Accidents Will Happen

By Andres Tiribocchi

A group of cyclists takes the lane and stops at a red light of a complicated intersection, an impatient driver stops behind and after the light turns green, she crosses the yellow line to pass the group on the left, and immediately turns right just in front of them hitting the first rider. Ironic as it sounds, less than 12 hours after submitting June’s column (about safe riding) to the MasterLink Editor, I was the cyclist who had that crash while leading a club ride.

As I mentioned in previous columns, crashes are the result of a combination of factors, and our job is to minimize the chances by controlling those aspects that depend mainly on us, and this is the reason why we are committed to keep the conversation about safety. But crashes will keep happening despite our best efforts, and there is another topic that people rarely talk or think about: what to do after someone has had an accident.

The Ride Leaders accept many responsibilities when we post a ride, and in case of an accident we should follow some basic steps:

  • In the first place, call the police and, in case of potential injuries, also call the emergency medical service. The safest way to proceed when a cyclist is injured is to follow the same protocols that apply to any other kind of accident: do not touch or move the person, and only let a trained person take care of the injured.
  • In case of a relatively large group, leave the road as open as possible and do not block traffic; in addition, avoid any kind of confrontation with drivers or other individuals involved in the accident.
  • Nowadays, a large percentage of us carry a phone with a camera; at least one rider should take pictures or record a video immediately after the incident: vehicles involved, license plate numbers, damages to property (bicycles, cars, etc.).
  • Try to identify at least one member as a reliable witness to obtain the best possible description of the accident. The combination of images and recollection of witnesses may be extremely important in case of a serious accident that requires an insurance claim or other type of legal procedures.
  • Contact the member’s emergency telephone listed on the sign list for the ride, and for that it is essential that all the members include one emergency contact person (and phone number) on their website profile.
  • After the ride, the Ride Leader has the obligation to notify us about the accident and provide as much information as possible; in every case, we do a follow up with the injured member and proceed to fill an Accident Report Form for our insurance company.

It does not matter how safe and focused we ride or how safety conscious our clothes and bike accessories are, we cannot control every single factor of what happens on the road. As Ride Leaders we must be prepared to act appropriately when an unexpected situation upsets our rides.