Month: June 2024

Posted in GM Milford Dream Ride

Bike Safety for Seniors

A recent series of bicycle accidents has made me realize I am not 25 anymore; slower reflexes, less agility, and poor balance. Though I spent two summers in Europe bike touring (3700 miles each), I have fallen off my Trek 720 touring bike multiple times in the last month. After the first incident, I spent several hours in the Beaumont Emergency Room while they checked thoroughly for cracked ribs, a bruised hip and of course a skinned knee.

When I was walking the bike home (the chain came off) I fell again while pushing the “walk” button at Golfview and Coolidge. My bike and I landed in the crosswalk. Several people stopped to see if I was OK. Thanks to all who helped me including a doctor who checked me out and recommended an Emergency Room visit. One neighbor offered to take my bike home and a few others waited until the ambulance arrived. Many thanks to all the kind and generous people who helped me.

I use the old-fashioned toe clips and straps after I fell over at a stoplight at Long Lake & Squirrel Roads a few years ago with the newfangled clipless pedals. The bike fell over because I had stopped quicker than planned from the uphill grade. So hello toe clips! The proper way to get in them is to straddle the bike after lifting the right leg over the top tube, put the left foot into the toe clip and tighten the strap. Backpedal until the left foot is positioned for a downstroke, then after you get rolling, flip the right pedal right side up with your shoe. Reach down and tighten the toe strap (optional) if you have a long ways to go.

Lessons Learned

Are you training for a race (no), so what’s the hurry? You’re on retirement time.

Take your time and use crosswalks

Irreversible corrective action

Know before you go. I would have learned that the Clinton River Trail is mostly unpaved and brought my mountain bike instead. I should have gone home and swapped bikes!

Having surer footing on wider tires of the mountain bike would have prevented three of the falls Saturday, including the most spectacular: a soft landing on my right side at the bottom of a ravine. Thankfully I landed on bushes instead of hitting a tree. In a total of five falls, three times my helmet saved me from a concussion or worse. Thanks to another biker on the trail who stopped and my riding partner, my bike and I were hauled up the steep hill.

Replace the helmet (done) since there are now three cracks in the Styrofoam.

Use the crosswalk across Big Beaver Road (heavy traffic moving at 50 mph most of the time). Get off the bike and walk it the two blocks over from my usual riding route. Too hard to navigate slow turns entering sidewalks. Unnecessary risk of a fall.

Consider removing the toe clips from the mountain bike and use it exclusively for outdoor riding. For sure no more Trek on gravel roads!

Bubble wrapping my body might help protect from skinned knees and bruises but wouldn’t be comfortable. Maybe some Gore-Tex fabric insulated riding pants? Probably too small a market for those.


It’s possible to bicycle into your 60s, 70s and even 80s. As I often do on vacation, I ask people questions, like “do you like your job?”

I asked the camp store owner near Wilderness State Park south of the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper Peninsula, “Who were your most interesting customers?” “Well, one August day, two white – haired couples in their 80s took off their bicycle helmets. I asked them where they were headed; one replied, ‘Grand Rapids.’ I said ‘that’s pretty impressive. Where did you start?’


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