and let them show you how it’s done. These bike professionals should also be used for any major bike problems and repairs. One can’t put a price on safety, and a bike that performs properly is much more fun to ride.

1. ABC Quick Check. This checks the main components of the bicycle for any potential safety problems. It only takes a few moments and can prevent you finding out the hard way that you have no brakes or some other problem.
“A” is for air. Make sure that there is proper air pressure in the tire. A gauge can be used, but after a while; you should be able to tell from past experiences.
“B” is for brakes. Make sure that your brakes work and that there is no damage to any of the components. If you are unsure, have a bicycle mechanic look at them.
“C” is for crank. Make sure that the cranks and peddles are not loose or damaged.
“Quick” is for the quick releases. Check the quick releases on the hubs and seat for tightness. They should be tight, but not too tight.
“Check” is for checking the derailleurs and gear shifters. Drive slowly and shift through the gears. If there are any problems, have a bike professional take a look at them.
2. Make sure there are no missing or damaged spokes on the wheels. This can create uneven pressure on the wheel and lead to damage.
3. If you will be riding at night, make sure that your headlight is working properly and that there are reflectors on all sides of the bicycle. It is illegal to ride during dark hours without a headlight.

Theft Prevention and Bicycle Registration:
Every year in the City of Grand Forks, there are numerous bicycle thefts. Sometimes the bikes are returned to there rightful owner, but in most cases they are not. Even when they are, they are often damaged in some way and are not worth as much as they were prior to the theft, and possibly even inoperable. Although it is almost impossible to completely eliminate all of these bike thefts, you can make it more difficult for would-be thieves. You can also increase the odds that if your bike is stolen, that it will be returned to you.

1. ALWAYS LOCK YOUR BIKE. Even if your bike is at home, either lock it or secure it a locked garage or shed. The easier it is for a thief to steal your bike, the greater the odds that it will be stolen. A U-Lock is better than a cable lock, as it is more difficult to cut, however a cable lock is still better than nothing.
2. Identify or mark your bike. Copy down the serial numbers and take a photograph of the bike. You should also keep the receipt or proof of purchase on a new bike. This can assist in recovery of your bike if stolen and identify you as the true owner of the bicycle.
3. Register your bike. The Grand Forks Police Department has a registration program in which most local retailers automatically register any newly purchased bicycle. If your bike is older, you can contact the police department for information on getting your bike registered. You should still keep the serial numbers and any other identifying information yourself, as the registration data might not have been entered yet, in case a theft does occur.