6 tips for how to act when you get into a bicycle accident
Riding your bicycle is one of the best and safest ways to commute, exercise or travel. Still, accidents sometimes happen, that's just the way it is. The key in handling the situation successfully is to be prepared, either by carrying a small first aid kit or knowing what to do and who to call for help.
You could be riding your bike in the city, training on the road or doing a long trekking trip – suddenly you have to brake hard and you fall off your bike. No matter if it’s only minor accidents or accidents with other people involved, here are some basic rules to follow whatever the situation.
Give or ask for first aid
Fortunately, in most cases you will get away with only small cuts and bruises – probably no need to call an ambulance. Before you dress the wound and stop the bleeding, make sure you clean and preferably sanitize the wound area with hygienic wet wipes or other antiseptic solution to prevent possible infection. If you have any doubt about your condition, please go see a doctor or go to a hospital to get checked out, especially if you have hit your head.
Move yourself and your bike out of the way
If no major injuries occurred and you can move independently, it is always a good idea to get yourself and your bike out of traffic This rule applies mostly to road accidents, where the ongoing traffic might result in further accidents to yourself or others.
Don’t be in a hurry, make sure you and your bike are alright
Check yourself for minor bruises or injuries: look for cuts, bruises, strains or even broken bones. Even if your bike is okay, make sure before leaving the site that you can move your arms and legs without too much discomfort. If you are clearly injured or unsure of your condition, call an ambulance.
Check your bike. Don’t try to ride it until you have checked at least the following:
1) the frame and fork are okay with no bends or cracks,
2) the wheels are straight, spinning normally and no spokes are missing
3) the brakes and gears (both derailleurs) are still working properly.
Keep cool. Don’t provoke or be provoked
If there’s an bicycle accident with another person involved, have in mind that none of it was on purpose. You opponent is probably in the same shock as you are. It is wise to remain calm and avoid verbal fights.
Injury from an accident with other people involved? Call the police
- For legal and insurance reasons, it is vital that both sides give their statement to the police. Before the police arrives, gather important information that you may need later; the other party’s and possible eyewitnesses contact info, the car’s license plate number etc. Take photos of damages to yourself, the bike, helmet and clothes. Write down the time the accident happened. Remember to ask for a copy of the police report.
- If the police doesn’t arrive at the scene, go and make a statement at a police station as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in your mind.
- Don’t give or receive cash to settle the situation at the scene. That would at least complicate things for both of you if you end up filing a legal or insurance claim over damages or hospital costs.
What to do after the accident
Take your bike to a professional bike shop to be evaluated for repair costs. This should tremendously help your case to receive compensation from your or the other party’s insurance policy. If your helmet got cracked (even a little bit) – get a new one.
Some more tips to consider
- Fill out the ICE (in case of emergency) information on your mobile phone. You can add personal information such as blood type and possible drug allergies. This is valuable information to paramedics in case you are unable to answer their questions. It’s also a good idea to add phone number and address of a person to be called in emergency.
- Carry a small first aid kit with you on your rides. A couple of band-aids, wound dressing and individually packed sterile wet wipes (and perhaps a pair of latex gloves) in a small resealable plastic bag doesn’t take a lot of room in your pack or your cycling jersey’s back pocket.
- Apply for a course in first aid. You will never know when you or someone else need your skills.
These tips should help you make your rides safer, and encourage you to take action if you see someone else get hurt. By spreading these tips to your friends and family, you help make your city safer to commute for everyone.