Hints & Tips

What to do if You’re Involved in a Collision When Cycling

We don't like to think about it, but it's good to have a plan of action..

We don’t like to dwell on accidents, but unfortunately though they’re rarer than some mainstream media would have you believe, they do happen. We hope every mile you ride will be enjoyed in absolute safety, but it’s best to be prepared in case you are involved in a collision in the future.  

It is amazing how clear headed you can be after an accident, provided you’ve not been injured enough to lose consciousness. When I was unfortunate enough to be hit side on by a car turning across my path, it was the driver who was most emotionally affected at the time, opting to put on quite a show of remorse with tears and promises to pay for all damage personally. A week or so on she was more keen to have her insurance company deal with the consequences.

Tips for Cycling in Traffic

Thankfully, my bike was duly repaired as I had all the details required to take the relevant action. This situation isn’t uncommon – the third party involved often reacts with an immediate apology, only to later question fault when it comes to making a financial sacrifice.

Here’s a look at some of the actions you should take following an accident. Of course, if you’re badly injured, the number one concern is your health, but an ambulance will be called and the police should be able to do most of this ground work for you.

Straight after the accident

Be careful before moving. Adrenaline will be coursing through your system and you may not be fully aware of any damage done. If you feel you may have hit your head or damaged your neck or back, ask someone to call an ambulance – they might have done so already, in which case just sit tight.

How to: Essential First Aid for Cyclists 

If you’re ok to move, then move yourself off the road. Take a photo of the scene – the vehicle if there was one involved, your bike, and any relevant road furniture before moving your bike or any other items.

An accident between a cyclist and a driver, or indeed a cyclist and a pedestrian, is classed as a Road Traffic Accident. It’s best to deal with police statements required at the time rather than try to make a statement later when all the evidence has been cleared away and everyone has had time to practice their party line. Call the police so you can give a statement there and then. Ask two or three people at the scene to stay to give a statement, or get their contact details so they can be consulted at a later date.

Try to keep emotion out of the conversation if you speak to the other person involved. You need their full name, address, phone number, email address, driver’s license number and registration as well as the name of their insurer if they were driving. If they were at fault they might seem to be accept blame at the time, but you don’t know how they’ll react once they’ve spoken to their own friends or family or had time to appreciate the financial cost of replacing a nice bike. It’s best just to take the basic details and deal with authorities.

Hours after the accident

Take photos of the bike and your injuries on the same day as the event, ideally at the scene, if you do so you can use these as evidence. The date on your phone or camera will prove you’ve not tampered after the event.

If you’re well enough to get home right away, ask someone to pick you up – don’t try to ride, you don’t know if your bike has any hidden damage or if you have any injuries that could be made worse by riding.

The day after the accident

As soon as possible, ideally the day after the event, go to see a physiotherapist or injury specialist. It is amazing how injuries you didn’t realise you’d picked up can come back to bite you. For example, last time I came off my bike my osteopath conformed the strange pains in my legs were actually caused by a rotated pelvis, something I’d never had discovered on my own – meaning my own treatment of icing my legs was completely ineffective, whilst his work on the pelvis meant the pain was almost gone in 24 hours. If it looks like you’ll need further treatment, get a quote for this to add to your insurance claim.

Book your bike in for a check-up at your local bike shop, tell them it’s been involved in an accident and ask for a full report of the work required and the cost of any replacement parts. The insurance company might want to offer you the market value of your bike – bearing in mind how long you’ve had it, so find out how much this is.

You’re usually best fighting for replacement parts as the value of the bike will have dropped over the years if you’ve had it a while, but of course the bike you get with the replacement cash won’t perform as well if you’ve put effort into maintaining good components of a higher spec.

Fighting the compensation battle and moving on

Get in contact with the insurance company if there was a driver involved, or the police if they’re dealing with the situation. Quote the figure you’ve been given for the damage to the bike, and any personal injury you have.

Think about getting legal support via British Cycling. The organisation don’t just regulate the sport and support our athletes, they’re also there to help you out with insurance claims. It’s a bit too late if you’re not a member and are looking to claim now, but it is well worth investing in membership to protect you in the future. You can get their legal backing if you’re a ‘Ride’, ‘Race’ Gold or Silver member – find out more here.

You might find you feel a bit wobbly on your first ride after the accident. This is normal, but you don’t want one accident to put you off enjoying the activity that you love. Ride somewhere quiet and traffic free on your first couple of rides, and go with a friend – gradually building up to your previous levels of confidence.

We hope you won’t need these tips any time soon, but it’s always good to be prepared. To help you limit the chances of an accident, check out these these seven skills all commuter cyclists need to be sure they’ve mastered before getting out on the roads. 

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