It was Tuesday morning and I had rolled out of bed to cycle over to one of the local 10 mile time trial courses to do a training TT. I was making my way out of the city and was just about to settle down on to my aerobars when I saw ahead a pedestrian crossing. I remember passing by a parked windowless white van, and then seemingly out of nowhere there was a pedestrian in the road!
This proves how much we rely on our hearing in traffic! It was 6am and he hadn’t heard me coming (obviously!) and must have thought it safe to step out into the road without looking. I remember him trying to shelter his face with his arms, bracing himself against the impact and then I was lying on the road. Ouch! There were a million things that went through my head. This hurts. Can I move all my limbs? Where’s my bike? Where is the man? This can’t be happening now! Thank goodness I still have my senses, I was incredibly lucky.
Pedestrians are soft targets and it was lucky I wasn’t riding in anger. Plenty of cuts and bruises, a buckled front wheel, and a broken helmet. I’m guessing the fact that the thing that most annoyed me was the impact this would have on my training shows just how minor my injuries really are. Those are the moments that I wish I was still a swimmer! Luckily I won’t have to go through an insurance and personal injury claim this time as they can take an age to settle! But, I think it’s useful to make a few points about what to do if you have a crash.
First, one should definitely go to hospital and get injuries checked out and documented. It’s amazing how much of the pain the shock can mask. In my 2006 crash I was convinced I could get up and walk when asked by the paramedics. Although, when I tried my knees buckled. In fact, the most serious injury I sustained was to my knee, but I only noticed the pain three hours later.
Second, one should take pictures like there is no tomorrow – injuries, bike damage, everything. Make sure (especially if there is a car involved) that the police attends the scene, and get as many witnesses as possible. Some circumstances may make this difficult but again, get as much documented as possible. It’s not unheard of for a driver to admit he was at fault at the scene only to then deny everything just days later. With regards to the last point, it’s probably useful to avoid hostility. Even if you feel like calling them the biggest idiot alive for hurting you and damaging your bike – don’t. We all make mistakes and misjudge situations. Don’t automatically assume that they were out to hurt you, keep the anger in check, it will be better in the long term!
Who do I ask for help? I’m sure there are others out there, but I would seriously recommend Cycle-Aid and their helpline (http://www.cycle-aid.co.uk/). After my 2006 crash I was in tears when I called up, and I still recall that they somehow managed to calm me down within minutes. They really know their stuff, and if necessary provide you with the legal help you need.
However, ultimately I hope you’ll never need this information. Be safe out there!