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Tips for the season to keep biking safe and fun

It might have been a little rainy and chilly earlier this week but at the time this is posting, forecasters are predicting sunshine and temperatures in the 60s in Hartford.

With that opening it seems to make good sense to use the opportunity today to discuss issues related to bicycle safety, especially as it might relate to keeping our youngest riders as safe as possible. After all, it won't be long before children are done with school and out on their bikes in droves.

Here is some telling information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2012, while overall deaths in passenger vehicle accidents fell, the number of bicyclist deaths rose to 726. That compared to 682 in 2011. Sixty-nine percent of the cycling deaths occurred in urban areas.

Many crashes could be prevented if everyone, motorists and cyclists alike, obeyed the law and took proper precautions. To that end, here are some tips from NHTSA that adults should keep in mind and parents should reinforce with their children.

  • Be sure your bike is up to snuff. Do all the parts work? Are tires inflated to pro0er pressure? Is it adjusted for your size? You should be able to straddle the top bar with at least an inch of clearance. Seat height should be set so your knee bends just a bit at full extension.
  • Make yourself visible. Wearing bright or reflective clothes helps drivers see you. Avoid riding at night if possible. If you do ride at night, visible clothing is even more important.
  • Be aware of conditions. Potholes are jarring to go over. They can also throw you off your balance and cause a spill. And certainly avoid broken glass and gravel if you can.

From a general behavior standpoint, there are particular things to keep in mind.

  • Go with the flow. If you have to use the road, ride in the same direction as larger vehicles.
  • Yield to others when appropriate. Officials say a lot of cases of wrongful death could be prevented with proper attention to etiquette. For bicyclists this might mean stopping and looking before pulling into traffic.
  • Obey traffic laws. It doesn't matter if you are four or 94, if you are riding a bike in the street you are driving a vehicle and are subject to the law.

Safety is in everyone's hands.

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