We've used the word "accident" on our site for years. As of today, that changes.
The crash that sent our webmaster and blogger Mike Dayton to the ICU (still in critical condition) and that injured three others has garnered much attention around the country. We have reported on his condition, and the weak charges filed against the reckless driver.
Thanks to so many for your kind words and thoughts to Mike. We have received thousands of messages of support and concern. It is a comfort to be reminded of the power of community. Cyclists are the best.
The attention prompted an overdue, critical look at our site, the words we actually use, and the message we send.
We have long argued that bicycle crashes are not “accidents.” North Carolina attorney Ann Groninger (who proudly represents Mike) has made the point on these pages. Lawyers in our Network have represented injured cyclists in thousands of cases. We know, first hand, that our clients are rarely injured “accidentally.” On the contrary, in the overwhelming number of occurrences, a driver made a choice (or failed to make a choice), and that choice caused injuries, often life-changing, sometimes fatal.
Let me / Peter get personal. My brother, Jim, was killed on his bicycle by an underaged driver running a red light. It was no accident, because 10 minutes before, the driver’s mother decided to give her unlicensed daughter the keys to drive to school.
Likewise, we know that the crash that has left Mike in such dire condition was no accident.
And yet, as was pointed out by a few of you out there, we still clung to the word “accident” on the Bike Law site. Most noticeably, we titled a box on each page: “Report a Bicycle Accident.” We appreciate that you guys care enough our mission to point out our inconsistency.
Yes, we used the word “accident” on every page of our site. We did so on purpose. We did so in order to be more visible to Google. In the current state of legal marketing, lots of personal injury lawyers (most with no track record in cycling or cycling advocacy) are flooding the internet, trying to attract injured cyclists. Because “accident” is by far the most searched relevant term, because “bicycle accident” is what is used by the general public, we used it too. We want to be visible, and we want to represent injured cyclists, regardless of whether they know or understand the distinction in word usage.
But as of today, we are changing. It is no longer ‘Report a Bicycle Accident.” It is “Report a Bicycle Crash.” And we will be making similar changes across the site in coming days. We want to be true to you guys, true to our mission, and be a part of changing how bicycle crashes are viewed and understood.
We realize that the distinction does make a difference.
It is worth quibbling over semantics.
A BICYCLE CRASH IS NOT AN ACCIDENT.