How to make cycling on mountain trails and paths safer for everyone
Warmer weather is finally upon us, and with it comes all the exciting outdoor recreational activities Colorado has to offer which includes mountain biking and trail riding. Denver itself is often called a paradise for cyclists, with the Mile High City boasting more than 85 miles of paved trails that connect to hundreds of additional miles of dirt trails. However, according to a 2015 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, cycling injuries are on the rise, with injuries to those over 45 jumping more than 80 percent in the past 15 years alone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that annually over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.
Rob Coppolillo, 43, who was an elite level amateur bicycle racer for 10 years, led cycling tours in Italy and regularly rides in his town of Boulder says, “For the vast majority of us, it’s a pretty safe sport.” But many studies beg to differ, noting that mountain biking accidents may be on the rise. According to George Loewenstein, a professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, bike accidents are “likely to be dramatically underreported” because “unlike auto accidents, they rarely involve either an insurance claim or a police report. And injured cyclists may not go to emergency rooms. Even those with a broken collarbone may see an orthopedist instead.”
To better protect off-road cyclists and those around them, the International Mountain Bicycling Association developed the Rules of the Trail program to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails.
- Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures and do not trespass on private land because these areas are unknown to cyclists and may be unsafe.
- Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones.
- Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.
- Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly marked for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly marked for one-way or downhill-only traffic. As a general rule, always strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.
- Never Scare Animals: Animals, like horses or nearby cattle, may be easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise which can result in an accident.
- Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Always keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions, and always wear a helmet and proper safety gear.
If you or a loved one were injured in a bicycle accident, contact an experienced Colorado bicycle accident lawyer who can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for emotional pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and other costs.
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