In South Carolina, for example, we partnered up with South Carolina's bicycle advocacy group, the Palmetto Cycling Coalition. Relying on the PCC's advocacy experience, dynamic leadership, and network of clubs, and adding our view from the trenches and real world knowledge, the Project Team designed and produced a video PSA campaign, entitled Safe Streets Save Lives. Join the movement for better in cycling at Safe Streets Save Lives.
Not only are these videos a model of how to improve bicycle safety, the innovative partnership between the PCC and Bike Law is a model of how bike advocacy groups can work together to make cycling better and safer.
When roads improve for the safety of bicyclists, they become safer for all users.
Riding your bicycle is a safe, healthy and cherished way of life, but we have a long way to go to create a truly bicycle-friendly community. We hope that Bike Law can play a part in getting us there. Meanwhile, if you ever find yourself in a bicycle accident, here's what you need to know.
Here's a great article by Laura Bliss on the Atlantic's City Lab site that explains why it all matters so much.
Ride with a cell phone, personal identification, emergency contact, and something to write with.
Dial 911: call the police or an ambulance immediately. If you are unable to do so, ask someone to help.
Always wait for the police to arrive and file an official accident report. A police report provides documentation detailing the incident, including the identity of witnesses.
Get the business card of the officer.
Leave your bike in the same state it was after the accident, if possible. It is best if the police see the accident scene undisturbed.
Obtain the contact information of any witnesses.
Immediately seek medical attention, either at the scene, the emergency room, hospital or doctor's office. When in doubt go to the ER! Give all complaints to the doctor. Medical records are proof that you were injured and document the extent of your injuries.
Take photos of injuries and keep a diary of how you feel after the accident.
Never negotiate with the driver of the vehicle, regardless of who may be at fault. Get the driver's name and his or her insurance information, along with the names of any passengers.
Give no written or recorded statements to anyone.
One of the most important lessons we have learned is that most bicycle collisions have simple causes. Never forget these basic rules.
Think about it: we deal with adversity in the saddle on every ride. Headwinds, nagging aches, and blistering heat are all part of our beloved sport. Complaining is not.
Our traits - self-sufficiency, stoicism, and strength - may make us great riders, but also make us bad accident victims. Bike Law attorneys have represented many cyclists who have ridden away from falls, only later to discover they have major injuries. We have had to cajole my clients to see doctors; invariably, our clients understate their injuries, refusing to admit that they are in pain. One client lived with debilitating pain for months, unwilling to accept any weakness in body or spirit. The first advice we give our clients is to recognize that an accident is a traumatic event. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed. Accept it.
Countless times we have heard about police officers that simply don't know how to handle bike accidents.
We were once retained by a cyclist who was hit by a car on his commute to work. While waiting for the police to arrive, the motorist admitted that she had failed to look before pulling out and that she was responsible. The officer incorrectly informed the motorist that she was not at fault and refused to write an accident report. Consequently, the motorist refused responsibility. It is not your fault if the police officer and motorist don't know the laws! If you are in a bike accident, you can do something about it, even if the police officer is ignorant of your rights. The accident report, the police's determination of fault, and the findings of the traffic court, while all potentially helpful to your case, are not what determines your rights.
It may be tempting at the time, but since you may not know the extent of your injuries or even the damage to your bike, do not negotiate with the driver.
Likewise, soon after an accident, you may get a call from the motorist's insurance company. Their goal is to get you to settle and compromise your claim as soon as possible, usually before you are armed with adequate knowledge. It is only rarely appropriate for an accident victim to negotiate directly with an insurance company. This advice is particularly directed at cyclists. While stoicism may be a personal virtue, it will not serve you well in negotiating your own case.
When you are in an accident, communicate with the cycling community, your local club, Bike Law, and other advocates.
You are not alone, as many of us have dealt with accidents before. It is important to get the advice and support of the cycling community.
Many times, cyclists are reluctant to contact Bike Law because they believe their accident is not important enough.
For the cycling community to advance our rights, we believe it is important to protect those rights whenever they are infringed. If we wait only until the most serious cases, we miss opportunities to stand up for our rights, to educate the general community, and maybe even to prevent future accidents from occurring.
Our cycling laws (which are getting better and better) put the obligation on the driver to exercise due care to avoid a cyclist, regardless of what the cyclist is doing.
Recently an experienced cyclist failed to call the police after an accident (in which he broke a bone) because he assumed it was his fault. On hindsight and after reviewing his legal rights, it turned out that the driver was probably the one at fault, not him. But since he did not call the police or get the name or license tag number of the driver, he was unable to do anything about it. He later said that he had been too embarrassed to call the police. In reality, he probably was in shock from the trauma of the accident and was not thinking clearly.