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From the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Bicycling Safety

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that over 500,000 persons suffer bicycle-related injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment each year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 140,000 of these persons are children who are treated for head injuries sustained while bicycling.

Each year more than 200 children die and nearly 400,000 cyclists under the age of 14 require emergency room treatment for injuries as a result of bicycle crashes. Many of these are attributable to skull and brain injuries. The National Head Injury Foundation estimates that each year nearly 50,000 bicyclists suffer serious head injuries leaving them with permanent disabilities. Fortunately, the good news is that bike helmets can help turn this tragic tide. A study in Seattle found that bicycle helmets reduced the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

Injuries or deaths associated with bicycle use result from:

  • Collision with a car or another bicycle.

  • Loss of Control - This occurs because of a number of factors including: difficulty in braking, riding too large a bike; riding too fast; riding double; stunting; striking a rut, bump or obstacle; and riding on slippery surfaces.

  • Mechanical and Structural Problems - These include brake failure; wobbling or disengagement of the wheel or steering mechanism; difficulty in shifting gears; chain slippage; pedals falling off; or spoke breakage.

  • Entanglement of a person's feet, hands or clothing in the bicycle.

  • Foot slippage from the pedal.

To make bicycles safer, the CPSC has developed a mandatory safety standard for bicycles to help eliminate injuries due to mechanical and structural failures. The CPSC regulations establish strict performance and construction standards for the brakes, wheels, steering system and frame. They require reflectors on the front, back, sides and pedals to make bicycles visible at night; require elimination of uncovered sharp edges and jutting parts; and require brakes on bicycles with seat height of 22 inches or more. New bicycles are required to meet the standards.

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