In B.C., 670 cyclists are injured and six are killed in crashes involving motor vehicles from June to September every year. That means five B.C. cyclists injured each day in the summer. What should you do if you collide with a motor vehicle–or even another cyclist or pedestrian?
Earlier this week, two Vancouver cyclists were taken to hospital after colliding at an intersection. With warmer weather and June cycling awareness events such as Bike To Work Week and Velapalooza increasing ridership during summer months, it’s important to be extra aware of your surroundings and those sharing the road with you.
Here are some tips for handling collisions.
Collisions: Motor Vehicles
ICBC has reported an average of 1,400 cyclist claims every year, in which cyclists experienced injury after colliding with a motor vehicle.
“Bike Sense”, a guide distributed by the B.C. Cycling Coalition, offers useful bike safety recommendations, including tips for cycling defensively and how to anticipate potential accidents before they occur. In the case of collision with a motorist, the guide recommends:
Call 9-1-1 if you or anyone else is hurt and follow the operator’s instructions. Call local police for instructions if no one is significantly hurt.
If it is safe, move your bicycle and other vehicles away from moving traffic.
Check to make sure all parties involved have remained or returned to the scene of the collision.
Begin gathering information. It’s best not to discuss fault at the scene of the collision.
The following information is important to collect (especially the driver’s license number):
Location and exact time of the collision.
Vehicle descriptions and plate numbers.
Driver’s description and driver’s license information. Copy this information directly from the driver’s license, if possible. Don’t accept a business card without verifying that the name is the same as on the license. Driver should also provide insurance policy information.
Details of the incident, including a diagram. Describe the circumstances of the collision in detail — weather conditions, lighting, speeds.
All witness information: names and phone numbers. Including passengers – do not depend on others to take names and phone numbers.
This printable chart from ICBC can be useful to carry with you in your cycling pack or bag, as a start to help you capture some of the necessary details of an accident.
Cell phone cameras are also very helpful to capture photos of condition of the scene, any damages that have occurred, and photos of identification.
Collisions: Other Cyclists or Pedestrians
If you are in an accident with another cyclist or pedestrian resulting in injury or damages, the same steps should be followed as those for a motor vehicle accident. Collect the name and contact information/identification of the other party and any witnesses. While the cycling community is a close one in Vancouver, and most people will stop to do the right thing, it’s important to be able to reach the person involved if you find you need to provide receipts for any repairs to your cycle or equipment, or any injuries.
If the accident is serious or the other party involved flees the scene, call the police. Cyclists are legally required to remain at the scene of a collision, the same as motorists. Cyclists are also required to provide their name and address to the other party involved or to a police officer upon request.
Never leave a collision scene without speaking with the other driver, pedestrian, or cyclist involved. ‘Hit and run’ applies to cyclists as well as drivers.
Reporting and Insurance Options
Motorists in BC are required to carry third party insurance, with a minimum of $200,000 mandatory third party coverage. There are also provisions in the Insurance (Vehicle) Act which may protect BC residents who are injured by uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Third party liability insurance is not mandatory for cyclists, and a collision between a cyclist and another cyclist or a pedestrian does not involve ICBC (who are only involved if a cyclist has a collision with a motor vehicle). However, it is possible that an individual’s homeowner or tenant insurance policy may cover any personal injury or property damage that they may cause while cycling. In addition, Cycling BC also offers personal accident insurance for cyclists, covering collisions with pedestrians or other cyclists.
In addition to the tips already suggested, here are a few additional considerations about cycling collisions:
Carry health ID: Carry identification, emergency contact information, and medical insurance information, especially when you cycle alone. If you have the Health app that comes with an iPhone, you can program it so that others can use your phone to dial emergency services on your behalf without unlocking the phone, or even find out your emergency contact information and blood type for first responders, if you choose to program this information in.
Consider insurance: If you are a frequent cyclists, consider insuring yourself through Cycling BC’s packages or checking with your home insurance carrier to ensure you are covered for acts of negligence you may commit outside the home, such as cycling accidents
Wear a helmet: This one goes without saying, but belongs in any post about bike safety or collisions. Research shows that it can make the difference between life and death, or more serious injury.
If You Have a Collision:
Get a medical checkup: Get checked out by a doctor even if you feel the accident was minor. Some injuries may take time to appear, and the adrenaline in your system after a crash may mask symptoms or pain at first, especially if you are in shock. It’s best not to take any chances with your health.
Get an estimate: If your bike needs repair, get a written estimate from a bike shop so that there is a record of any damages that needs fixing right after the collision
If you have any questions about a cycling collision you have been involved in, we can help. There are regulations and time limits to making an injury claim if you have been hurt, so remember to reach out for expert advice or answers to your questions without delay, to ensure that you will qualify to be compensated if you have suffered injury or damages.