The odds of getting into an accident on the bike are, unfortunately, pretty high. Whether you’re on a group ride or involved in a bike-car collision, do these seven things to be safe and make smart, rational decisions.
1. GET OUT OF THE ROAD
Emotions, injury and a wrecked bike are just a few things that can get in the way of your otherwise sound decision making. If you’re still conscious and able to move, it’s best to get off the roadway as soon as possible. Doing so helps avoid further injury from oncoming traffic who may not see you lying on the ground.
When the injuries are too severe for you to bear weight, call for an ambulance right away.
2. HAVE A SEAT AND ASSESS YOUR INJURIES
Following a crash, it’s common to get a big shot of adrenaline. While your injuries might seem mild following an accident, they could be much worse than you realize. To be safe, have a seat whether you feel hurt or not and check yourself for injuries. If anything seems serious, don’t hesitate to call for medical attention immediately.
Other than broken bones, areas of pain and bleeding, make sure you can bear weight and walk normally. You can assess your upper body by lifting your arms above your head. Always check your helmet for cracks. If it is cracked always assume you have a concussion.
3. CALL FOR HELP
No matter what’s happened, you should always call someone after a crash. If there are no serious injuries apparent, give a family member or a friend a call and see if they can pick you up. It will be tough to know the extent of your injuries until you’ve been evaluated, and the same can be said of your bike. Having someone else around who’s thinking clearly can help you decide next steps.
For bike-car accidents, call the police, too. They’ll be able to file an accident report, document each party’s involvement in the incident and determine who was at fault, which can help with insurance claims.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s probably not a good idea to get back on your bike right away and keep riding.
4. GET YOU AND YOUR BIKE CHECKED OUT BY A PROFESSIONAL
For moderate-to-severe crashes, you should head to your doctor to get checked out. X-rays and a thorough evaluation should be done to make sure there aren’t any injuries more severe than they might appear.
The same can be said for your bike. One of the reasons getting back on the bike isn’t recommended is because the potential for catastrophic damage to the frame — especially if it’s carbon fiber. Any time your bike hits the ground take it to a bike shop to have it looked over by a professional. Hairline cracks in the frame or any other damage that could compromise the structural integrity of the bike are your primary areas of concern. Don’t forget the wheels, though, as they are commonly damaged during most incidents — even if it’s just a spoke.
5. DOCUMENT THE EVENT
Accidents on the trail or during a group ride might not need the attention of the police, but if you’ve been involved in a bike-car crash you’ll want documentation of the accident. While an accident report from the authorities is definitely recommended, it’s also a good idea to obtain contact information from the driver and any bystanders who may have witnessed the event.
Information you might need later on for insurance claims includes:
- Name, address, driver’s license number and phone number of the driver.
- The license plate of the vehicle.
- Insurance information.
- Names and phone numbers of any witnesses.
It’s also a good idea to take photos of your injuries and any damage that may have occurred to your bike for evidence.
READ MORE > DRAFTING BASICS | CYCLING 101
6. CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
While this won’t be needed if you take a spill on your own, sometimes bike-car collisions get messy. If you are unsure what steps you need to take or are having problems getting reimbursed for your medical bills and damages to your bike, a lawyer who specializes in bike-car related accidents can help you deal with the insurance companies and ensure you get what you’re entitled.
7. STAY AWAY FROM YOUR BIKE AS NECESSARY
Unless you’re a professional cyclist, there’s no rush to get back on the bike. Let your road rash and other injuries heal fully before you decide to go out on the bike again. If you’ve had a concussion, make sure you go through a concussion protocol with your doctor before resuming activities.
Keep in mind that your mental state should also be considered. Hitting the ground is a traumatic event, and facing the fear of it happening again once you’re out on the road won’t be easy. Make sure you’ve got the right frame of mind and are looking forward to riding again before you get back in the saddle.