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Helmet use and other important points for bicyclists to know

The weather in Chicago is conducive to bike riding for much of the year. The city has more than 200 miles of bike lanes throughout the area. Chicago has also provided bicycle racks dotted around the city to help encourage residents to get active and ride.

Anyone who is going to enjoy these bike lanes needs to understand some of the important safety guidelines. These include everything from choosing a proper helmet to ensuring that you understand the rules of the road.

What makes a good helmet for bicyclists?

A good helmet is one that will protect your head from suffering a serious injury if you're involved in a crash. In order to ensure that your helmet will accomplish this goal, it must fit properly. When the helmet is strapped on your head, the V of the side straps should be just below your ears. You should feel the helmet push on your head if you open your mouth. If you look up with your eyes, you should see the front edge of the helmet.

Once you find a helmet that fits properly, you might feel like you want to keep it forever. You cannot do this, however, because the helmet's effectiveness will diminish over time because the foam will become stiff and will not absorb shocks if you're in an accident. Your helmet should be replaced at least every two years, and, if it is damaged in an accident, you must get a new one.

What basic safety rules do bicyclists follow?

Bicyclists must follow the same laws as motorists. Some drivers do not realize this and think they always have the right of way. It is true that bicyclists should ride as close to the right side of the road as possible, but you can overtake a lane if you need to for safety.

All bikes must be given at least a 3-foot space between the bike and a vehicle. Motorists must also yield to bicyclists in the same manner as they do other vehicles.

Unfortunately, not all motorists take the safety of bicyclists seriously. If you are struck by a vehicle, you should determine if you need medical care. If you do, make that a priority. You may then opt to pursue a compensation claim from the driver to recover the damages associated with the crash.

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