The article on page A10 in June 8 paper focuses on injury accidents, including those involving motor vehicles and bicycles. In articles such as this one, the emphasis is always placed on the wearing of helmets to prevent or minimize injuries when accidents occur. There is another piece of safety equipment that is even more important in avoiding accidents entirely.
I am a 68-year-old woman who has only begun bike riding within the last five years or so. My most important piece of safety equipment is a rear-view mirror. You can get a mirror that will mount on either your handlebar or on your helmet and they are available locally at Cycle Alaska, Play-It-Again Sports and Fred Meyer. When buying a mirror, it is very important to get one with glass and not reflecting metal since the metal mirror can distort distance and make vehicles virtually disappear when they are closest and in the middle of the frame. I have a helmet-mounted, small round mirror and have become so dependent on it that the few times I have begun to ride off without my helmet, I quickly realized my mistake and returned for it. While these mirrors are small, they give a large view by moving the head only slightly. It is so easy to use that I am just as aware of vehicles behind me as those in front, and that is the key to avoiding accidents.
I would encourage all parents to make sure their kids have a rear-view mirror. Particularly with novice riders (and I am still a novice), turning to look behind when making a turn or changing lanes can throw one off-balance. Using a rear-view mirror eliminates the need to turn your head and take your eyes off the road. Once you get used to having a mirror, you won't want to ride without one. A helmet is great to minimize injury but isn't it better to avoid an accident in the first place?