Go Cycling, But Do It Safely - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Healthy Living Online

Published on November 20, 2017

bicycle helmet

Go Cycling, But Do It Safely

bicyle helmetRiding a bicycle can be great. It gets you outside in the fresh air while providing the same cardiovascular benefits you get from other forms of aerobic exercise, like walking or running. It’s easy on the joints and helps prevent cartilage damage, which may make it a good for someone suffering from foot problems, knee troubles or other impact-related injuries.

However, it can be dangerous too, especially in California. According to findings published in the Governors Highway Safety Association report in 2014, bicycle deaths accounted for about 2% of motor vehicle deaths nationwide but over 4% in California. And the number is going up. Between 2010 and 2012, U.S. bicyclist deaths increased by 16%.

The best thing you can do to stay safe when riding your bike is to wear a helmet. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 85% of cyclists’ head injuries could be prevented if the rider wears a Consumer Product Safety Commission certified helmet. Not only is wearing a bicycle helmet a smart thing to do, for some it’s also the law.

What you may not know is that California has a bicycle helmet law that requires anyone under the age of 18 to a helmet when riding a bicycle on a street, bike way or public bicycle path or trail, even if you’re a passenger. That includes children who are sitting in a restraining seat or being towed behind the bike in a trailer.

Even though the law targets bicycle riding specifically, it also applies to scooters, inline skates and skateboards.

In order to follow the law, you have to be sure that your bicycle helmet meets the legal standard. That means it should have a prominent label from the manufacturer which says that the helmet meets the necessary safety standards of either the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation’s Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling or the American Society for Testing Materials. Since it’s illegal to sell a helmet in California that doesn’t meet at least one of these legal standards, you should be fine as long as you bought your helmet here.

When shopping for a helmet, it’s also important to make sure it fits properly. That means it sits low on your head and should comfortably touch your head all the way around. It should stay in place when you shake your head, and it should cover most of your forehead. If the helmet slides back off your forehead, it’s not going to provide the protection you need. The best way to get a proper fit is to have an expert at the bicycle shop or sporting goods store help you.

“Cycling is great for all ages. Everyone can benefit from riding a bike, from children to the elderly. For the elderly, it is a great non weight bearing exercise for the knees.” said Mehwish Khan MD.

To choose a PIH Health Family Medicine doctor call our Santa Fe Springs office at 562.789.5434.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

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