With more people choosing to bike to work and for recreation, accidents and injuries are also on the rise.
Having the right bike helmet can significantly cut the risk of injury, but up until now there was not a standardized rating that consumers could use to determine the effectiveness of a bike helmet. A new ratings program, based on research by Virginia Tech and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), changes that.
The program used more rigorous tests than required by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), for example, taking into account the angle at which a bicyclist’s head is likely to strike the pavement in a crash.
The number of stars assigned to each helmet represents how effectively that model reduces overall injury risk. Only four of the 30 helmets tested in the initial round earned a 5-star rating. All four are equipped with a Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). MIPS creates a low-friction layer inside the helmet which helps to reduce rotational forces that can result from certain impacts.
With better ways to gauge helmet safety, there still remains the problem of getting people to wear them. By some estimates only 18 percent of riders regularly wear helmets.
The I.I.I. has facts & statistics on bicycle crashes here.
In honor of National Bike To Work Day here are some key facts for our two-wheeled transportation enthusiasts:
- The number of cyclists commuting by bike increased by 64 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- An estimated 900,000 U.S. workers rode a bike to work in 2015, up from 730,000 in 2010, Census data reveals
- Bicyclists accounted for 2 percent of all traffic deaths and 2 percent of all crash-related injuries in 2014. Bicyclist deaths occurred most often in urban areas (71 percent)
- If your bike is stolen or damaged it will be covered under the personal property section of your homeowners or renters insurance policies
- If you own a particularly expensive bicycle, you may want to consider getting an endorsement that will provide additional coverage, advises the I.I.I.
- If you injure someone in a bicycle accident and you get sued, there is liability protection under your homeowners or renters insurance policy that will cover you up to the limits of your policy
- Your homeowners or renters insurance also includes no-fault medical coverage in the event you injure someone
Check out additional I.I.I. information on bicycle safety and insurance here.
And for those living in NYC, Curbed NY has a handy guide to the city’s five best neighborhoods for cyclists.