Monday, June 28, 2010

Do you know what to do?

If you're a cyclist in Toronto (or anywhere you share the roads with automobiles), odds are that you'll be involved in some sort of car/bike conflict -- whether it's a near miss, or heaven forbid, you have to use the hood of the offending vehicle to break your fall (or worse).

But if it happens to you ... or in front of you ... do you know what to do? Here's some helpful tips.

1.) Assess. Are you hurt? Is your bicycle? Are you standing in the road? If you're able, move to the curb/shoulder and recruit someone nearby to help you (even if you think you don't need it).

2.) Information. As soon as possible, take down as much information as you can. If you have your cell phone, leave yourself a voicemail. If it's a blackberry, email it to yourself.
  • Location, date and exact time

  • Vehicle license plate, make, model, and colour

  • Driver's name, address, dated of birth and licnese number directly from the driver's licence. (Don't take a business card as a substitute!)
Then, take down as much of what happened as possible: weather, road conditions, direction of travel, visibility, lighting, speeds, what you're wearing, what your bike looks like, a description of the driver.

3.) Witnesses. Look for drivers, passengers, passersby. Get names and numbers and ask them to wait for the police.

4.) If police attend, get a copy of the accident report or case number. Take down the name and badge number of the officer and if appropriate, politely ask the officer to issue a ticket to the driver.

If you don't know whether or not you should call the police, call the police and ask them.

Since there are still a number of officers hanging around Queen's Park post-G20, I quizzed them on my way home. They said if you're injured at all, even if you just skin your elbow, call the cops.

**Okay. At this point, you should probably just start reading this post again. The rest of this you can look up again if you need it but the first four points, as simple as they may seem to you from the safety of your computertron, are extremely difficult to remember at the scene. So internalize, internalize, internalize and then when you need it, it will be automatic.**

When you get home ...

5.) See a doctor immediately, even for minor injuries. Some injuries take a while to surface, especially because you'll be all adrenalinized for a few hours -- possibly all day -- afterwards.

6.) If you haven't had contact with police yet, you have 24 hours in which to do so. Have all the information you collected available and file a report.

7.) If there are damages, call your insurance company and have all the information ready for them as well.

8.) Document and save the evidence. Photograph your mangled bike, and your injuries. Save receipts for anything you have to replace. Hold on to the helmet or accessories that were involved in the accident. Keep a detailed diary about injuries, pain, time taken off work and all other costs related to the collision.

9.) Lawyer. Consider one if you need legal backing to get compensation. In traffic accidents, the insurance companies battle it out. But when a bike is involved, you might have to sue.

Hope this helps, and that you never need these tips!

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