What To Do If Involved In A Cycling Accident

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Fortunately I’ve only been hit by a car once and miraculously came out with minor injuries.  I’m sure many of you have experienced the same and I know a few of you haven’t come away so lucky.  It’s the most frightening thing a cyclists can experience  (a magpie strike is a close second).

The other common accident that can occur while out on the road is having another cyclist bring you down (I’m not talking about racing here).  This happened to me a couple weeks ago.  It was a sunny weekend morning and another rider ran straight into the back of me while I was waiting for a red light to change.  It wasn’t very hard and only knocked me over, but it damaged my bike more than getting hit by that car did.  My integrated seatpost was snapped off, my saddle rails were bent (which I can’t get straight), and a few spokes were broken.  What a disaster for such a small prang.

I wasn’t very well prepared for neither of my accidents as it turned out.  Who ever thinks of these things in advance?

What often happens is the offending driver or rider acts very apologetic and emotions run high (either anger or remorse).  Neither of you planned for this to happen and if there are no serious injuries you want to get out of there as soon as possible.  Contact details are exchanged and you deal with the damage costs and whatever else later on.

Unfortunately what also happens sometimes is the driver or rider at fault will change their story after the fact.  This is usually because he’s had time to rationalize and reflect on the incident (morphing it into your fault) or he has had a chat with his friends or even lawyer.  All of a sudden he’s not so apologetic and not taking any responsibility for damages or injuries incurred.

Here are a few things to think keep in mind if something like this happens to you:

  • Get off the road and deal with the incident away from moving traffic.
  • If there’s any possible chance of injury you should call an ambulance.  If you live in Victoria, TAC covers this cost if the accident happened on a public road.  I’m not sure about other states and if you live in another country you definitely should look into who pays for this.
  • Look for witnesses to confirm the incident details.  Don’t forget to get the witness contact details as well. These may come in useful later if the driver’s or rider’s story changes.
  • Get the other party’s contact details and driver’s license number.  Don’t trust him to give you the correct phone number. Have him phone you on the spot so you have his number in your phone records.   Perhaps don’t give him your details as he may screen your subsequent calls afterwards (forget I said that dumb suggestion).
  • Take a look around and see if there is anything significant with the accident scene that you can take a photo of that may be of use later.   Maybe even take a  photo of the other driver/rider or his rego number. We all have camera phones these days so this is a viable option if applicable.
  • The responsible thing for me to add that you should get checked out by a doctor even if you think the accident was minor.  Many times the adrenaline is pumping and you feel fine after a crash, but that’s your natural survival mechanisms kicking in.  No sense taking any chances.

In both my incidents I was very lucky that the guys who hit me were willing to pay for the damages.  They did the right thing and I had no problems.

This brings up a topic on cycling etiquette. I think most of us assume it is common sense that if a rider crashes another, the rider who is clearly at fault takes responsibility for the damages.  Unfortunately the person at fault doesn’t always see it this way and is not so cooperative after he gets away from the scene. This is why it might be a good idea to have insurance. It’s rarely worth your time and money to go after this guy in court.

Months back I had an article written on what to do if you come up on an injured cyclist.  This may be a good place to throw in this reminder.

I’m currently researching different bike insurance options for situations like this and that should be done relatively soon.  I’ve had lots of questions from readers about this and I still have many of my own!

Ride safe.

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