There are several good reasons that cycling is being encouraged more than ever as a mode of transport: it provides a healthy form of exercise in a time when public health and fitness is well and truly in the spotlight, and it is an environmentally friendly, cost-effective way to get from place to place. As one of the healthiest ways to travel, cycling is actually more widespread than ever before. Prompted by the success of London’s ‘Boris Bike’ scheme, towns and cities throughout the country are now busy rolling out their own versions, in an effort to advocate healthier methods of transport. With more than 610,000 journeys made everyday by bicycle in London alone, cycling is more prevalent than before, but this surge in cyclists also means higher likelihood of cycling accidents. Considering this, here is a guide to what cyclists should know about keeping safe, and what should be done if an accident does occur.

The Causes

Because they don’t offer the immediate protection of an outer shell like cars and other vehicles do, bicycles can be a dangerous mode of transport, making it all the more important that cyclists take all the necessary steps to keep themselves safe from prospective risks on the road and to ensure they operate safely in relation to other vehicles. Of course, accidents vary hugely, but the majority of bicycle accidents are caused by the same handful of elements:

  • Inattentive riding
  • Riding too fast
  • Riding too close to other lanes of traffic
  • Intersection and lane merging
  • Riding on pavements, driveways or car parks

A thorough understanding of the risks of cycling and the source of danger can make a huge difference to how safely cyclists ride, and ultimately their risk of getting into an accident. Statistics report that every year, 100 cyclists are killed on Britain’s roads, while a further 3000 suffer serious injuries as a result of bicycle accidents. It is wise for cyclists to break away from assumptions that other drivers will accommodate them or can see them, as this reliance on other vehicles can cause careless or reckless riding styles.

Prevention is the Key

Considering how immediately vulnerable cyclists are to dangers on the road compared to other sorts of vehicle driver, it is all the more worrying that cyclists have something of a reputation for writing their own rules for the road. This causes both annoyance to other drivers, and danger to everyone – lack of consideration for the road and other drivers is a common cause of accidents. Cyclists are responsible for cycling safely, although rules are not enforced on cyclists with the same stringency that they are on drivers of other vehicles. Cyclists should thoroughly revise the Highway Code and all the regulations required of them. Cycling in a way that is not in keeping with the Highway Code’s requirements may well cause the cyclist to be found liable for any accident that occurs as a result.

Being fully equipped with the right protective clothing and accessories is essential. Hi-vis clothing, sashes and badges should be worn on the body, while the bicycle itself should be fitted with the correct lights and reflective strips, as per the Highway Code. Helmets are also a requirement, and should always be bought new, and replaced if they take any impact, as this will compromise their suitability to protect and could cause injury if involved in an accident. The bicycle itself must be regularly maintained to the correct standard, and care must be taken when cycling in adverse weather conditions. These points are all legal requirements specified in the Highway Code, and failure to adhere to them not only risks the safety of the cyclists and others around them, but is also illegal.

When Accidents Happen

Being involved in road accidents is a frightening experience, and they often happen quite spontaneously, causing the body to release adrenaline. This can make it difficult to remain calm in such instances, but it is important to try. In the event of an accident, help should be sought immediately. Most of the time, others involved in the accident – provided they are not injured – will rush to the aid of a cyclist to see how they are and what can be done to help. Should a driver be complicit in an accident and flee the scene, cyclists should call for help, and make sure that medical professionals and police are called to the scene.

If a cyclist gets involved in a road accident, they must immediately make effort to gather evidence of the incident. If serious injuries have been sustained, a trusted friend or family member should be asked to do this for them. The collection of evidence of the accident, including photographic evidence if possible, is integral to resolving the issue in a way that benefits everyone involved. Details such as the name and contact details of anyone involved, the make, model and registration number of any vehicles involved, and any injuries sustained, are essential. Any documents or reports drawn up by attending police officers and paramedics, as well as any subsequent legal or medical documents, should be sought and kept safe as evidence.

Legal Advice

After being involved in a bicycle accident, seeking legal advice from a qualified professional is a good idea. They can examine the components of an accident, and decide who was to blame for it, and how the issue can be resolved in a fair way. If a solicitor or legal expert believes that a person has been injured as a result of the negligence or misbehaviour of someone else, they may recommend that the injured party pursue a compensation claim. In such cases, they will explain to the person what they can expect to gain from taking the case to court, and  how to claim cycling accident compensation. The consequences of being injured in a bicycle accident can be more long-term than expected, and may cause problems in terms of finances, work and general health to the injured cyclist. Filing a claim for compensation can help to ease the burden of these struggles, and help make sure the person has what they need to make a recovery, or otherwise handle the effects of the accident.

Cycling is a healthy and pollutant-free mode of transport, but it can be a dangerous one. Often these risks can be avoided by taking all the necessary protective measures before setting out on a cycle journey and by surrounding drivers taking care, but even the safest of cyclists can find themselves tangled up in accidents. In such incidents, it is important that the best interest of the injured party are attended to, and that support is given. Any compensation claims or other legal advice should be sought via a reputable legal professional.

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