bicycle photo

Learning how to ride a bike is the ultimate childhood rite of passage. Most remember the careful instruction of Mom or Dad during the learning process. After weeks of teeter-tottering down the street with Mom or Dad’s reassuring hand on the seat, one day, that hand disappears, and off the bike goes. Most childhoods are peppered with positive memories of bike-riding.

Last week, however, tragedy struck for an 8-year-old boy riding his bicycle around 2:15 P.M. in the Linebaugh and Talioferro Avenue area of Tampa. According to Bay News 9, the boy, who was riding without a helmet, was seriously injured when he was struck by a car. Bystanders stated that the accident occurred when the boy rode his bike into the car’s path. Upon impact, the boy was ejected from his bike and struck his head on the pavement. As of last week, he was being treated at Tampa General Hospital.

According to the CDC, even though bicycle trips comprise only about 1% of all trips taken in the U.S., bicyclists face a higher risk of injury and death from crashes than do motor vehicle occupants. In 2012, the most recent year this data is available, 722 U.S. bicyclists were killed and around a half-million visited the emergency room due to bicycle-related injuries.

Not surprisingly, children aged 5-14 years, adolescents and young adults aged 15-24 years comprise the highest rate of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries. Those age groups also account for almost 60% of U.S. emergency room bicycle-related injuries. Males are much more likely than females to be killed or injured on bicycles. It may be surprising to learn, however, that most bicycle deaths occur in non-intersection locations in urban areas.

All bicyclists, regardless of how old they are or where they’re riding, should keep the following safety tips in mind to prevent further injuries and deaths from occurring:

Always wear a helmet! Helmets reduce the risk of head and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Donning a properly fitted bicycle helmet can mean the difference between life and death in the event of one’s head smacking a surface as unforgiving as pavement. Please note that in Florida, children under the age of 16 MUST wear a helmet when bicycle riding:

“A bicycle rider or passenger who is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap and that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, final rule, 16 C.F.R. part 1203. A helmet purchased before October 1, 2012, which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department may continue to be worn by a bicycle rider or passenger until January 1, 2016. As used in this subsection, the term ‘passenger’ includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.” (emphasis added). Fla. Stat. sec. 316.2065(d)

Make yourself visible. Wear fluorescent clothing to increase visibility at greater distances.

If riding at night, wear retro-reflective clothing.

Ensure that your bicycle is equipped with lamps or reflectors as required by Florida law:

“Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section. A law enforcement officer may issue a bicycle safety brochure and a verbal warning to a bicycle rider who violates this subsection or may issue a citation and assess a fine for a pedestrian violation as provided in s. 318.18. The court shall dismiss the charge against a bicycle rider for a first violation of this subsection upon proof of purchase and installation of the proper lighting equipment.”(emphasis added). Fla Stat. Sec. 316.2065(7)

Never bike while impaired.

Never assume a car knows a maneuver you plan on taking on the bike.

Only ride on roads that are safe for bike riding.

Following these tips can help protect you and your child from serious injury or death while bike riding. If the unthinkable happens, and you or your child have been injured while on a bicycle due to another’s negligence or your child or loved one has died due to another’s negligence, called the skilled attorneys at Brooks Law Group. We can help determine whether you are entitled to any compensation. Ride safely!

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, Bay News 9

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.