Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Summer bike riding; how to be wheelie careful.

I can still remember my first bicycle; it was a hand-me-down from my older brother. It had a blue frame, white handlebar grips and a multi-color banana seat. It didn’t matter to me that it was an older used bicycle, all I cared about was that it was all mine.

A bicycle is the first form of transportation most of us use, but typically once the training wheels are gone so is the education. However, each year 100 children die and 245,000 are injured as a result of a bicycle-related accident.

Not all of these accidents are caused by lack of skill or education of the rider; often a poorly maintained bicycle is to blame. The ABC quick check (detailed below) takes less than five minutes and can help to prevent injuries and inconveniences (like a broken chain far from home).

A is for Air: Check the air pressure in your tires. Similar to a car, the recommended air pressure (or PSI) is written on the sidewall of your tire. Use a pressure gauge to reduce the risk of injuries caused by over or under inflation.

B is for Brakes: Pay attention to the wear on your brake pads. Most brake pads have grooves cut in them to help clear debris. When any part of those grooves disappear it’s time for new pads. Also, hold down your brake lever and check to see that your brake pads only make contact with the rim and not the rubber of the tire.

C is for Chain and Cranks: Be sure your chain is rust and gunk free. Pull on your cranks (what attaches your pedal to your bike) to see that they are not loose.

Quick Release: Many bikes have quick release tires and seats. Make sure your quick releases are tightened and secured in a way that won’t catch clothing on the release. If your bicycle does not have quick releases, it is still a good idea to check that your tires, seat, and handlebars are all properly tightened and secured.

CheckTake a slow, short ride to check that your bike is working properly.

After your bike has been checked, looking at your helmet should be your next step. Wearing a properly fitted helmet is crucial to bike safety. Be sure to check your helmet before each ride for cracks or dents that may make it less effective in the event of a crash.

Once you are cruising through the neighborhood the keys to safe cycling are visibility and predictability. In most riding situations you’ll need to know how to ride safely around cars, other cyclists, and pedestrians. The best way you can stay safe around such a wide variety of road users is to be seen and predictable with your actions.

  • Ride where people can see you. Many children and new cyclists tend to ride only on the sidewalk. While it can be safer to travel on the sidewalk in busy areas, it is actually safer to travel in the same direction as traffic on the road.
  • Wear bright clothing. It is important to be as visible as possible. Wear colors like yellow, orange, and red to increase your visibility. Keep a yellow reflective vest handy in case you are wearing darker clothing or are riding at night.
  • Use a front white light, rear red light and reflectors at dusk and in bad weather. Just like a car has front headlights and rear red running lights, a bicycle should too. Many cyclists turn on their lights no matter what time of day or weather conditions to increase visibility.
  • Make eye contact. Eye contact can communicate our intentions. When at a four-way stop, take a moment to make eye contact with other drivers before proceeding through the intersection. This ensures that other drivers see you and do not try to use the intersection at the same time.
Bicycle hand signals
  • Scan, signal, scan before you turn. Scanning the area around you ensures the lane is free and also alerts motorists in the lane that you are about to change your position. You should then signal your turn, and then scan again before turning. 
  • Signal your turns. After you scan to check if the lane you want to use is free, you must signal your intentions. Signaling on a bicycle is just like signaling a turn in a motor vehicle. You should signal for 4-6 second before returning your hand to the handlebars.

Can’t get enough bike safety?  Join us for the Bike Block Party on May 18, 2019 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Plattsburgh Farmer’s Market. The first 125 participants will receive free safety gear and a new, properly fitted helmet!

Be Seen, Be Predictable, Stay Safe

Kim Cummins
Bike Block Party Planning Committee

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Surfing Challenge

How often do you pick up your cellphone or other electronic device to look up just one thing and before you know it you are surfing the internet browsing through YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Twitter and Netflix? Have you ever surfed through so much information that you were too tired to finish a homework assignment, forgot about the boiling water on the stove or lost track of time and were late for a commitment? I know it has happened to me probably more times than I would like to admit and it has even resulted in one less pan in my kitchen!

I challenge you to click on the links below and surf some information that may give you the knowledge and the power to make a difference in the life of a friend, a family member or even yourself. If you’re like me you may enjoy true stories, so let’s start with Ashley’s Journey. Ashley started tanning as a teenager to get a “base tan” for her prom and before vacations and she didn’t take the risks of tanning seriously. Like most of us she thought she was invincible. Do you know someone that denies the risks of tanning? Is that someone you? 

Skin cancer, specifically melanoma, has become a public health concern for federal, state and local
1 of the 15 sunscreen dispensers available in Clinton County
agencies due to the
increasing number of cases. In fact, on August 16, 2018 legislation was signed into law prohibiting individuals younger than 18 years of age from using indoor tanning facilities in New York State.  So what are we doing locally to protect our residents? In 2016 the Clinton County Sun Safety Initiative was established and sunscreen dispenser sites were setup at 15 locations within Clinton County. These dispensers allow residents to lather up with sunscreen while out and about. The Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) also permits and inspects the 11 tanning facilities in Clinton County. 

During a tanning facility inspection Public Health Sanitarians, like me, inspect for:

  • Public health hazards

  • Records and signs

  • Equipment operation and maintenance

  • Protective eye wear

  • Sanitation

To learn more about tanning and sun safety click here. Thanks for surfing with me and remember, tanned skin is not healthy skin. 

Karen Noonan
Public Health Sanitarian
Environmental Health and Safety Division