Bike Safely: Get Fit for the Ride
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Americans are increasingly bicycling to commute, for exercise, or just for fun.” Bicycling is a great way to get a workout and can also help with weight loss and sleep. Biking can be a fun activity with the Army’s Performance Triad. Performance Triad is the Army’s commitment to strengthen individual readiness and optimize performance of the Total Army Family through the synergy of health behaviors to include sleep, activity and nutrition. The Performance Triad recommends getting 300 minutes of physical activity a week and biking is great way to achieve this goal.
Does riding an electric bike count as exercise? It can, if you ride to get your physical activity, according to a new study comparing the physiological effects of e-bikes and standard road bicycles during a simulated commute. The study, which involved riders new to e-cycling, found most could complete their commutes faster and with less effort on e-bikes than standard bicycles, while elevating their breathing and heart rates enough to get a meaningful workout.2 An alluring technological compromise between a standard, self-powered bicycle and a scooter, e-bikes look almost like regular bikes but are fitted with battery-powered electric motors that assist with pedaling.
Whether a traditional bike or an e-bike, cycling enthusiasts across the country celebrate the many benefits of cycling. In order to maximize the experience and minimize risks, it’s important to take the necessary safety precautions.
Bicycle safety falls under the Army Safety Program, Army Regulation 385-10
• Bicycle safety will be an integral part of each installation traffic safety program.
• Bicycle helmets approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission will be worn by all personnel, including Family members, who ride bicycles on Army installations. Previously purchased bicycle helmets certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials may also be worn but when purchasing a new helmet, riders should look for the Consumer Product Safety Commission certification.
• Wearing headphones, earphones, or other listening devices while bicycling on or adjacent to roadways on DOD installations is prohibited.
• When bicycling on roadways on DOD installations during hours of darkness or reduced visibility, bicycles will be equipped with operable headlights and taillights, and the bicyclist will wear a reflective upper outer garment.
Tune up your bike to make it road worthy
Tune ups can vary in detail and are an important way to make sure your bike is functioning properly. Either you or your local bike shop can help with your bicycle tune-up. Here are a few items to consider when tuning up your bike:
• Clean the chain and brakes
• Adjust the cable tension, if needed
• Check the gears and derailleurs
• Make sure that your seat is at the proper height and that its locked in place to avoid slipping
• Ensure that your bicycle is working properly by checking to see that all parts are secure
• Check your bike wheels, spokes, rims, and the tires (for pressure/ inflation)
• Inspect any additional safety features you may have added on your bike, like a horn, bell, rear-view mirrors, bright headlight, and reflectors (rear, front, pedals and spokes).
Protecting you and your bike
Educate yourself on the various ways of protection while riding your bike. Most bicycle accidents occur within the evening hours between 6 pm and 9 pm and are most frequently in urban areas versus rural areas. In 2017, bike fatalities were eight times higher in men and 37 percent of fatal crashes involved alcohol. A large percentage of crashes can be avoided if motorists and cyclists follow the rules of the road and watch out for each other. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommendations to help keep you safe.
• Be visible. Wear bright clothing that allows cars to see you, especially during the night hours
• Ride your bike in the daytime. However, if you ride during nighttime, use flashing lights
• Wear a helmet. Adults and children should always wear a helmet that is certified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
• Ensure that your helmet fits properly.
o Ensure that the helmet fits snug, no rocking back and forth
o Correct positioning of the helmet on your forehead without any tipping forward or backwards
o Side Straps should form a “V” shape under and slightly in front of your ears
o Chin strap buckle should be centered under your chin with a snug fit
• Follow the rules of the road. Remember bicyclist follow the same rules as motorists
o Always ride in the direction of the traffic in a single file.
o Keep alert with your head up watching the traffic at all times
o Practice road sharing cues, using hands to signal left and right turns
o Before entering an intersection, remember to look left, right and over your shoulders to ensure safety upon entering
There are many reasons to go cycling, such as, getting fit without thinking about it too much. It is a low impact activity in comparison to jogging or running and it is a lifelong activity for any age. It is a great opportunity to discover different areas that you would not find while driving. And there are many more reasons to start biking. For more on Bike Safety on Army Installations, contact the local Installation Safety Office.
Alessio, Helaine M.; Reiman, Timothy; Kemper, Brett; von Carlowitz, Winston; Bailer, A. John; Timmerman, Kyle L. Metabolic and Cardiovascular Responses to a Simulated Commute on an E-Bike, Translational Journal of the ACSM: Spring 2021 - Volume 6 - Issue 2 - e000155
3. Department of the Army. 2017. Army Regulation 385-10, The Army Safety Program.