Summer playtime for school-aged children is winding down, but that does not mean that drivers of cars and trucks can be any less vigilant when it comes to watching out for bicycle riders -- children and adults.
Payson's great weather and atmosphere make it a great place to ride a bicycle and, if riders and vehicle drivers are not careful, it can also lead to serious accidents.
Children, and sometimes adults, don't always pay attention when riding bicycles on public streets.
In recent days, we have watched teenagers and younger bicyclists ride down the center of the Beeline Highway while trying to find a way to cut through traffic. It was an accident that, on this busy highway, could have easily happened. A few minutes later, some other children were doing the same thing near Rumsey Park.
In both cases, watchful drivers spotted the children and gave them plenty of room to change lanes and direction.
In 2004, there were an estimated 534,883 bicycle-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. Most of those injured, 297,728, were children younger than 15 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another 34,072 were 18 to 22 years old. Interestingly, 76 percent of those children were males.
Few young bicycle riders wear helmets, yet by wearing an approved helmet, you can reduce the chance of a serious head or brain injury by 85 to 88 percent, says the NHTSA. Nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle injuries are a result of a head injury, the NHTSA says.
The Arizona Child Care Resource and Referral organization also suggests it is important for all bike riders to wear a helmet, especially children.
Many states and cities now require helmets because research has shown that 88 percent of cyclists' brain injuries can be prevented with the wearing of a bicycle helmet.
A recent national study by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and Bell Sports found fewer than half (41 percent) of kids ages 5 to 14 wear helmets when participating in wheeled activities, and more than a third (35 percent) of children who use helmets wear them improperly.
It is estimated that more than 800 bicycle riders are killed in the U.S. every year, almost all in collisions with cars, and 75 percent of them die of head injuries, says information at the child care resource center.
Others suffer less severe and sometimes debilitating injuries. These injuries can cause changes in a child's personality and cause learning problems.
The League of American Bicyclists suggests the following ways to ride safely.
To be safe and avoid accidents, bicyclists should ride with traffic and be aware of hazards, cars and people around them. Bike smart and follow these safety tips for biking in Arizona:
Ride on the right -- Always ride with the flow of traffic. Riding against traffic is dangerous.
Ride predictably -- Follow the same rules motorists do, and travel in a straight line without swerving.
Obey traffic control devices (signs, signals, lane markings) -- Bicyclists must follow the rules of the road like other vehicles.
Protect your head -- Always wear a helmet, even on the shortest trips.
Follow lane markings -- Don't turn left from the right lane. Don't ride straight in a lane marked right-turn only.
Ride correctly through intersections -- Use the right-most lane that goes in your direction. If you're heading straight, get in the through lane, not to the right of a right-turning vehicle.
Signal before you move or stop -- Hand signals let drivers and others know what you intend to do.
Enter streets and intersections cautiously -- Always check for oncoming traffic.
Ride defensively on the road -- Anticipate hazards and be ready to adjust your position in traffic.
Be visible and be seen -- Wear bright colors to increase your visibility and make eye contact with drivers.
Look behind you -- Know how to look over your shoulder and not swerve or lose balance. Rear view mirrors are an option.