The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 6, 2014

Brushing up on bike safety

Helmets are a must for any age of bike-rider

A warmer spring has been the southern Minnesotans' reward for endless winter of yesteryear. And when the weather warms, out come the bikes.

With an abundance of trails, as well as health- and environment-conscious residents, Greater Mankato is full of people who bike to work or take the family on a ride around the countryside.

At the same time, it's important to keep safety in mind. It would seem that helmets would be a no-brainer, but only a small percentage of Americans wear them.

Head injury is the leading cause of bicycle-related deaths and using a helmet is the most effective way to reduce these injuries and fatalities.

When shopping for one, the Department of Health offers these tips:

• be sure the helmet sits level on your head, covering the top of the forehead; is snug yet comfortable; and has limited movement from side to side and front to back.

• All helmets sold in the United States must be approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), so look for a CPSC sticker.

• If you fall and strike your head on the ground, replace the helmet. Keep all your protective gear and equipment in good working order.

All bicyclists should also know and follow the rules of the road.

• Ride on the right side of the road. You will head in the same direction as cars so you will see their tail lights, not their headlights.

• Obey traffic signs and signals just as you would if you were driving a car. Stop at all intersections and marked and unmarked crosswalks. Stop and look both ways before you enter a street.

• Yield the right of way to pedestrians, skateboarders and skaters. Never pass until you have the other person's attention.

• Children should ride on sidewalks and paths until they are at least 10 years old, are able to show good riding skills and are able to observe basic rules of the road.

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