You’ve Been in a Crash with a Motorist: What Now?
We all know that as cyclists we are vulnerable to collisions on the road with trucks and cars, and road hazards. Even the best of cyclists, following all the best practices, sooner or later find themselves confronted with an unfortunate crash.
If you have been in a bicycle crash with a driver through no fault of your own, you may now be faced with problems you didn’t imagine, like:
- Who is going to pay for the damage to your bike?
- Where do you go to get good medical care?
- Who are some of the best surgeons or therapists for your kind of injury?
- How are you going to pay your medical bills?
- Is there insurance available to pay for the medical care, property damage, time out of work, and the pain and suffering of an unnecessary injury?
- What do you do if the driver’s insurance company is calling and wants medical releases and records from every doctor you have ever treated with in the past 10 years?
- Are you going to have to go to court to get compensation?
- After all those years of laughing at lawyer jokes, how are you going to find a GOOD attorney to help you?
I can answer some of these tough questions.
Call me for a free consultation: 303-894-8900
As an experienced cyclist, by thinking ahead, thinking quickly and keeping my bike steady, I’ve outsprinted a German shepherd, picked up a squirrel on a bike path with my cycling shoe (no one got hurt), avoided going down on the bad pavement around Lake Garda in Italy, and avoided a lot of other potential crashes.
Here are my top tips for keeping the rubber side down and getting home in one piece:
- Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated like drivers of vehicles. Cyclists who are most likely to be obeying traffic laws have an accident rate only one-fifth of that of those who ride fearfully and disobey the traffic laws to avoid the accidents they fear. The fear that controls the fearful cyclist is being hit from the rear, which makes up only 0.3% of accidents to cyclists. Trying to avoid this 0.3% makes them worse risks for all other types of accidents.
- Experience and competence. Cycling skill is the most important ingredient in reducing cycling-accidents.
- Route Selection: Think ahead about where you are going and plan a route that minimizes traffic conflicts. Avoid busy or unsafe streets. Travel on roads designated for bike travel.
- Wear the brightest clothes you can find. I want to be seen from a mile away. Red, yellow, neon colors are best. I make jokes about “safety black.” Black may be slimming and popular, but it is hard to see from a distance.
- Helmet. Don’t leave home without it. Period.
- Rear view mirror. Don’t leave home without it. I’ve been ridiculed by riders who tell me that after riding 100,000 on a bike, they have a sixth sense of what is behind them. Well, I have a first sense – I can see the entire road behind me, and it helps make good traffic decisions. I wear one glued to my helmet. It takes a couple of rides to figure out where to focus, but once you are used to it, it becomes indispensable.
- Don’t be afraid to start YELLING! I mean it. Don’t be shy. If you are in a situation where you need to get a driver’s attention start yelling. Make it loud. Most drivers appreciate your efforts to be seen, because like you they do not want to be in an accident. But, remember if you sound too aggressive, you may be facing another problem — a grumpy or angry driver.
More helpful stay-safe tips:
- Be predictable. Don’t surprise pedestrians, motorists, or other cyclists on the road by making impulsive moves.
- Double check. Look behind you to make sure it’s clear before changing lanes, swerving, or making a turn.
- STOP! Obey stop signs and stop light signals. Never ride into the street without stopping first and looking both ways. If the intersection is not busy, make sure there are no oncoming conflicts before you decide not to come to a full stop.
- Be careful who you follow. If you don’t know the other cyclist, you don’t know their skills or what they may do. Don’t trust the cyclist in front of you to always make the best decision. If you riding with regular cycling buddies, work out the rules so everyone knows the hand signs that will be used, and how you will make transitions in traffic.
- Keep it steady. When encountering road difficulties, keep a firm grip on the handle bars. You have more control when your bike is under power. I avoided going down on bad pavement by Lake Garda in Italy, by keeping a strong grip on the handlebars and powering my way through the rough section by pedaling. A couple of other riders on my trip ended up in the emergency room with serious road rash and a separated shoulder.
- Dominate the road. If the road is narrow, and you have the right of way, position yourself to avoid conflicts. For example: If you find yourself going downhill on a narrow road where there is no room for a car to pass, dominate the space. If the car tries to pass and another vehicle is driving the opposite direction, the passing driver may be forced to turn into you. Use your judgment.
- Dogs. The biggest danger is being thrown by getting one under your front wheel. Don’t look them in the eye, they take it as a direct challenge. Keep pedaling, a quiet approach may work. Be prepared to get off your bike and keep it between you and the dog. If the dog starts coming after you, start picking up speed and start yelling NO. Dogs understand the word NO. Get out your water bottle and be ready to squirt it at the dog. I outsprinted the German shepherd because I sized him up before he saw me. I put it in my biggest gear and started cranking on the pedals. By the time he made his decision, I was going too fast for him to catch me. And, I was yelling NO, water bottle in hand.
- Good judgment. There is no substitute for good judgment.
Buy as much insurance as you can afford. Health insurance, disability insurance, auto insurance –particularly underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage which will protect you if you are involved in a crash with an uninsured driver. Buy an umbrella policy that will increase your underinsured motorist coverage. Not all umbrella policies increase uninsured motorist coverage – you have to shop for extra coverage. You are not just insuring your car, you are insuring yourself against harm.