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Don't risk biking without a helmet

More than 800 people die in bike accidents annually
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Wearing a bike helmet is mandatory for kids, but look around – how many youth are really doing it? Liza Berry, 17, of Loomis, doesn’t ride bikes that often any more, but when she does she’s certain to wear a helmet. “It’s not worth it, the dangers that go along with it,” Liza said of foregoing head protec-tion. Liza knows first-hand the dangers of cycling without a helmet. Five years ago when she was 12 years old, she went to a neighbor’s house and hopped on one of their bikes, with no helmet. Moments later, she and another child bumped into each other and Liza was thrown to the ground. Her head hit the pavement and she was knocked unconscious and began having a seizure. When she regained consciousness, emergency crews were readying her for a helicopter flight to the University of California Davis Medical Center where surgery was performed to remove a blood hemorrhage from the surface of her brain. Liza was fortunate. She survived the accident and made a complete recovery. Today, she is a healthy and active and will be a Del Oro High School senior in fall. Others are not so lucky. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles web-site, every year in California, “over one hundred people are killed, and hundreds of thou-sands more are injured in bicycle collisions.” The California Vehicle Code states that bike helmets are mandatory for cyclists under the age of 18. That rule also applies to minors riding skateboards, skates and scooters. “The ground is very unforgiving,” said Bob Brodovsky, Placer County Sheriff and Loomis traffic safety officer. Brodovsky said he sees young people riding bikes without proper head protection “on a daily basis.” He said he will stop minors without helmets and tell them to go home and get the helmet and put it on. “I’m trying to be a little low-key. I don’t want to cite a bunch of kids, but if need be, I will,” he said. According to David Martinez of the California Highway Patrol all rules of the road apply to bicyclists. Bike riders can be cited for impeding traffic by riding in the middle of the road, or riding side-by-side instead of single file. They also must obey all traffic signals and stop signs just as vehicles do. A Highway Patrol brochure on bike safety states that mistakes by bike riders can be dan-gerous and cause accidents. The most common mistakes are riding on the wrong side of the road, weaving, making unsafe left turns, riding from a driveway or sidewalk into a car’s path and riding at night without headlights or reflectors. Vehicle drivers also make mistakes that cause accidents with bike riders. A driver making an unsafe left or right turn can hit a bicyclist. Many cyclists have been injured or killed when a driver of a parked car suddenly opens a car door, leaving the rider with no place to go. Brodovsky advises drivers to be aware and cautious of bike riders, especially with chil-dren now out of school for summer vacation. Liza said kids are too worried about looking cool instead of being safe. She has some advise for youth who are tempted to leave their helmets at home when they take off on their bikes. “Just listen to your parents and wear it,” Liza said. Families with children ages 0 to 14 may be eligible for free bike helmets from Safe Kids Placer County. Call Jim Owens at 772-6300 for information about qualifying income levels. ------------------- BIKE SAFETY TIPS Always wear a helmet. Stop at all stop signs and red lights. Obey traffic signs and signals. Don’t wear headphones in both ears. Ride single file. Stay to the right, riding with traffic, not against it. Watch for doors opening on parked cars. Ride on less busy roads. Yield to pedestrians and horses. Make eye contact with drivers to be sure they see you. Watch for cars at cross streets and driveways. Be predictable, visible and communicate your intentions to motorists. Don’t bike at night, but if you do, wear bright clothing, use a good light and reflectors. Walk your bike through cross walks. Keep your bike in good condition. Source: California Department of Motor Vehicles, California Highway Patrol