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Cycling is a popular mode of transport and exercise, but it brings with it a range of risks, including bicycle accidents that can have severe and lasting consequences. Maintaining awareness and taking any necessary precautions are essential in ensuring your safety on the road.

Cyclists, much like motorists, are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code. With knowledge of both, you can understand your duties and rights when cycling on UK roads, including what to do when something goes wrong. Failing to adhere to the law not only puts you and others at risk but could also lead to legal consequences.

In the following blog post, the cycling injuries experts at Ramsdens guide you through common types of bicycle accidents and offer advice on avoiding them.

Collisions with motor vehicles

Collisions can happen for a number of reasons and in various ways. One of the most frequent types of cycling accidents occurs at junctions, in situations where motorists fail to notice cyclists when turning.

Overtaking-related collisions are particularly dangerous and can result from a motorist attempting to overtake a cyclist without sufficient space. Sometimes, the cyclist is pushed off the road or forced into another lane of traffic, both of which can result in serious injuries or even fatalities.

'Dooring' occurs when someone in a parked car opens a door without checking for oncoming cyclists. The cyclist has little-to-no time to react, leading to a direct collision with the car door. This is dangerous for the cyclist and can leave the driver legally liable for the accident.

Solo accidents

Accidents that involve only the cyclist can occur for various reasons. Wet, icy or uneven road conditions can lead to a fall. Debris, potholes and railway tracks can also be contributing factors.

Brake failures, chain slips or tyre punctures can happen unexpectedly and cause a cyclist to lose control. Regular bike maintenance is essential to minimise the risk associated with mechanical failures.

Accidents involving pedestrians

Crossings are hotspots for accidents between cyclists and pedestrians. These can occur if either party fails to notice the other or misinterprets their intentions, leading to a collision.

In many cases, both pedestrians and cyclists can cause accidents due to distractions. Whether it is the cyclist or the pedestrian who is distracted, often by using mobile phones or listening to music, the outcome can be dangerous. Lack of attention to your immediate surroundings can significantly impair your reaction time, thereby increasing the chance of being involved in an accident.

How to avoid common cycling injuries and bike accidents

Taking steps to prevent accidents and injuries is only possible when you understand the risks and how to mitigate them. Here, we discuss various strategies to help you avoid the types of cycling accidents:

Road safety measures

Cycle lanes are designed to offer a safer environment for cyclists. Making use of them where they are available keeps you separate from faster and larger motor vehicles, therefore reducing the chances of an accident. Always obey cycle lane signs and road markings.

Clear communication with other road users can significantly reduce the risk of an accident. Using hand signals before turning or changing lanes informs motorists and pedestrians of your intentions, allowing them ample time to react.

High-visibility clothing is not just for night-time cycling; it’s beneficial at all times to make you more noticeable. Bright, reflective clothing and accessories like armbands or backpack covers can alert drivers to your presence.

Equipment safety

Frequent maintenance checks on your bicycle are vital for ensuring your safety. Make sure the brakes are responsive, the tyres are properly inflated and all nuts and bolts are secure. Investing in quality parts can make a significant difference in the overall safety of your cycling experience.

A helmet is an essential piece of equipment that can protect you from severe head injuries. Gloves can offer better grip and knee and elbow pads can protect against scrapes and cuts. For those cycling in busy urban areas, rear-view mirrors are also a wise investment.

Awareness and education

Speed is a critical factor in many accidents. High speeds make it difficult for you to react to sudden changes in your environment, whether it’s a car abruptly stopping in front of you or a pedestrian crossing the road unexpectedly. Maintain a speed at which you can comfortably control your bike and react to emergencies.

Large vehicles like lorries have blind spots where the driver cannot see you. Always maintain a safe distance and make sure you are visible to the driver. Be cautious at intersections and when passing parked cars, as these are common areas where accidents happen.

Whether you're a new or experienced cyclist, taking a cycling course can be incredibly beneficial. These courses often cover essential road safety measures and educate you on the rights and responsibilities of a cyclist.

What to do if you are involved in a cycling accident

Despite taking all the necessary precautions, accidents can still happen. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a cycling accident, it's essential that you take immediate action. The first and foremost step is to call emergency services. If you or anyone else is seriously injured, getting medical attention is vital for your health and for gathering evidence if you decide to make a compensation claim later down the line. If possible, move yourself and your bicycle out of the way of oncoming traffic to a safe location while waiting for emergency services.

Seek medical attention even if you think your injuries are minor. Often, symptoms can manifest later, and it's important to have a medical record for insurance and legal purposes. Keep all documentation related to any treatments, medications or therapy you receive.

While it may not be your top priority following your bicycle accident, taking photographs or video footage of the scene can help. If you can, capture details like road conditions, vehicle positions and any visible injuries. These can be critical pieces of evidence for insurance and legal claims. If there are any witnesses, try to collect their contact details and a brief account of what they saw. Eyewitness testimony can be vital in building your case.

Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be legally obliged to report it to the police. Even if this is not mandatory, having an official police report can aid in any future legal claims. You should also notify your insurance provider about the accident as soon as possible. Keep all correspondence and take note of all discussions, as this information may be useful in any future claims.

Speaking to a solicitor specialising in personal injury claims - like those at Ramsdens Solicitors - can help you navigate the complexities of the legal process. We can guide you on the steps to take and what claims you may be entitled to make.

Contact us

Cycling accidents are unfortunately common, but many can be avoided if you adhere to road laws, take safety measures, and stay aware of your surroundings. If you need legal advice following a cycling accident, call Ramsdens Solicitors today on 01484 821 500, or fill out an online contact form to arrange a time for us to call you back.