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Biking safety highly encouraged during 101 critical days of summer

With the 101 Critical Days of Summer at its halfway point, Camp Pendleton safety officials continue to stress the importance of riding safely on two-wheeled vehicles that are often overlooked – bicycles.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 800 Americans die every year because of bicycle-related incidences. In addition, more than half a million more end up in emergency rooms across the country each year because of bicycle-related injuries.

“Pick the right bike,” said Ernesto Espinoza, supervisor, safety compliance department, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. “Going through mountain trails on a street bike could leave you with a flat tire after just a few minutes, and mountain bike gadgets will only slow you down on the street.”

Making sure the bike fits you is just as important, added Espinoza. He recommends that while sitting on the bike, riders should be able to just about fully extend their legs to reach the pedals at the lowest position. When standing astride the bar with your feet flat on either side, there should be about one to two inches of space between the groin and the crossbar for a road bike, and three to four inches for a mountain bike.

“People will be especially thankful for that space if there is ever a need to unexpectedly jump off the seat,” said Espinoza.

Bicycles are not the only things that should fit you right. Helmets play an important role in bicycle safety. Many states require all riders to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. A proper fitting helmet should sit level and firmly, but comfortably on the head, and not be tilted forward, backward, or sideways.

“After taking a serious hit, helmets lose their capacity to absorb shock,” said Espinoza. “If you ever have a fall and hit any hard surface with the helmet, immediately replace the helmet.”

What you wear also plays an important role in bicycle safety. Be sure to wear bright colored clothing or a reflective vest. Clothing should also be form fitting so that material does not get caught up in the chain.

Once all of your gear is taken care of, it is important to remember the rules of the road. Here are a few tips Espinoza recommends:

• Always ride on the right side of the street, riding in the same direction as traffic, not against.

- • designated bike routes whenever you can. In some places, it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk.

• Always stop and check for traffic in both directions when leaving your driveway, an alley, or a curb. Some people in cars cannot see cyclists.

• Do not ride too closely to parked cars – doors can open suddenly.

• Make sure to use the same hand signals you would in a car while on a bicycle.

• When riding with others, make sure to travel in a single file.

“Biking is a fun way to get exercise and a great way to get around,” said Espinoza. “Observing these simple precautions will keep your ride smooth and your trails happy.”

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