Spokies Oklahoma City Bike Share Safety Tips
But a recent study in The Washington Post is a reminder that bike share programs need to focus on safety and users of bike share programs should provide their own bicycle helmets. The study, in the American Journal of Public Health, suggests the proportion of bicycle-related head injury accidents has increased in cities with bike share programs like Spokies, though that study has some limitations.
Do Bike Share Programs Lead to Brain Injuries?
The study by Washington State University researchers suggests there was a 14 percent greater risk of a cyclist suffering a head injury in cities that have bike share programs, according to the Washington Post. The researchers compared head injury data for cyclists in five cities before and after the bike share program began, and found a 7.8 percent increase in the number of head injuries. The article noted that no bike share programs provide helmets, though several are making plans to start offering helmet rentals as well.
The researchers said that the conclusion of the study is that the launch of bicycle share programs is linked to increased odds that a person admitted to an emergency room for an injury related to a bicycle accident will have an head injury. They said that was attributable to the fact that a low percentage of bike share users wear helmets.
But several reports suggested the research was far too limited. Smithsonian.com says that while the study did find an increased proportion of head injuries among bike injuries in bike share cities, it failed to point out that there were fewer head injuries overall in these cities. Overall, injuries among bicyclists in these cities actually declined, according to Kay Teschke, who studies urban cycling at the University of British Columbia.
Safety Questions Largely Surround Lack of Helmet Use
A criticism of bike share programs is that in most cities, they do not provide helmets. Both Seattle and Boston have plans to use helmet-vending boxes in the near future, but elsewhere riders are on their own.
Some have argued that requiring rider to wear helmets will decrease usage of the programs.
Spokies does not provide helmets and encourages riders to bring their own safety equipment. Local bike shop Schlegel Bicycles has paired with Spokies and offers a 15 percent discount on helmets when you show your Spokies receipt or membership card.
That brings us to the number one tip for Spokies safety: Use a helmet.
It’s simple: if you are involved in a bicycle accident you are much more likely to die if you forgo head protection. A helmet can save your life.
Other important safety tips include:
- Follow the rules of the road. Though you may not be in a car, the laws still apply to you.
- Wear visible and reflective gear to ensure vehicles see you.
- Stay focused and alert.
- Remove ear buds (at least one), so that you can hear traffic noises and people around you.
- Use hand signals to make your intentions known.
- Share the road responsibly.
- Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you.
- Wear a helmet. (Just in case you missed it the first time.)
Bike sharing has numerous benefits
The Spokies bike share program is one that can benefit the whole of OKC. It helps keep citizens healthy, reduces pollution, and creates a sense of community around the program.
Currently there are bike kiosks around the city where you can check out a bike in 30-minute increments or sign up for monthly or yearly passes. The program is affordable and a no-brainer, particularly for people who spend a significant amount of time in the downtown area.
For more information, see the Spokies website.
Spokies Bike Share photo courtesy of Jennifer James [flickr]
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