After one of the best summers in a long time we are all anticipating the arrival of autumn, and if you are like me, that involves checking that the central heating still works, and that the lawn is cut for the last time before winter sets in!
On a more serious note though, it is also a good time to consider our safety, especially when commuting on dark mornings and evenings when adverse weather may make our journey more hazardous. Let's not forget that this lovely summer followed one of the longest winters on record.
It is sadly no surprise then that with increased participation has come increased tragedy. The BBC has recently reported on the case of Dag Lindberg who was catastrophically injured
whilst using a London hire bike and there are countless reports of the need to make London's roads safer. I am sure the same can be said for the rest of the UK's highways.
Cyclists are unfortunately at greater risk of serious injury when out on the roads, they are small objects compared to cars or vans, and the rider doesn't have the benefit of protective armour such as that afforded by a vehicle.
Cycling Safety Advice
I see many cyclists riding along without a helmet which saddens me. Almost all of my cycling clients who have been unfortunate enough to be in a cycling accident on the road have hit their head, either on the windscreen of a car or on the road, sometimes both. The helmet dramatically reduces the risk of serious facial and brain injuries. If you are a cyclist, please always wear a helmet, they are readily available and inexpensive, and it could save your life.
I would also encourage you to invest in light reflective clothing and lights, especially as the nights draw in. Dusk light conditions can be deceiving and can often give rise to increased numbers of accidents, especially if the sun is low in the sky.
If you can afford it, a camera mounted to your helmet or cycle
to record your journey is a great idea. These can be expensive pieces of kit, but if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident the footage they hold can be invaluable in tracking down who was at fault.
My client's who have had cycling accidents are often very concerned about the damage to their cycle. Even when they are seriously injured themselves, the concern is the damage to the bike, rather than their own recovery. When you love your hobby and your bike is your pride and joy, this is completely understandable, especially if is a bike you have built to your own specifications.
If you have an accident on a bicycle that isn't your fault
, you can recover the pre accident value of your bicycle and equipment from the responsible party. If you are riding a bespoke model, this can be difficult to value so here are my three top tips:
1. Keep receipts for your purchases, whether this is a complete cycle 'off the rack', or whether it is for individual parts such as a titanium frame, Shimano gears or specialist tyres.
2. Take a photograph of your cycle to document its condition and keep it safe, renew the photograph every 6 months or so.
3. If the unfortunate happens, keep the damaged cycle and equipment, including your clothing, don't throw anything away.
Cycling is a great way to keep fit, help the environment and ease congestion in our cities, but if we are going to be a cycling nation, we must do our best to avoid being known as the most dangerous cycling nation. This means that there needs to be improvements to our road network to allow for more cycle lanes, but also that we must all take responsibility and pro actively reduce the risk of being involved in a collision.
About the author
Louisa Chambers is a Solicitor and Chartered Legal Executive within Spencers complex injury team. Louisa deals with high complexity cases that involve serious brain, head or spinal injuries occurring as a result of road traffic accidents.