Bicycle Safety Tips for Seniors
Bike riding is a great form of exercise and often a highly enjoyable one, too! Cycling gets your heart rate going, uses several muscle groups, and gets you out and about in your neighborhood or in nature. It’s also an activity that can be done solo or as a group with friends, family, and other cyclists. If you are a senior, there are a few extra safety precautions to take in order to prevent injury and ensure a safe ride. As we get older, our balance becomes shakier, our vision weakens, and our reaction time decreases, especially when we start to suffer limited mobility from illnesses such as arthritis. If you are a senior and are still able-bodied enough to ride a bike, the following tips will help you do so in a way that is as comfortable and safe as possible. Of course, always check with your doctor first to make sure bike riding is a safe activity for you. Tip #1: Wear a helmet. This is absolutely the #1 golden rule when it comes to bicycle safety — not just for seniors, but for people of all ages. In a majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, which is why wearing a helmet is so important. Wearing a helmet can reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent. Tip #2: Wear proper attire. The type of clothing you wear can help prevent a bike injury. Comfortable shoes with proper grip will keep feet from slipping off pedals, gloves will protect hands, and making sure your clothing covers your limbs can lessen road rash if you fall off your bike. And, of course, don’t forget your helmet! Tip #3: Protect your back. If you have any back problems, there are a few steps you can take to increase back support during your ride. Getting a seat with extra padding or one that includes a backrest will take pressure off your lower back and tailbone. You can also wear a sports back brace for extra support. More importantly, getting your bike professionally fitted to you will also greatly reduce back problems. The amount of time that you are hunched over your handlebars or straining to reach your handlebars will hurt your back. Having your handlebars and seat at the right height is one of the most important ways to protect your back. Tip #4: Choose the easier routes. Going downhill, zig-zagging through paths, and bouncing down bumpy trails are all ripe for bike accident disasters if you aren’t as mobile and dexterous as you were in your youth. Choose routes with flat surfaces and that have the least amount of incline. To avoid dealing with traffic, city parks can be a good alternative to biking on an active roadway, especially if the parks close their roads to motor traffic at certain times. For example, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is car-free on Sundays. Tip #5: Buddy up! According to the National Library of Medicine, as we age into our senior years or if we suffer from a disability, our risk for getting into a bike accident increases. It’s a good idea to nix the solo rides and cycle with a friend or family member just in case you do get into a bike accident and need help. If a friend or family member isn’t available, consider enlisting the help of a professional home caregiver. Tip #6: Know the rules of the road. Bicycle laws are updated quite often, so it is a good idea for people of all ages to stay current with the bicycle laws in their area. Be sure to obey all cycling rules; they are designed for your safety and the safety of others. Bicycle coalitions are full of resources about local bicycle laws. Reach out to a local bicycle coalition in your area if you need information. Tip #7: Ride the right bike. Part of being safe while cycling is choosing the right bike. You wouldn’t ride a speed bike on a mountain trail, for example. Riding a bike that isn’t designed for the terrain can lead to a bike accident and injuries. Choose a bike that is in line with your height and comfort requirements and also one that is designed for the terrain on which you will be riding. Learn More About Bicycle Safety These bicycle safety tips are from Bay Area Bicycle Law — the only firm in Northern California to exclusively represent cyclists. By specializing in bike crash cases, our attorneys have seen and heard it all. Outside of the courtroom, our attorneys regularly participate in bike coalition sponsored events, teaching community members about bicycle laws and safety. If you or someone you know has been in a bike accident and needs a personal injury attorney, please reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help. Please also visit our website if you would like to learn more about bicycle safety.