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Insight from WFPD: Tips for keeping you and your bike safe

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Spring time and nice weather brings out many types of outdoor activities, one of them being bicycling.

Over the years, changes in our city have brought changes in the type of bike traffic we see every day. On any given day we see young people on tricycles and Big Wheels up to adults on very expensive bicycles. The state of North Dakota and the cities of West Fargo and Fargo have very clear regulations covering the operation on public property, streets, sidewalks and bike paths.

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Many times these regulations aren't brought up unless an unfortunate event takes place, violations and injuries are most common. Education programs are usually only offered to young people or people already very active in our biking community, which is really quite large in the metro area.

Here are some basic tips I give every rider:

Make sure your bike is safe to ride, brakes working; tires are in good condition and full of air;

Your clothing should be fitted so it does not become tangled in your bike or catch on anything, bike helmets are recommended for everyone (see helmet tips below);

Know your routes of travel, if you are 12 and under it's sidewalks and bike paths; for adults it's the right hand side of the street and/or bike paths if available;

Persons under 12 should not ride alone unsupervised on public property;

Never ride after dark without a headlight and taillight that can be seen less than 500 feet away. Children under 12 should not ride after dark alone;

Bike licenses are required in West Fargo and can be purchased for $1 at the police department, it's important that you take your bike along when you get your license. The make, model, color and serial number will be recorded along with your name, address, and phone number. For an appointment call 701-433-5500.  

For other information about bicycle laws and other traffic related information check out the websites at www.westfargopolice and www.fmsafekids.com.

It's also very important to lock up your bikes whenever possible, the police department finds about 200 bikes each year that are never returned to owners. If your bike is stolen, the bike license information will help to identify your bike so it can be returned to you.

All injury accidents on public property, sidewalks, streets and alleys should be reported to your local police.

As for additional helmet information, the most important thing about a helmet is the way that it fits. Without a proper fit, a helmet is next to useless, for one because if it's not comfortable you won't want to put it on, and two, because if a helmet moves out of position upon impact it won't protect your head.

Getting the proper fit is simple assuming that you get a chance to try on the helmet. When you put it on it should be flush against your head on all sides so as to not move more than an inch in any direction when you push or pull on it. Under no circumstances should the helmet be able to be pulled off. A quick test is to buckle the straps, and pull from back to front from the rear lip of the helmet. If it comes off, wrong size. If it moves forward into your eyes, shorten the straps and try again until you get the right fit. Do the same pushing to the rear. If your forehead shows, shorten the straps.

You want the helmet to cover as much of the surface area on your head and be as low as one inch above the eyes in the front. Since it's not possible to virtually try on helmets, opt for those with adjustable padding so that you can get the most customized fit. It goes without saying that everyone's heads are different, so there is no sizing standard.

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