The Division of Consumer Protection at the New York Department of State is issuing a consumer alert to remind New Yorkers of all ages about the critical importance of wearing helmets while biking. As May is National Bike Safety Month and the weather gets warmer, it is essential to prioritize safety by wearing helmets, which significantly reduce the risk of severe head injuries and saves lives.
New York Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez emphasized that helmets are not just for children; they are essential safety equipment that can save lives for bikers of all ages. He urged all riders across the state to put on their helmets and proper safety gear before embarking on biking adventures in the beautiful bike trails, parks, or streets of New York.
According to preliminary data from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, in 2021, there were 1,455 reported bicycle crashes statewide where a helmet was used. Out of those, seven collisions resulted in fatalities, and 121 crashes caused severe injuries. In contrast, there were 3,946 reported bicycle crashes statewide where a helmet was not used, with 32 resulting in fatalities and 378 causing serious injuries.
Mark J.F. Schroeder, DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, highlighted the need for increased awareness as more New Yorkers take up biking for recreation and exercise during the spring and summer seasons. He stressed the importance of motorists being attentive to those on two wheels and everyone looking out for each other to ensure the safety of New York’s roadways.
Erik Kulleseid, State Parks Commissioner, emphasized the significance of enjoying biking as a recreational activity while ensuring safety. Whether exploring state parks or the extensive network of scenic trails in New York, it is crucial to stay alert and wear a helmet.
Ross D. Levi, Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism, encouraged cyclists to enjoy the diverse biking opportunities in New York while prioritizing safety during their state getaways.
Here are some key guidelines for safely choosing and wearing helmets:
- Match the helmet to the activity: Different activities can result in varying impacts to the head. Ensure you use a helmet suitable for the specific activity to provide better protection in case of an accident.
- Ensure a proper fit: Bike helmets should fit snugly but comfortably on the rider’s head. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides a guide on correctly fitting bicycle helmets, including information on certifications, laws, and more.
- Buckle up: A helmet is effective only when worn correctly throughout the activity. Make sure your helmet has a chin strap and a buckle that lays flat and stays fastened. Wear the helmet level on your forehead, not tilted back.
- Adhere to regulations: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) oversees helmets for various activities, including biking. Look for helmets that conform to the appropriate standards and certifications. Avoid adding any stickers, coverings, or attachments not included with the original helmet, as they can impact its performance.
- Replace after a crash or injury: Once a helmet has protected you from a fall, it should no longer be used. Any damage to the helmet can reduce its effectiveness, so replace it before your next ride.
- Replace when needed: Follow the manufacturer’s guidance on when to replace your helmet. If no specific instructions are provided, helmets should generally be replaced within 5-10 years of purchase, considering proper care and storage. Cracks in the shell, worn foam lining, or other signs of wear and imperfections that occur during regular use should be taken into account when deciding to replace the helmet.
Furthermore, it is essential to ride responsibly and adhere to the same rules and responsibilities as motorists. Bicyclists should ride with the flow of traffic, while walkers should go against traffic. Whenever possible, choose safe environments such as designated paths, parks, or trails to ride in, away from heavy traffic.
To explore New York’s incredible bicycle trails, you can find detailed information on the New York State Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Program Website. They provide a gateway for discovering a wide variety of cycling opportunities and additional bike safety resources.
For comprehensive information on trails in State Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, Unique Areas, and Forest Preserve land in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation website.
The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is dedicated to providing resources, educational materials, and voluntary mediation services to consumers, ensuring product safety. For consumer assistance, reach out to the Consumer Assistance. Consumer complaints can be filed anytime at www.dos.ny.gov/consumer-protection.
Remember, wearing a helmet is a crucial step in ensuring your safety while biking. By following these guidelines and staying informed, you can enjoy the beauty of New York’s biking opportunities with confidence and peace of mind.
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