MARQUETTE - In a city that has put an increasing emphasis on bicycling, bike safety - whether riding a path, the road or in a bike lane - is becoming an ever bigger issue.
Experts remind us that it's always safer to wear a helmet, when riding - but cyclists are not required by law to do so. According to bicycle safety information from the Marquette Police Department, studies have proven that bicycle helmet use can significantly reduce head injuries. In 2010, 52,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents, with 618 people dying. And 18 percent of those deaths were children age 14 and under, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To fit helmet properly for a child or adult there are six steps to make sure it's secure. Step one is picking a helmet of appropriate size. NHTSA suggests measuring the head for approximate size and trying on different helmets to ensure a snug fit. Step two is positioning:?the helmet should sit level on the rider's head and low on the forehead, sitting one to two finger-widths above the eyebrow.
As part of the 2010 annual bike rodeo, area residents could have their bikes licensed through the city. Here Officer Jackie Sweeney helps a family identify the serial numbers on their bikes. This year’s event is set for June 7. (Journal file photo)
The strap is also crucial to safety. The left buckle should be centered under the chin. The slider on both straps needs to be adjusted to form a "V" shape under, and slightly in front of, the ears. The next step is to buckle the chin strap and tighten the strap until it's snug so that no more than two fingers fit under the strap. The last step is the final fitting.
According to the NHTSA, to make sure the helmet fits right, yawn big to make sure the helmet pulls down on the head; make sure it doesn't rock back and forth or from side to side.
In the interest of promoting bike safety, Marquette General Hospital hosts an annual Bike Rodeo event, where children and young adults can practice riding in a controlled environment, get safety tips and get helmets properly fitted.
Marissa Palomaki, Women's and Children's Center Community and Family Education Coordinator at MGH, helps with this event to make sure children bike safely.
"We want to prevent accidents and educate kids on the importance of wearing their helmets," Palomaki said. "We also provide them with a really cool helmet that they get to pick out they will want to wear."
The Bike Rodeo is June 7 at 4 p.m. in the Marquette Commons. No registration is necessary. MGH has partnered with the Kohl's Care Program to put together two safety presentations a year. One is the Bike Rodeo.
"We feel it's a great way to teach kids about safety and to give back to the community," Palomaki said.
The City of Marquette offers more than 16 miles of multiuse paths providing access to parks throughout the city, which are used by riders, walkers, runners, rollerbladers and skateboarders. The police department suggests that faster bike riders us the roadway.
According to a city ordinance, riders must warn others when approaching on the path by saying something along the lines of "one to left" or "coming up on your right."
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.