Protect your noggin and its valuable contents this Bike Safety Month with Dr. Lopez-Gonzalez’s road safety tips.

Bicycle enthusiasts rejoice, the warm weather is officially here. It’s time to dust off the bikes, helmets and knee pads while brushing up on the rules of the road. 

Miguel Lopez-Gonzalez, MD, FACS, a neurosurgeon at Loma Linda University Health, reminds riders of all ages that the key to avoiding injuries is prevention. Whether it’s the first time a child hops on a bike or a seasoned pro taking the bike for a weekend spin, it’s important to consider the following rules for a safe and enjoyable ride. This goes for motorists too.

Safety rules for bicyclists

  • Always wear a helmet. 
  • Elbow pads and knee pads are encouraged. 
  • Parents need to watch children riders. 
  • Use training wheels as needed.
  • Wear bright colors and reflective clothing.
  • Apply reflectors, bells, and horns.
  • Follow designated bike lanes.
  • Respect all traffic signals. 
  • Be alert of surroundings. 
  • Avoid riding too close to parked cars. 

Safety rules for motorists

  • Always wear a seatbelt. 
  • Respect designated bike lane. 
  • Yield to bicyclists while turning. 
  • Be mindful of the speed limit. 
  • Use car signals at all times.
  • Refrain from honking at a bicyclist. 
  • Look both ways at an intersection. 
  • Keep a safe distance from bicyclists. 
  • Avoid all distractions while driving. 
  • Be alert of surroundings. 

Lopez-Gonzalez encourages cyclists to always wear a properly fitted helmet while riding to avoid serious injuries to the head. Helmets are 85 percent effective in reducing the risk of a brain injury, according to Think First, the National Injury Prevention Foundation. According to Lopez-Gonzalez, helmets are also estimated to reduce the odds of face and spinal cord injuries by 33 percent. 

Injuries to the skull, face and spinal cord are possible when riding a bike; however, they are rare, says Lopez-Gonzalez. The more riders wear their helmets, the easier it is to prevent a life-threatening injury. 

In March, Lopez-Gonzalez addressed a local school in Redlands about bike safety tips and how it’s important to always be aware of their surroundings. “An injury can happen at any time,” he told the audience. 

Lopez-Gonzalez leads the Think First Inland Empire Chapter and is currently working with local schools in the Inland Empire to educate children and parents on safety rules for riding a bike, playing outdoors, at home and in the car. When it comes to driving, wearing a seat-belt is mandatory as is wearing a helmet on a bike, says Lopez-Gonzalez.

“The goal is to continue educating the younger generation about injury prevention and to always think first, and wear a helmet,” he says.