Bicycle Safety Tips for Seniors

Bicycling is great exercise for senior citizens, but seniors may have a number of safety factors to consider. There are age-related impairments, like weak balance, poor strength, and deteriorating vision that seniors need to account for.

Seniors and Bicycle Accidents

At any age, bicycle riders may suffer from injuries or get into accidents, however it is even more common for senior bicyclists to do so. A study completed by researchers at the University Of California San Francisco, found a significant increase in in serious injuries among senior bicyclists. According to the data, between 1998 and 2013, there was an increase of 28% in bicycle injuries among all adults, and much of that increase was driven by senior citizens. Injuries involving persons above the age of 45 increased by 81% to a total of 32% of all bicycle-related injuries during the study period.

None of these injuries were minor injuries. Hospital admissions for bicycle-related injuries increased by 120% for all adult bicyclists while the rate of head injuries increased to 16% of all injuries. Senior citizens unfortunately accounted for a significant proportion of these statistics.

There has been a push to promote bicycling among senior citizens, not just for the exercise benefits, but also to penance emotional and mental health for senior citizens. However, that increase in senior bicycling rates has come at a price. As more senior citizens join the bicycling population, it’s important for Denver authorities to pay even more attention to improvements in bicycle infrastructure. More numbers of bicycling lanes, promotion of helmet use among bicyclists, as well as greater awareness of bicyclist rights as well as bicyclist education, can help prevent many bicycle accidents every year.

How Can Seniors Stay Safe on Bicycles?

Seniors don’t have to give up riding a bicycle just to avoid accidents. The trick is to take the time to learn how to ride bicycles safely. Seniors can safely ride bicycles through the streets of Denver as long as they know the basics about bicycle accident prevention.

First, you must be riding a bicycle that fits your body type properly. Make sure that your bicycle is comfortable to ride. Some seniors prefer a regular upright bike, while others prefer a bike with a back support. Try multiple styles in the store before deciding which one to purchase. If you find that your balance is beginning to waver, get yourself a three -wheeled bicycle to stay safe. Never take one or both hands off of the bicycle handlebars. Doing so makes it much harder to steer the bicycle, especially when you are forced to quickly respond to the environment, and could lead to a higher risk of getting in an accident.

If you’re a frequent bike rider, be sure to keep up with bike maintenance to guarantee that your bike is safe to ride. Check the brake pads periodically and keep the chains lubricated at all times. Make sure that you do not have any air leaks in your tires before setting out on the road.

Bicycle helmets are not just for children or new riders. No matter how old you are, you should always wear a bicycle helmet that fits properly. In fact, some studies have shown that around 90% of bicycle fatalities are the result of not wearing a helmet. Check the fit of your helmet by placing it on and shaking your head back and forth before buckling the chin strap. If the helmet has a lot of movement while you shake your head, then it is not the right fit. Either add safety padding to the inside of your helmet to make it a more snug fit, or choose a smaller size. When choosing a helmet, look for one that has been approved by the Department of Transportation, which is a sign that the helmet is designed to protect you in case of an accident.

As seniors, it’s important to accommodate for all of the impairments that might make it difficult for you to ride safely. For instance, younger bicyclists may ride at high speeds, zip in and out of traffic, and may ride on all kinds of terrain. However, senior citizens must ride only when it is comfortable and safe for them to do so. Limit your riding to the daytime and good visibility. Avoid riding at night or during rush hour traffic, since this will require seniors to respond quickly to oncoming cars.

If you absolutely must ride at night, it’s important to take precautions to ensure that you’re seen by other drivers. Choose fluorescent clothing that will stand out when drivers’ lights flash on you, and if possible, buy cycling gear designed with reflective pieces built in. Invest in reflective tape that can be applied directly to your bike and helmet.

Ride only on bike paths that are separated from traffic. It’s important to remember that sidewalks are not bike paths. Riding along a sidewalk can lead to accidents involving you and pedestrians, so it’s best to stay off of the sidewalk. Avoid riding in traffic. Remember, motorists are not always accommodating of bicyclists, and there could be a hostile situation that causes you injury. If you do have to venture into the street to cross, remember to use hand signals that alert drivers of your next move. Bikes don’t have blinking turning signals, so it’s up to you to convey your next move to other drivers around you.

If you have failing vision, visit a specialist, and get eyeglasses that can help you ride safely. Remember, as a senior bicyclist, you are at a much higher risk of injuries in an accident. At any time, if you question whether your vision is not strong enough to ride a bicycle, talk to your doctor about whether or not it’s safe to do so.

If you have suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, speak to a Denver bicycle accident lawyer about filing a claim for compensation. Your claim should cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other types of damages. Schedule a consultation with a Denver bicycle accident lawyer today.

By: Dallas Norton

Dallas Norton, the founding partner of Norton & Bowers, has practiced law with a focus on personal injury since 1992. Mr. Norton has extensive Colorado roots including grade school in Arvada and high school in Denver. He earned his J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School in 1991. When working on behalf of clients, Mr. Norton draws upon his extensive background in psychology and human resources.