This is a blog post that I hoped I’d never have to write, but it’s an all too common story from road cyclists in my hometown of Sydney – three weeks ago I was hit by a car while riding my bike.
I was riding through a roundabout in the street where I live, and a car entered the roundabout and hit me. I went over her bonnet and landed on the ground. Miraculously I was not badly injured, although I’ve had medical treatment and ongoing therapy. But on balance I’m a very lucky woman.
I’m writing this post not to scare other riders but to share an experience so we can all learn from it.
I’m a relatively cautious person and as a cyclist I don’t take risks, but three weeks ago I made a bad decision to keep going, because I thought the driver had seen me, and was stopping. It turned out she didn’t see me, and collided with me. She jumped out of her car and said “I’m so sorry. I didn’t see you”.
I was very lucky to get up and walk away, albeit with a very sore back on the left side which was where I landed.
I’d like to share a couple of things I’ve learned as result of this accident:
- Report it to the police, and if necessary get them to attend the scene. I’ve now reported this accident to the police but they weren’t so keen to take the details over the phone on the day. Be insistent because you don’t know if you’ll have ongoing medical or property damage issues.
- Get the details of the driver(s) including their driver’s license number and address, registration and if you’re badly injured, or in shock as I was, ask a trusted person to assist. Better still take a photograph of the driver’s license of the driver. If they won’t allow you to do this, call the police who will compel them to do so.
- Get the details of any witnesses and ask them if they are willing to assist in the future.
- Seek medical care, even if you feel okay. You don’t know if you’ll have ongoing treatment as I have had. If in doubt, call an ambulance or ask someone else to call.
- Be risk averse when riding. This won’t always keep you safe but it will help. Expect drivers to ‘not see you’ and be ready to react.
For the record this accident occurred at 8.30 am in the morning in good weather conditions, on a local suburban road. I was wearing a white helmet, light coloured cycling kit and my front light was flashing.
The driver made a genuine mistake when she didn’t see me. While I’m a little angry about her negligence, and very angry about her denial of liability with her insurance company, I’m mostly angry that we have a car-centric road system that causes an experienced driver to “not see a cyclist” who was clearly right in front of her.
I love the work of the Amy Gillett Foundation and other advocacy groups who work hard to try and change the attitude of drivers, and the roads conditions throughout Australia. Keep up the good work guys.
So many cyclists are badly injured, and some die on our roads each year. I’m just so grateful I’m not one of them.
For once I’m going to ask that you don’t share your own sad stories of bike/car accidents, but please share some positive stories about cycling advocacy and more. Use comments of the Women Who Cycle Facebook page.