Ride RightJoseph Kane's Famous First Facts, a wonderfully informative and interesting resource, notes that it was on this day in 1896 that the first reported automobile accident causing injury in the United States occurred. This first injury accident was an automobile-bicycle collision resulting in a fractured leg, and represents a cautionary event that's still relevant 114 years later.
Keeping cyclists safe is everybody's responsibility. Even way back then, the law relied on cyclists to be visible in traffic and to pedestrians, and to outfit their bikes appropriately for the conditions. According to an article in an 1899 edition of the New York Times, that city's own squad of bicycle policemen had made 65 arrests by 10pm on June 4th, most of which were for cyclists riding without a light and bell.
To help cyclists of all ages try to avoid the various road and traffic hazards, the AADL offers many helpful resources.
Try this search to get you started on bike safety materials for young and beginning riders. There is also a Safety Town run jointly by the Ann Arbor Police Department and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Community Education & Recreation Department. Safety Town was founded in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio in 1937 by a traffic commissioner and a kindergarten teacher, and "includes pedestrian safety, bike safety, stranger safety, drug awareness, fire safety, school bus safety, outdoor safety and seat belt safety." I remember having an absolute blast riding my tricycle around the miniature town (with Mansfield landmark buildings and working stop light!), obeying all the rules of the road I'd just learned. If the program is anything like it was back then, I can strongly recommend it for any young person.
Even we old(er) cyclists need to keep reminding ourselves how to stay safe. Here are a few books that might help us stay upright and moving forward. Parts of David Hough's Proficient Motorcycling are actually very relevant to bicyclists (and anyone in traffic). I haven't read anything anywhere that's had a better effect on my understanding of visibility, sight lines, and awareness.
For a little perspective, Kane reports that almost exactly three years after that first accident, a bicycle officer made the first ever arrest of a driver for speeding. The driver was traveling at the "breakneck speed" of 12mph on NYC's Lexington Ave.
Oh, and did I mention that speedster back in 1899 was an electric car?