Safety & Defense: Guide to Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

Both walking and bicycling are very enjoyable, effective, and popular ways for people to get and stay fit and healthy. For some people, bicycling or taking a walk isn’t for any other purpose than recreation and enjoyment. Whether a person walks or takes a bicycle ride as a form of exercise or pleasure, it is important that they know how to do so safely. As children, people are taught by a parent or guardian how to safely walk on public streets. Also during childhood, most people learn how to ride a bicycle. It is crucial that proper safety and precautionary techniques are taught at that time, as bad habits can carry on into adulthood. It isn’t impossible, however, to learn how to be a safe pedestrian or bicyclist at any age. In fact, both bicycle and pedestrian safety are of the utmost importance and can prevent injury and even death.

Bicycle Safety and Helmets

When riding a bicycle, a person must share the road with cars and other vehicles that could prove dangerous in the event of an accident. While some of these dangers may be avoidable, others may not be and are a serious threat to bicyclists. One of the main components of safety when riding a bike is wearing a suitable helmet. When it fits properly, a helmet will help protect the head in the event of a fall. To be effective, it must properly fit and be adjusted to the wearer’s head. In addition to wearing a helmet, a bicyclist must know and obey the rules of the road. Staying visible to drivers, particularly at night is also crucial, as is being predictable and aware of the what the surrounding traffic is doing.

  • Seven Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety for Adults: A thorough brochure in PDF format lists seven steps on how to stay safe and smart while bicycling. Each step provides readers with detailed information.
  • Safety Tips for Bicyclists: Get tips on how to stay safe while bicycling by clicking on this link to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. The article contains primary tips followed by related information.
  • Bike Safety: KidsHealth reviews bike safety tips for both adults and children. Road rules, hand signals, and helmets are discussed.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Tips: The tips on this page are common safety tips for people who walk or ride their bicycles on city streets. Each tip is meant to reduce the likelihood of an accident and/or injury. Tips for drivers to avoid injuring bicyclists are also given.
  • Legend of the Fall: Learning to fall correctly can prevent serious injury when riding a bicycle. Readers can learn how to fall correctly by reading the five steps described in this Bicycling magazine article.
  • Bicycle Helmet Safety: Cleveland Clinic has an article on bicycle helmets. The article discusses how to choose a helmet in terms of type and fit.
  • Head Injuries and Bicycle Safety: Statistics regarding head injuries associated with bike riding are listed on this page, which also discusses how injuries of this kind can be prevented in addition to wearing a helmet.
  • Bicycle Safety and Bike Helmets: King County reviews bike safety, including the county’s law regarding wearing a helmet. Although it mentions the county’s specific law, the page provides useful information to all bicyclists, regardless of where they live, regarding how to fit a helmet.
  • Ride Safe, Ride Smart: Bicycle Safety: Seven rules for staying safe while riding one’s bicycle are listed on this page. When the link is clicked, readers are also able to see statistics regarding accidents, injuries, and deaths associated with bicycling.
  • Bicycle Safety Tips: Read this list of 15 bicycling tips that are provided by the Washington State Department of Transportation. This is a good list for all bicycle riders, regardless of where they live.
  • Riding a Bicycle: What kids should know about riding a bicycle can be found on this page. Information such as practicing, using the right gear, and the ABCs of bicycling are reviewed.

Pedestrian Safety

Other than crossing from one side of the street to the next, people often do not give much thought to safety when they are walking down a street. The danger to pedestrians, however, is high and should not be ignored. The greatest threat to people who are walking on city streets or near traffic is lack of attention. Often, people are preoccupied with other things as opposed to what is going on around them. Cell phones, for example, are a large part of the problem, as people often talk or text while they are in motion. Headphones and music block out noise than can alert pedestrians to impending dangers or concerns. In addition to being aware, pedestrians must also follow basic rules such as looking both ways before crossing the street, wearing clothing that makes them visible to drivers, using designated crosswalks, and walking on the sidewalks when they are present.

  • Tips to Remember When Walking Around Campus: Pedestrian Safety: This link on pedestrian safety is found on the website for the West Virginia University Police. The page provides the reader with information on how to walk safely. Although the article speaks of walking safely on campus, the tips can easily be applied to walking on regular city streets. A section also includes watching kids while walking.
  • Safety in Numbers: What You Can Do: The page associated with this link discusses what people can do to reduce pedestrian accidents. The article reviews safety steps that drivers and pedestrians can take.
  • Pedestrian Safety: Actions that cities and pedestrians can take to reduce pedestrian-related accidents and improve safety are the focus of this link. Readers are also given myths and facts about pedestrian safety.
  • NYC Department of Aging: Pedestrian Safety: A majority of this page reviews walking safety for older citizens. There is also a Department of Transportation safety quiz that seniors can take, and walking safety tips are given.
  • CDC Pedestrian Safety Tips: This article is divided into two sections that outline safety measures for pedestrians. The first section is for drivers, and the second is directed toward pedestrians.
  • Radford University Police: Traffic and Pedestrian Safety: Safety tips are listed on this page for both drivers and pedestrians at Radford University. People who do not attend Radford University may still benefit from the universal safety tips that are given.
  • Pedestrian Safety Tips: A bullet-pointed list of pedestrian safety tips covers walking in various situations and locations, such as at night, in parking lots, and in crosswalks.
  • Traffic and Pedestrian Safety: Review statistics regarding the number of people who have been injured and killed by vehicles while walking. The brief statistics section is followed by tips for safe action for both pedestrians and drivers.
  • Bike Safety Tips: Read this PDF regarding kids’ bicycle safety. The document also reviews helmet safety tips regarding fit and type.

