Emory Report
April 3, 2006
Volume 58, Number 25


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April 3, 2006
Tour de Georgia rides into town, April 18-23

Michael johns is executive vice president for health affairs

The saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” But, since the month of April in Georgia averages next to last in rainfall, I’m inclined to believe that it is now our “April Cyclers”—those in the Tour de Georgia—who bring forth the bloom of spring in Georgia.

Emory Healthcare is proud once again to be a sponsor of the 2006 Ford Tour de Georgia, fast becoming a premier sporting event. This month’s fourth annual race, to be held April 18–23, will crisscross much of our state as well as points in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama. It promises to bring a new blossoming of interest in cycling, both as a sport and as a terrific form of exercise and leisure-time activity.

The Ford Tour de Georgia benefits the Georgia Cancer Coalition, an organization dedicated to battling a disease that is the cause of almost a quarter of all deaths in Georgia and the second-leading cause of death in the state. Unless current trends are reversed, chances are that one in two men and one in three women in Georgia will develop cancer sometime during their lifetime.

The Georgia Cancer Coalition supports and leverages resources, organizations and individuals throughout the state, including many within Emory Healthcare. By working together, we are making progress to control—and, eventually, to cure and even prevent—this great scourge on our state and our nation.

Another reason we are so pleased to help sponsor this race is that it enables us to shine a spotlight on the health benefits and fun of bicycling—and also on important measures adults, children and families can take to maximize their safety while cycling.

According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, approximately 70 percent of children age 5–14 are bicycle riders, as are an increasing number of adults. But when ridden improperly, without sufficient training or protective gear, bicycles can be the source of many preventable injuries.

Nationwide each year, bicycle accidents result in a half-million hospital visits and more than 700 deaths that are mostly the result of head injuries. That’s why bicycle safety starts with wearing a helmet: Georgia law requires anyone age 16 or younger to wear a helmet when riding a bike on public roads, sidewalks or bike paths. But everyone should wear a helmet when cycling.

All of the world-class cyclists in the Ford Tour de Georgia, you will notice, will wear a helmet.
A few other safety tips:

Maintain your bicycle in good working order. Before riding, always check essentials like breaks and tires.

Wear visible clothing; light, bright colors make you easier to see. If you must bike at night (no kids!) you must have a headlight, a flashing taillight and reflectors.

Take advantage of special routes for cyclists. Whenever possible, use marked bike lanes and off-road bike paths.

Obey the rules of the road. Bicyclists must follow the same laws as motorists. Stop at red lights and stop signs. Use appropriate hand signals. Stop and look before entering a roadway.

Use care on walkways. Always watch for pedestrians. If coming up from behind a walker, announce yourself in plenty of time: “Coming up on your left/right!”

Bicycling is terrific fun and exercise for the whole family.

A race like the Ford Tour de Georgia is not only exciting to participate in, but also to volunteer for and watch. Last year, more than 4,000 people volunteered to help, and some 800,000 more lined the routes to watch and cheer on the competitors.

For more information on how to join the fun, visit www.tourdegeorgia.com. I think you will agree that, as a rite of spring, April cyclers are far preferable to April showers!