JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
"In the past five years, the Air Force has had two bicycle-related fatalities and 39 other bicycle mishaps," Tech. Sgt. Travis Yates, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph NCO in charge of ground safety, said. But when these statistics are taken into account with a report released by the San Antonio-Bexar County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Randolph bicycle riders must prepare against multiple variables that can cause accidents.
The regional safety report, compiled in 2010, stated that out of 148 bicycle crashes with injuries averaged in the city per year for three recorded years, 75 percent of the injured riders did not wear helmets. However, 54 percent of total riders said they always wear a helmet during their rides, while another 9 percent said they wear helmets very often, the report read.
While most people claim they wear the proper safety attire, the majority of them getting into accidents do not.
Prepping for a ride with the correct gear can save riders from serious injury.
"Wear an approved helmet," Yates said, which should fit snugly and not rock side to side on the head.
Wearing the correct gear is paramount to protecting the body, but the report revealed bicycle safety is not necessarily dependent on someone wearing the right equipment; in fact, another variable - something more telling - could be the source of potential bike accidents.
"Destination districts were identified around major regional destinations that attract movement," the report said.
There are different skill levels of bicyclists, but many of them in the city are riding in areas where there is a lot of vehicle traffic - not in isolated areas - during the late afternoon and early evening, when traffic volume is at its peak, the report found.
Riders must do everything they can to become aware of their surroundings - the roads and the vehicles on them - to avoid getting struck or striking something. A few pertinent base traffic codes for bicycles state that riders must ride as near to the right side of the roadway as possible; bicycles must not be ridden more than two (side by side) on a roadway; bicycles must obey all traffic-control devices; and riders must yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Bicycles are also not to be ridden on the roadways of Harmon Drive or Washington Circle per base traffic codes.
There are resources available online, such as http://bicyclesafe.com/, that demonstrate to bicyclists a number of scenarios they are likely to experience on off-base roadways, and how to best avoid getting struck by vehicles.
Tony Lightner, JBSA-Randolph occupational safety and health specialist, said many Randolph roadways are narrow and congested with parked vehicles and moving traffic, but are no more dangerous to bicyclists than other roadways found in the city.
Riders must prepare for safe riding wherever they cycle, Lightner said.
There has only been one recent bicycle-related injury on Randolph which happened during the last weekend of April, where the rider's tire got caught into a security barrier.
Second Lt. Shawn Banion, 359th Medical Group medical information systems flash readiness flight commander, was riding on the roadway across from the softball fields near the East Gate when he approached a security barrier.
"I was going about 14 miles per hour," he said. "It was just one of those instances where my tire hit the slit perfectly and got stuck."
Banion was propelled from his bicycle and hit the ground, which required him to get stitches on his arm.
Banion was not seriously hurt, but he recommended all to avoid riding over barriers and to slow down when approaching anything that can compromise the tires.
George Heagerty, USA Cycling regional coordinator, hosts a bicycle ride approximately 11:30 a.m-12:30 p.m. every Thursday at the Rambler Fitness Center, Bldg. 999, open to anyone with base access.
One of the points of bicycling he teaches his group is that there is a certain level of security in numbers; the more people one has riding with him, the safer he may be and feel.
"Part of riding with a group is being attentive to riders next to you and watching their every move," Heagerty said.
This level of attentiveness translates into a rider's surroundings, which ultimately can help someone become a more aware, safety-conscious bicyclist, he said.
Riders wearing reflective or high-visibility outer garments will also help motorists see them, especially during nighttime.
"Watch out for other motorists and ride defensively," Yates said. "Most everything else on the road is bigger than you and they will win."