Bike wise and stay­ing safe on the road

Learn­ing to ride safely is cru­cial when tak­ing to the road on two wheels

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

The hum­ble bi­cy­cle forms part of New Zealand’s quin­tes­sen­tial so­cial land­scape. Kids all over the coun­try com­monly grad­u­ate from three wheels to two be­fore they’re old enough to go to school. More adults also choose to ride their bikes to work ev­ery morn­ing in­stead of sit­ting in an hour of rush-hour traf­fic each way.

We all know that fewer cars on our roads would make a real dif­fer­ence – to our health, the en­vi­ron­ment, not to men­tion the traf­fic! But learn­ing how to ride a bike isn’t as sim­ple as bal­anc­ing. The road is a car’s do­main so it’s es­sen­tial that ev­ery bike rider masters cy­cle safety skills from a young age.

The stats are pretty con­fronting. In 2014, 10 cy­clists died, 158 were se­ri­ously in­jured and 573 suf­fered mi­nor in­juries in po­lice-re­ported crashes on New Zealand roads (roughly 6 per cent of ca­su­al­ties from po­lice-re­ported crashes in 2014). Nearly a quar­ter (22 per cent) of all cy­clists killed or in­jured were aged 10-19 years, while nearly three-quar­ters (73 per cent) of cy­clists in­volved in po­lice-re­ported crashes were male. Nine in ev­ery 10 cy­clist ca­su­al­ties oc­curred on busy ur­ban roads with a speed limit of 70kmh or less, while 44 per cent of cy­clist deaths oc­curred on open roads due to higher-im­pact speeds.

So how can we help each other to be safe on the roads?

1. There are huge health ben­e­fits to cy­cling but there are also risks. Cy­clists are more likely to be in­jured in a crash than car driv­ers for the sim­ple rea­son that a bi­cy­cle of­fers a much lower de­gree of pro­tec­tion and less vis­i­bil­ity.

Ur­ban roads can be par­tic­u­larly risky be­cause of the high vol­ume of traf­fic (not to men­tion im­pa­tient driv­ers). Open roads, while not as high on the ca­su­alty stakes, are po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous be­cause of their high speed lim­its. 8am-10am and 4pm-6pm are the most dan­ger­ous times of the day for cy­clists be­cause roads get busier, plus dur­ing win­ter it gets dark much ear­lier which re­duces vis­i­bil­ity sig­nif­i­cantly later in the day.

2. Your kids are never too young to learn what’s right and what’s not on the road. Teach them bal­ance, turn­ing and sig­nalling skills on a quiet res­i­den­tial street or in an empty carpark be­fore they head out on their own. Bet­ter still, con­tact your lo­cal coun­cil and see if it can di­rect you to a lo­cal cy­cle skills train­ing ses­sion. It’s strongly rec­om­mended that chil­dren un­der the age of 10 should only cy­cle on the road with adult su­per­vi­sion. And al­ways make sure your kids wear their hel­mets on their heads, not their han­dle­bars.

3. Get your com­mu­nity in­volved – es­pe­cially if your neigh­bour­hood is home to a lot of kids. Use Neigh­bourly.co.nz to start a kids’ bike club on a Satur­day morn­ing, and run them through a spe­cial­ist cy­clist skills train­ing work­shop.

4. Fe­bru­ary is Bike Wise Month and a na­tional pro­gramme of cy­cling-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties and events is held across the coun­try. Bike Wise will be host­ing many com­mu­nity and school events like Big Bike Tune Ups, Go by Bike Day events and cy­cle skills train­ings. In­for­ma­tion: bikewise.co.nz/events

Bi­cy­cles are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar and par­ents are ad­vised to make sure their kids are Bike wise be­fore they hit the streets.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.