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Stay safer by treating your bike like an airplane

Bicyclists are exposed to the elements when they're on the road. They don't have a heavy metal frame for protection -- so when they get into a crash, serious injuries result. Aside from wearing the usual protective gear -- like helmets and reflective vests -- what can bicyclists do to be safer?

One way bicyclists can stay safer is to do something that airplane pilots do before they get on the road. Every time an airplane pilot prepares for takeoff, he or she diligently goes through a safety checklist to ensure that the airplane is safe and ready for flight. With this in mind, bicyclists can perform a similar checklist:

-- Check the tire pressure and the conditions of the tires: You can do this with your hand. A simple squeeze on the tires is enough to know if they're inflated enough. A visual inspection will tell you if they have sufficient tread and if they're free of punctures.

-- Brake check: Give the brakes a squeeze, and try riding a few meters and testing the brakes. Make sure the bike is stopping well.

-- Are the wheels secure? Test the quick release levers on both wheels to make sure they're tight. These can loosen up and send you flying into traffic if they're not tight enough.

-- Test all the bolts: Your bike has bolts at different places that hold moving parts steady and prevent your bike from literally falling apart underneath you. These bolts can get loose, so give them all a wiggle check.

-- Make sure your reflectors and lights are firmly attached: White front lights, red taillights and reflectors can get loose and fall off. Double-check to make sure they're all there.

There you have it. Now you can be like an airplane pilot and do a pre-bike ride checklist to stay safe. If a Virginia Beach bike rider still gets injured in a serious bike crash -- even though he or she has been as safe and law-abiding as possible -- it may be possible to pursue a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the crash.

Source: REI, "Basic Cycling Checklist," accessed April 21, 2017

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