Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can improve cardiovascular fitness. It builds strength and endurance. Riding a bike instead of driving reduces air pollution and carbon emissions. Biking is very economical on fuel costs. After the initial purchase of a bike, the main ongoing costs are just simple maintenance. Bike commuting or running errands by bike can save money on gas, parking, and car maintenance. Cycling is also often quicker than driving for short urban trips.
Cycling can be a risky activity if proper precautions are not taken. Some key dangers include collisions with vehicles, poor road conditions leading to crashes, lack of helmet/protective gear increasing injury risk, weather hazards like rain or heat, overexertion leading to injury, and mechanical failures of the bicycle. Being alert and defensive while cycling and wearing proper safety gear can help reduce many of these risks.
Head and brain injuries are among the most serious of all cycling injuries. Helmet use is estimated to reduce head injury risk by 60-88%. Any person who suffers a head injury following a bicycle accident caused by another person should turn to a bicycle accident attorney for help. An attorney fights for them while they recover from this injury.
Scrapes and Road Rash
One of the most frequent minor injuries bicyclists experience is road rash or scrapes, especially on the knees, elbows, hands, and hips. This abrasion is caused by contact with the ground or road during a fall or collision. Though painful, road rash is usually not serious if the rider cleans the wound to avoid infection. Covering vulnerable skin with clothes, pads, or gloves can help reduce scrape injuries.
Sprains and Strains
Bicycling involves repetitive motions, like pedaling, which can lead to overuse injuries of the muscles or joints. Sprains refer to tears in ligaments, while strains are injuries to muscles or tendons. Common sites affected include the knees, ankles, shoulders, neck, and back. Proper bike fit, posture, training load management, and off-bike conditioning can help prevent many overuse strains and sprains.
Fractures are another common injury resulting from bike wrecks, especially if traffic or cars are involved. The wrist, shoulder, clavicle (collarbone), ribs, and ankles are frequent sites of breakage. Using hand and wrist guards when riding can help prevent fractures in falls. Maintaining safe speed, scanning for hazards, and following traffic laws will also minimize the risk of an accident and potential fractures.
A very common but minor nuisance injury is bruising, typically on the hip, arms, legs, and shoulders. New riders are particularly prone to bruised sit bones when starting out, which will diminish as the body adapts. While ugly and sore, most bruises heal quickly and are not serious. Wearing padded shorts and gloves may help reduce bruising from gripping the handles or saddle friction. Building core strength also takes pressure off sensitive tissues.
While the potential for injury may seem daunting, bicycling is generally safe if a rider takes some precautions. Wearing a helmet and protective gear, maintaining the bike, riding defensively, and respecting traffic laws will go a long way in preventing accidents and injuries. Starting slowly, building fitness, and listening to the body can also enhance safety as the rider develops better bike handling skills. With some common sense, bicycling can be an enjoyable and low-risk activity for people of all ages.