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NHTSA Kicks-Off National Bike Month/Praises Youth Efforts to Promote Safe Bicycling

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

NHTSA Kicks-Off National Bike Month/Praises Youth Efforts to Promote Safe Bicycling

May 10, 2000

NHTSA 19-00
Wednesday, May 10, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Cathy Hickey, (202) 366-9550

To further promote safety on the nation's roadways, Rosalyn G. Millman, the Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today joined more than 100 youth from the Washington, D.C. area and beyond to kick-off National Bike Month. She made the announcement during Earth Force's "Get Out Spoke'n!" Youth Bicycle Summit on Capitol Hill.

In 1998, traffic crashes killed 761 bicyclists and injured an additional 53,000. Bicyclists under age 16 accounted for 30 percent of all bicyclists killed and 44 percent of those injured. Bicycle helmets are the single most effective countermeasure to death or serious injury in the event of a crash and are 85-88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries. The current national average for helmet use is only 20-25 percent.

"I am thrilled that so many young people are promoting safe cycling," said NHTSA Acting Administrator Rosalyn G. Millman. "These young people will help us ensure that every rider always wears a helmet and follows the rules of the road."

According to NHTSA estimates, universal helmet use by children ages 4-15 would prevent 135 to 155 deaths annually. It is also estimated that every dollar spent on bicycle helmets for children ages 4-15 saves $3 in health care costs.

At the summit Millman praised the youth award winners from around the country (see attached list) for their contributions to improve bicycle safety and to promote bicycling as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to driving.

Millman also provided the following 10 safety tips:

  • Protect Your Head: Always wear a helmet that complies with the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) standard. Bicyclists should select a helmet that fits snugly and sits flat on the head. For children, use the extra padding that comes with the helmet to ensure a proper fit. This padding can be removed as the child's head grows.

  • Assure Bicycle Readiness: Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly. Before riding your bicycle, check to make sure all parts are secure and working well. The handlebars should be firmly in place and turn easily. Your wheels must be straight and secure.

  • Check Your Brakes: Keep your brakes adjusted at all times. If you cannot stop quickly, consult your owner's manual or have a bicycle shop adjust the brakes. When your hand brake levers are fully applied, they should not touch the handlebars. Each brake shoe pad should wear evenly and never be separated more than one eighth inch from the rim.

  • Make Yourself Visible: Wear clothes that make you more visible to drivers such as neon, florescent, or other bright colors when riding a bicycle.

  • Avoid Biking at Night: It is far more dangerous to bicycle at night than during the day. Most bicycles are equipped for daylight use and need to be adapted for nighttime use.

  • Stay Alert: Always keep a lookout for obstacles in your path. Watch out for potholes, cracks, expansion joints, railroad tracks, wet leaves, drainage grates, or anything that could make you fall. Be especially careful in wet weather and when there could be ice or frost on your path.

  • Always Ride in the Right Direction: Ride on the right side in a straight and predictable path. Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles. Riding against traffic puts you where motorists don't expect to see you, and may pull across your path, or turn into you.

  • Check for Traffic: Always be aware of the traffic around you. Over 70 percent of car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersections. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic. Always look left-right-left, and walk your bicycle into the street to begin your ride.

  • Obey the Rules of the Road: Learn all traffic laws. Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey the same rules. Read your state driver's handbook, and follow all traffic signs, laws and rules for operating a vehicle on the road. Always signal your moves and be courteous to pedestrians and other vehicle operators.

  • Close Quick Release Wheels: If your bicycle has quick release wheels, it is your responsibility to make sure they are firmly closed at all times and to use the safety retainer if there is one. Check your wheels before every ride, after any fall, or after transporting your bicycle. Read your owner's manual for instructions and follow them.

    Additional information on bicycle safety is available on NHTSA's website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike


    Get Out Spoken! Recognition Award Winners 2000

    Not Just Your Ordinary Bike-to-School Day, Colonia, New Jersey

    Adele Ellis's sixth-graders at the St. John Vianney School in Colonia, New Jersey, are working to make the Township of Woodbridge a better place to bike. The students surveyed the school and found that many students and teachers lived within bicycling distance to the school. Further investigation found that the county maintained the areaman's few bike paths and that the township owned no bike paths. They contacted local officials and wrote letters to their newspapers. Thanks to their work the City Council will soon announce where the first township-owned bike path will be built. That path will bear the students' group name for their efforts. To raise more awareness they organized a bike-to-school day on May 3. They were joined that day by a state senator, who bikeed with some of the students to school and presented them with a Senate resolution for their work. The mayor, who was out of town, sent a video-taped presentation congratulating the students as well as a Proclamation that was presented by three township council members.

    Erie Bike Force, Erie, Pennsylvania

    Eighteen young people involved in Glinodo Earth Force in Erie, Pennsylvania, collected hundreds of surveys and assessments that indicated safety is a major concern when it comes to bicycling in the area. They have been holding events, making presentations and partnering with other local government agencies, organizations and student groups to get the word out about safe bicycling. They will also promote the issue through web pages being built and maintained for them by Go Erie, their local paper's web site. The site, which should be up and running by late spring, will have resources such as links and games that encourage safe biking.

    Pedaling in Paradise, Cape Coral, Florida

    When the Sanibel School realized it had a limited budget for field trips because of transportation costs, they thought bicycling would be the answer. The students had two problems to tackle before the bike field trips could begin: addressing legitimate safety concerns and providing everyone with an appropriately-sized bicycle. To make the existing, narrow paths safer, they successfully convinced city officials to widen the paths as part of construction projects on storm drains. The students have been visiting city hall this spring to gain support for two new bike paths that they have proposed where student traffic is high. Through a grant the school was able to purchase 30 bicycles, helmets, safety vests and baskets. The students created a checklist with requirements that must be met before they can bike to a field trip destination. Thanks to their work, the students of Sanibel School will be able to enjoy more natural resources their barrier island has to offer.

    Get Out Spoken! Honorable Mentions 2000

    Have-a-Bike, Mount Kisco, NY

    Girl Scout Junior Troop 2080 of Westchester/Putnam knew outgrown bicycles were sitting unused in garages throughout the community. They launched Have-a-Bike to collect and repair the bicycles and pass them onto children who could not afford to buy a bike of their own. They collected more than 80 bicycles to date and took repair classes to fix the bikes themselves. They are working to have helmets donated to their cause. With the help of two local social service agencies, they plan to give correctly-sized bicycles, a helmet and safety information to children in need.

    Rack Your Bike, Treasure Island, CA

    Students at the Learning Academy, a San Francisco charter juvenile justice high school, consulted local experts and surveyed the community about bicycling issues. They found that local citizens were concerned about not having enough bike racks on the island. They are working on identifying areas where bike racks are needed and which entities could cover such costs. The students are also working to organize a bike rodeo to promote bike safety for Treasure Island Elementary School.

    More Bikes for All, Sheridan, CO

    The students of Sheridan Middle School surveyed other young people and found that many want to ride bikes but do not have access to them due to limited family resources. Sheridan is an economically depressed town outside of Denver. The students worked with local police departments to repair the abandoned bicycles in police possession. Students from Sheridan Middle and High Schools along with Americorp volunteers spent two weeks fixing the bikes. They received a donation of 60 bicycle helmets from St. Anthony's Hospital Trauma Services Unit. The students developed a bike safety class, which 60 Sheridan children attended. Their success was celebrated with a community bicycle ride through Sheridan and an awards ceremony.


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