As I look back on my childhood, there was nothing more freeing than riding a bicycle. I can still close my eyes and remember the day the training wheels came off, and it was time to learn to ride solo (see photo at right). With the air flowing past, I cruised down my family’s driveway, which was followed by the inevitable terror as I realized I didn’t know how to brake!
Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage for kids, which is why I can relive the day I learned to ride more than 29 years later. While riding a bike offers hours of enjoyment and a sense of freedom for children, the activity also has the potential to put children in dangerous situations.
The Yakima Herald-Republic recently ran an article about Washington’s Target Zero Program, which has the goal to eliminate death and serious injuries to pedestrians and bicyclists by 2030. According to the article, there was a 31% spike in serious injuries involving pedestrians from 2013 to 2017, with 461 serious injuries. The number of people killed while walking or riding a bike on public roads rose to 122 in 2017, up from 60 in 2013.
According to the National Safety Council, bicycles were associated with more injuries over all age groups than skateboards, trampolines, swimming pools, and playground equipment combined with more than 488,000 people being treated in emergency rooms. In 2015, more than 400,000 children were seen in emergency departments. The most common injury was a broken bone, with serious head injuries close behind.
Parents and caregivers should teach these simple but potentially life-saving rules to their children:
Wear a helmet. Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by at least 85%, yet less than half of children under the age of 14 wear a bike helmet.
Wear a properly-fitting helmet. A helmet can only do its job when it fits a child’s head properly.
Ride in a single file line if riding on a public road.
Limit riding at night, but if you must, be sure your bike has fully visible headlights and tail lights.
Stay alert at all times! Motorists often aren’t looking for bicyclists or unsafe road conditions.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to a bicycle-car collision, be sure to contact our Yakima bike attorneys right away. The lawyers at Abeyta Nelson have experience representing many clients who were injured while riding a bicycle. There is never a charge to discuss your questions with us, and no fee unless we win your case. The sooner we are involved, the more help we can give you.
-blog written by attorney David Abeyta, Abeyta Nelson Injury Law