Bicycle Safety

  • Published
  • By Janet Grund
  • 97th Medical Group
As the school year ends and kids become more anxious to get outside, the number of individuals riding bicycles increases. It is important for cyclists to understand the rules of the road and just as important for motorists to be more aware of bicycles on the roadways.

According to the Emergency Medical Services Authority, 900 people die from injuries sustained in bicycle accidents and another 567,000 end up in hospital emergency rooms each year, with 350,000 of those being children under the age of 15. Awareness of national and local regulations for riding a bicycle will help decrease the risk of injury for you and your family.

The city of Altus traffic laws only recommend that children under 14 years of age wear a safety helmet when riding a bicycle.

There are more specific laws for Altus AFB. AFI 91-207 states bicyclists must ride with the traffic flow, not against it, and they should wear reflective outer garments when riding during periods of reduced visibility. Additionally, bicycle headlamps, rear lights, and/or rear reflectors must meet state/local requirements during times of reduced visibility. 

The Altus AFB Security Forces Squadron also enforces helmet use at all times when riding a bicycle on base and strongly encourages wearing contrasting clothing (i.e. bright colors) during daylight hours. Cyclists should use signals as often as necessary, when switching lanes, turning, or merging with traffic to decrease the risk of accidents and injury.

If you need to move out of the lane, make sure to use your hand signals and move out near the center line. Hand signals are an excellent way for bicycles to convey their intention to motorists. Cyclists should use their left hand for signaling, where the arm straight out means "left turn", left arm at 90o with hand facing upward means "right turn", and left arm at 90o with hand facing downward means "stop". If a lane is too narrow for both a bicycle and a car, you can "take the lane" by riding far enough out in the lane to keep motorists from passing you until the adjacent lane is free of oncoming traffic.

Head injuries are the most common cause of death while riding a bicycle. Wearing a helmet is one of the best recommendations for remaining safe while riding. Studies have shown wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a bicycle-related head injury by approximately 80 percent. When purchasing a helmet for yourself or child, make sure to choose a helmet that fits properly to maximize protection. 

If you would like more information concerning bicycle safety, please visit the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration's website at You can also visit, a website designed to keep your kids safe from injuries, or you can contact the Altus AFB Health and Wellness Center at 481- 5013.