Karen’s Kolumn is written by Karen Dolley, R.N. and Grange Friend… we appreciate her knowledge and her willingness to share!
Now that school is out for the summer motorists will see many more bicycles on the roads. About 85 million adults and children ride their bicycles for recreation and fitness every year. Unfortunately, adults and children can be injured or killed in bicycling accidents. More than 600 children die in bicycle accidents every year. It is important to follow bicycle safety rules.
Maine bicycling laws can be found at www.maine.gov/mdot/bikeped/safety/laws. Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. They may use public roads, designated bike paths, and bike lanes. Bicycles are not required to be on shoulders or in bike lanes/paths in Maine. Sidewalk riding is not prohibited by state law but may be prohibited by local ordinances. Bicyclists must stop at red lights and stop signs. They must yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Bicyclists must ride with traffic and obey lane markings. Almost one-fourth of all bicycle-car crashes result from bicyclists riding against traffic.
Cyclists under the age of 16 must wear bike helmets. All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bike helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the most effective way to prevent a potential head injury. Football helmets can’t be substituted for bike helmets. The majority of bike crashes happen near home, in driveways, or in designated bike paths. So wear a bike helmet all the time, not just when bicycling on streets. Help your child to develop “the helmet habit”! Replace bike helmets every five years. Always replace a bike helmet if it has had an impact.
Hand signals should be taught to children before they are allowed to ride in the street. Always signal your intent to turn and to stop.
It is never safe for a child to ride a bicycle at night. Adult bicyclists must have and use headlights, rear reflectors and pedal reflectors at night. Wear bright reflective clothing.
All bikes must have brakes that work.
For more information visit www.healthychildren.org., the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, or the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.