328 West Conan Street, Ely, Minnesota 55731

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Pedal Safely: A Guide to Staying Safe While Bicycling

Gear up, cyclists, because nature and the beautiful Mesabi Bike Trail are calling!

The Ely area is buzzing with excitement about this trail, a multimillion-dollar addition to our community’s outdoor offerings that’s been enticing cyclists to explore the region’s scenic beauty. The Mesabi Bike Trail’s popularity has skyrocketed, bringing with it a surge in bicycle accidents, especially with the rising use of e-bikes (electric bicycles).

At Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital (EBCH), we are committed to ensuring your cycling experience is not only fun but also safe. Following an uptick in bike-related injuries in summer 2023, it’s crucial for cyclists in the Ely area to understand potential risks and then apply bicycle or e-bike safety tips.

Understanding the Bike Injury Uptick

“EBCH has witnessed a significant rise in bicycle accidents, especially since the opening of Mesabi Bike Trail and the increasing use of e-bikes over the last year,” said Colin Yahnke, EBCH’s Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). “With this beautiful trail attracting many more cyclists, there’s a higher statistical likelihood of an incident. The asphalt surfaces, particularly in high-speed areas, pose a challenge because they contribute to a higher energy transfer during accidents.”

Yahnke also pointed out that e-bikes come with their own set of safety requirements and specific risks.

“E-bikes have become really popular. They require less energy to pedal, and they’re capable of reaching speeds up to 40 mph,” he explained. “The efficiency attracts many older adults, but they might not be prepared for the speeds they achieve. Plus, as we age, our vulnerability to energy transfer increases, making incidents potentially fatal. This can be really dangerous if, say, an elderly individual hits a tree at 25 mph – the consequences can be severe.”

Following this recent uptick in cycling accidents, EBCH has put together some of the top bike safety tips to help ensure everyone pedals confidently and enjoys the spring and summer seasons – without unnecessary pain or injury.

Top 8 Tips for Bike Safety

1) Gear Up for Safety: Safeguarding yourself begins with proper gear. A well-fitted helmet is your first line of defense against head injuries. Choose one that meets safety standards and replace it if it has been involved in a previous accident. 

2) Stay Alert and Aware: Vigilance is your ally on the road. To mitigate risks, cyclists should be aware of their surroundings, reduce speeds in challenging areas and prioritize safety over speed. Avoid distractions like using your phone while cycling, as split-second reactions can make a significant difference in preventing accidents.

3) Check Your Ride: Before starting a cycling trip, conduct a thorough check of your bicycle. Ensure tires are properly inflated, brakes respond effectively and the chain is well-lubricated. Regular maintenance improves safety and also prolongs the life of the bicycle.

4) Obey Traffic Rules: Bicycles are vehicles, too, and obeying traffic rules is paramount for a safe journey. Come to a complete stop at stop signs, adhere to traffic signals and use clear hand signals for turns. 

5) Know Your Limits on E-Bikes: E-bikes offer efficiency, but understanding their capabilities is vital for safety. Practice responsible speed management to prevent injuries. Reducing speed and knowing your limits can be critical to minimizing any potential injuries, particularly to chest walls and lungs.

6) Enhance Visibility: Being visible is key to avoiding accidents. Wear bright, reflective clothing, especially during low-light hours, like dawn or dusk. Equip your bike with proper lights and reflectors for better visibility – this will help reduce the risk of collisions with other trail users.

7) Be Mindful of Pedestrians: Courtesy goes a long way. Exercise caution when approaching pedestrians, providing clear signals of your approach. A friendly ring of a bell or a verbal greeting helps create a harmonious environment for everyone.

8) Nighttime Riding Precautions: If you’re venturing out during the evening or early morning when it’s still dark, prioritize strong visibility. Make sure your bike has both front and rear lights that meet legal requirements. Bike reflectors and bright clothing can also improve visibility, reducing the chance of accidents in low-light conditions.

EBCH: Here When You Need Us

At EBCH, your safety is our top priority. While we sincerely hope you won’t need it, remember that our ER is open 24/7 and can help in the case of a bicycle accident. 

Your safety matters to us. Pedal with caution, and enjoy the ride!

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