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Tips to prevent bike injuries

By Dr. Richard Louis, provincial injury prevention specialist for the New Brunswick Trauma Program

Collectively, as New Brunswickers we have done our part to enjoy some summer sun. While we continue to follow public health guidelines and enjoy the late-summer weather, we want to help you. We have put together some safety tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Incident not accident

Why do we say incident not accident? Accident is what many of us say or hear regularly when it comes to motor vehicles, cycling, or trips and falls. However, the evidence is clear - at least 90 per cent of injuries are both predictable and preventable.

Saying that injuries are "accidents" implies that there is nothing we can do to prevent them - or that we are somehow supposed to accept that they are an expected part of life.

Our thoughts, along with many other injury experts, public health research, and programs has shifted towards a view that injuries can be prevented (*1, 2 & 4). With injuries being the #1 leading cause of death in those aged 1-44 in New Brunswick (Parachute, 2015), we believe we owe it to ourselves to adjust our thinking and to use words that encourage us to do something about a problem.

It may seem like a small, trivial step - but it's an important first step to acknowledge that injuries are not accidents at all.

Our Top 3 Bicycle Safety Tips

1. Protect your head.

Why do we say incident not accident? Accident is what many of us say or hear regularly when it comes to motor vehicles, cycling, or trips and falls. However, the evidence is clear - at least 90 per cent of injuries are both predictable and preventable.

Saying that injuries are "accidents" implies that there is nothing we can do to prevent them - or that we are somehow supposed to accept that they are an expected part of life.

Our thoughts, along with many other injury experts, public health research, and programs has shifted towards a view that injuries can be prevented (*1, 2 & 4). With injuries being the #1 leading cause of death in those aged 1-44 in New Brunswick (Parachute, 2015), we believe we owe it to ourselves to adjust our thinking and to use words that encourage us to do something about a problem.

It may seem like a small, trivial step - but it's an important first step to acknowledge that injuries are not accidents at all.

Bike Helmet

A properly fitted and correctly worn bike helmet can make a dramatic difference, reducing the risk of serious head injury.

Wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or roller blading.

Remember the 2v1 Rule: Always check your helmet by following these rules: Two fingers above your eyebrow, straps form a "V" under your ears, and one finger space between strap and chin.

Using the 2v1 rule for helmet fitting helps to make sure everyone is strapping up properly before taking a ride.

2. Check your bike before you ride.

Bike

Ensure that the bike is the right size and adjusted correctly for your height. A bike that is too big or too small is a safety hazard.

Get in the habit of doing a bike check by also checking that the tires are inflated, and the brakes are working properly.

3. Follow the rules of the road.

Bike Lane

Always stay on the right side of the road following the same direction as traffic. This will make you more visible to drivers and improve their ability to see traffic hand signals.

Avoid riding at dusk or at night. Make sure drivers can see you! Wearing bright, reflective clothing and equipping your bike with flashing lights and reflectors will help increase visibility.

Use a bike bell - it gains the attention of other riders and pedestrians, letting them know you are close by or passing them.

For drivers:   remember to slow down and leave one metre when passing cyclists. #EllensLaw

For more information on bicycle safety click  here.

Dr. Richard Louis

Dr. Richard Louis is the provincial injury prevention specialist for the NB Trauma Program. He has a wealth of clinical education, as well as a Master's Degree in Health Services Management from the University of Moncton. As injury prevention specialist, Dr. Louis provides leadership and coordination to injury prevention initiatives and programs across the province such as the provincial Concussion Harmonization Project and the NB Finding Balance program.

References

1. Bowman, K., & Robertson, R., D. (2016). Preventable Injuries/Fatalities Due to Distracted Driving: A Call for a Coordinated Action.J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, 46(10), 818 - 821.doi:10.2519/jospt.2016.0113

2. Neira, J., & Bosque, L. (2004). The Word "Accident": No Chance, No Error, No Destiny.  Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 19(3), 187- 189. doi.org/10.1017/S1049023X0000176X

3. Parachute. (2015).The Cost of Injury in Canada. Parachute: Toronto, ON. https://parachute.ca/en/professional-resource/cost-of-injury-report/

4. Pike, I., Richmond, S., Rothman, L., & Macpherson, A. (eds.) (2015).Canadian Injury Prevention Resource. Parachute, publisher: Toronto, ON.

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