Put the pedal to the metal ... carefully

By JENNIFER HUDNALL Extension Agent for 4-H Published:

Warm weather is here. For many families, that means bringing the bikes out of storage, dusting them off and hitting the streets. Before you ride out of your driveway, however, its a good idea to also dust off your safe cycling habits.

Across the country, 720 cyclists were killed last year in accidents involving motor vehicles, according to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute. Wearing a helmet, following traffic laws and taking simple safety precautions with your equipment can reduce your chances of an accident and serious injury.

Studies have shown that three-fourths of cycling-related deaths are because of head injuries. One of the easiest and best safety precautions a rider can take is to wear a helmet. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that wearing a helmet could reduce the risk of a brain injury by 88 percent. Helmets should be designed for cycling and fastened snugly on top of the head by the use of a strong chin strap.

The condition of the bicycle, itself, is important. Basic maintenance can help prevent serious accidents. Make sure wheels are properly aligned and tires are inflated to the manufacturers recommended pressure. Replace any damaged parts, such as brakes, chains and chain guards. Simply tightening loose screws and bolts can help to avert a disaster. Bikes should have front and rear reflectors, as well as reflectors on the pedals. Spoke reflectors are a good idea for childrens bikes.

Traffic laws apply to cyclists as well as motorists. Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it. Stop at stop signs and red lights and always be aware of the traffic around you. Bicycle riders have a right to the road, but motorists often dont notice them. Using the proper hand signals can make drivers aware of your intentions to turn or stop. Staying alert and aware of your surroundings can help avoid a serious collision.

Not all roads are safe for bike riding. Its advisable to discuss with your children safe places for them to ride during the day. Evening or night riding is not a good idea for anyone, but especially for children. Twilight is a particularly dangerous time to be on the road with a bike. Motorists may not see as well in the lengthening shadows or the glare of a setting sun. The best advice is to keep children off the roads during those times.

Dont leave things to chance. A few simple precautions before you hit the road can help ensure that bike riding will be beneficial and not detrimental to the health of your family.

Contact the Franklin County Extension office for more information on bicycle safety.

4-H Calendar

May 8 Shooting Sports, TBA

May 9 Peaks Mill Afterschool

May 13 4-H Ham Project Meeting

May 20 Camp Clean-up Day at North Central

May 25 4:30-6:30 Camp Sign-up Night at Extension Office, 4:30-6:30

May 30 4-H Fashion Revue, 6:30 p.m.

June 8 4-H Cooking Camp, 9 a.m.

June 12-16 4-H Teen Conference at U.K

June 13 4-H Teen Leader Training.

June 19 4-H Adult Leader Training

June 20 Camper Orientation at Peaks Mill, 6 p.m.

June 24 District 4 Shooting Sports Contest at Mercer County

July 3-7 4-H Camp

July 8 District 4 Shooting Sports Archery and trap contest at Madison Co.

July 17-22 Franklin County Fair

(Unless otherwise noted, all events and meetings are at the Extension Office).

The Franklin County Extension Office is located at 101 Lakeview Ct. The telephone number is 695-9035. Web site is http://ces.ca.uky.edu/franklin. Office hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

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