Bicycling is a great way to exercise and connect with your community. Tucson has amazing biking opportunities, from riding The Loop to a variety of mountain biking trails. In May 2018, People for Bikes ranked Tucson the second-best city in America’s Best Places for Bikes. While enjoying riding in Tucson, it is important to be safe. Wearing a bicycle helmet and observing safety precautions are ways to promote a safe riding experience.
It is extremely important to wear a bike helmet every time you ride your bike- no matter how far the distance!
Helmets: The Facts
Studies have found that bicyclists who wore helmets were significantly less likely to sustain a severe traumatic brain injury compared to un-helmeted bicyclists. This might seem like a “no-brainer,” yet many people continue to not wear helmets!
According to CDC survey data, less than half of children and adults always wear bicycle helmets while riding. Children whose parents always wore helmets when riding were more likely to also always wear a helmet themselves. Wearing a helmet not only protects you, but also demonstrates a positive example for kids.
Wearing a helmet is also the law! According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the cities of Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Yuma all have mandatory helmet laws for bicyclists under the age of 18.
Finding the right fit
Data from the National SAFE KIDS campaign and Bell Sports found that more than 35% of children who use helmets wear them improperly. There is no concussion-proof helmet, but a proper fitting helmet can protect you from a serious brain injury. The CDC recommends using the acronym SAFE: Size, Ask, Fit, Evaluate.
Use a soft tape measure above the rider’s eyes and ears to measure head circumference. Keep this number handy when shopping to find the appropriately sized helmet. The helmet should fit snugly all around without free space between the helmet and the rider’s head.
Have the rider try on the helmet and ask them how it feels. The helmet shouldn’t sit too far forward or backward on their head. They should be able to see well in all directions and you should be able to see their eyes.
The helmet should not shift or slip easily on the rider’s head.
Connect the chinstrap. When the child opens their mouth wide, the helmet should pull down on their head and fit even more snugly.
Helmet Care and When to Replace
Never wear a cracked or damaged helmet. Do not store your helmet in your car or in direct sunlight, as excessive heat can damage a helmet. Replaced your helmet if it has been damaged or involved in a crash. Even if you can’t see any cracks or dents, there may be unseen damage that could affect the integrity of the helmet.
Helmets should always be replaced every 5 years because UV light and weathering break down helmet materials over time.
Safety tips from the Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Committee
- Always wear a helmet!
- Be visible! Wear bright, light, reflective clothing and use a headlight and taillight at nighttime.
- Be aware of your surroundings and use hand signals.
- Never ride against traffic or on a sidewalk. (It is illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk unless it has training wheels)
- Don’t use headphones or cellphones while riding.
- Obey traffic laws: come to a complete stop at stop signs, and traffic lights.
Pima County offers free bike safety classes. Free bike safety items such as helmets, bike lights, and u-locks are often included with participation.
For more information on the free classes or bicycle safety in general, call 520-724-BIKE (2453) or visit their website at: www.BikePed.Pima.gov
- “America’s Best Places for Bikes: Our New System Rates 480 U.S. Cities.” PeopleForBikes, 13 July 2018, peopleforbikes.org/blog/americas-best-places-bikes-new-system-rates-480-u-s-cities/.
- Bellal, Joseph, et al. “Bicycle Helmets Work When It Matters the Most.” Elsevier, 28 July 2016, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000296101630366X.
- “Bicycle Helmets Are Highly Protective against Traumatic Brain Injury within a Dense Urban Setting.” Elsevier, 29 July 2015, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0020138315004428.
- “Bicycle Safety.” NHTSA, NHTSA, 10 May 2018, http://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety.
- Bicycling Safety, http://www.azbikeped.org/bicycling-safety.asp.
- “Helmet Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Feb. 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/helmets/index.html.
- Jewett, Amy, et al. “Bicycle Helmet Use among Persons 5 Years and Older in the United States, 2012.” Elsevier, 4 Oct. 2016, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002243751630278X?via=ihub.
By Ariel Garcia and Leslie Streeter