Keeping Kids Safe

Kids spend a great deal of time outside, and often, this time is spent either riding a bicycle or walking to school, home, or the home of a friend. Children may not appreciate the danger that is associated with these activities and may unintentionally behave recklessly or place themselves in danger. Parents who have taught their children about road safety should continue to stress its importance, and parents who have not yet taught their children how to be safe while participating in these outdoor activities should do so. To best teach their kids, parents must be aware of common mistakes that children make, such as being distracted while crossing the street or playing near traffic. Kids should be taught to be aware of their surroundings at all times, even when they are playing in a playground. They should be taught the rules of the road and should not be allowed to ride their bicycles alone until parents are comfortable that they understand and will obey these rules. They should also be dressed appropriately for visibility and overall safety when riding their bicycles, including wearing a well-fitted helmet. Pedestrians with younger children should always keep them close and, depending on the age, hold their hand firmly when traffic is near.

  • Playground Safety: Injury prevention and other playground safety tips are listed on this page on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website.
  • Teaching Children to Walk Safely: This link opens up a page that is designed to help parents teach their kids to be safe pedestrians. The safety skills are listed for children at various ages for the best comprehension.
  • KidSafe: Pedestrian Safety: Click on this link to review problems that children typically have when crossing the street, such as being distracted, and the importance of teaching them about pedestrian safety.
  • Teaching Pedestrian Safety to Children: Learn how to go about teaching children about pedestrian safety by clicking on this link and reading this article. Teachable moments and talking points are discussed, as are skills and being a good role model.
  • Be a Safe Walker: Pedestrian Safety for Kids and Families: Educational rules for teaching young children how to be safe walkers are listed on this page.
  • Summertime Safety Tips to Keep Kids Safe: In this guide, parents and guardians of children will find safety tips and advice for keeping children safe while playing in pools and near water during the summer. Additional safety tips unrelated to play, such as window and car safety, are also included on this page.
  • Bikes: Children can read about how to wear their helmets safely and checking to make sure the bike is safe to ride by clicking on this link. Rules of the road are also listed on this page as well as encouragements for children to follow these rules.
  • Kid Safety: What is a Pedestrian/Pedestrian Safety: A list of rules that children should know before they go for a walk can be found here. A majority of the rules are clickable and will take the reader to further information.
  • Bicycle Helmets: What Every Parent Should Know: Parents and guardians will want to click on this article about helmet safety. The information is in a question-and-answer format.
  • Travel and Play Safety: Parents who click this link will find a list of safety categories. Click on any of the categories to open up a drop-down box of further information.

Handling an Emergency and Other Tips

Emergencies such as accidents can happen at any time. For that reason, people should know what to do when they occur. If hit by a car, for example, the pedestrian or bicyclist should assess any physical or property damage and contact the police immediately. As with car accidents, bicyclists and pedestrians should never admit fault and should collect insurance information from the driver. To help prevent emergency situations that could arise due to failed brakes or flat tires, it is important for bicyclists to perform regular maintenance and inspections on their bicycles. Maintenance includes, but is not limited to, checking tire pressure and brake pads, cleaning chains, and tightening brakes.

  • Roads and Rashes: Bicycling Safety: This article discusses different types of accidents that bicyclists may have and resulting minor injuries such as road rash and muscle soreness. Methods of treating soreness and road rash are reviewed.
  • How to Handle a Bike Accident: A bicycle accident involving a vehicle is an emergency that often requires swift action. This article explains what to do at the scene.
  • What to Do When Bike and Car Collide: Read about what happens with people who are struck by vehicles and what is expected in that kind of situation.
  • If You Crash…: Review information and facts about what to do following a bicycle accident by clicking on this link to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
  • What to Do After Your Bike/Car Crash: Valuable information in PDF format is found here for people to follow when involved in a bike accident involving a car.
  • Hit by a Car: What to Do if You Are: Read this PDF to learn what someone should do if involved in an accident, such as getting medical care.
  • Smart Cycling Tips: This is a page of cycling tips presented by the League of American Bicyclists.
  • Top Ten Bicycle Maintenance Tips: Click on this link to open a page of ten of the top maintenance requirements for bicycles.
  • Basic Bike Maintenance: The Bicycle Coalition of Maine website lists basic maintenance requirements for bikes, such as how to clean a bike, lubricate it, and inspect it. Clicking on the appropriate category of interest will open up further information.
  • Cycling Tips: Warming Up and Cooling Down: Select this link to read a PDF about the benefits and the process of warming up prior to riding a bike and cooling down afterward.

By Ted Burgess