Cycling injuries: What are the common causes?

Summer is finally upon us and the weather is finally picking up, as a result, many cyclists will ditch the car for their bikes on their commute to work. However, with potentially more bikes around, there is the possibility of an increase in cycling injuries. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of some of the more common causes of cycling accidents in a bid to help you avoid any potentially dangerous scenario.

We’ll also outline how you can make a personal injury claim if you’ve already suffered a cycling accident or in case you have the misfortune of experiencing one in the future.

The facts

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) states that 18,477 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents in 2016, the majority of which were adults.

Many of the injuries suffered are catastrophic, with over 75% of those injured suffering a head or brain injury.

Whilst cycling accidents can occur almost anywhere, RoSPA also reports that junctions in urban areas are where cyclists are most at risk with 75% of all reported accidents occurring there. 

Men are also most at risk of being involved in a cycling accident, with approximately 80% of all casualties being male.

The largest proportion of injuries are also head injuries which can potentially be life-threatening.

Common causes of cycling accidents

Potholes

Whilst many cycling accidents will often involve another road user, the danger can sometimes lie in the road surface itself.

Potholes can lead to disastrous consequences for a cyclist, throwing them from their bike and potentially launching them into the path of oncoming traffic.

Ensuring you stay aware of your surroundings and road positioning while you cycle can help ensure you don’t end up involved in a nasty cycling accident.

Should you suffer an injury as a result of a poorly maintained road surface, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation against the local highway authority or council as it is their duty to ensure that road surfaces and pathways are kept safe and well-maintained.

These types of claims can often be complex and it’s essential you have the right solicitor in place to assist you in your claim. Our personal injury solicitors are experts in dealing with all manner of cycling accident claims, including those against local bodies or authorities. They will be able to advise you on every aspect of the claim, from gathering evidence to negotiating a settlement figure.

Car-doors

Car-dooring is the act of being thrown from a bike because the driver or passenger of a vehicle has opened the door in a cyclist’s path without checking to see if it’s safe first.

At present the law states that anyone found guilty of causing death or serious injury as a result of car-dooring could face a fine of up to £1,000, however, a claim for compensation may also be made against the guilty party.

One initiative that has been proposed to improve safety when getting out of a car is the Dutch Reach, which is a technique currently taught to drivers and passengers in the Netherlands. 

The technique is one that is a compulsory part of the driving test in the Netherlands and it requires the driver or passenger to reach for the door handle with the hand that is furthest away from the handle, for drivers in the UK this would mean opening the door with the left hand. 

By using this technique, drivers and passengers are forced to turn their body, making it much more likely that they’ll see an oncoming cyclist approaching from the rear, and thus giving them time to react accordingly.

This approach has been supported by several cycling safety organisations and bodies including Cycling UK, who suggest it has the potential to save lives.

Other road users not paying attention

Top of the list when it comes to cycling accidents are collisions with other road vehicles. Junctions in particular, as we have already highlighted, are a key incident area that cyclists should look out for.

There are a host of reasons that a collision with another road user might occur, including distracted or unobservant drivers. To help you avoid this type of accident, which could leave you with catastrophic injuries, it’s always best to take as many safety precautions as possible. Wearing high-vis gear may seem like something you only need to do when the nights are dark, but wearing this type of gear can be just as beneficial during the day too. It’ll help you stand out among other road traffic and make you more visible to your fellow road users. 

You can also combat the fact that some drivers may be unobservant by being extra vigilant yourself. Avoid using headphones as they can block out the noise of any traffic approaching from the rear and make sure you always stop at any red traffic lights, don’t be an amber gambler. 

You should also keep your phone or smartwatch in your pocket or backpack until it’s safe to stop and look at it. Always remember every second spent looking at your smartphone or smartwatch is a second less spent looking at the road ahead and it could potentially mean you fail to see a potential hazard developing in front of you.

Cycling too fast

Sometimes when it comes to cycling, you can be your own worst enemy. 

Whilst cycling fast can be a lot of fun, it’s important not to overdo it. There may be very little danger of a cyclist breaking the legal speed limit, but cycling too fast can put you in danger of being hit by other vehicles or running into pedestrians. 

By slowing down you give yourself more time to react to anything that is happening in front of you and potentially avoid a cycling accident. To help you judge your speed make sure you consider the state of the road surface, the volume of traffic and the weather conditions. Remember in wet weather you should always ride slower than you would normally due to the reduced tyre grip on the road.

Weaving and filtering

One of the best ways to help other road users be aware of your presence as a cyclist is to be predictable. If you can avoid weaving in and out of traffic and stay in your lane, filtering through traffic whilst a traffic light on red could potentially get you where you need to go faster, but it also vastly increases your chances of being involved in a cycling accident as drivers may not spot you in their blind spot as you traverse through the traffic.

Again, wearing high-vis gear can also help you be detected by other road users, so investing in a quality set of equipment is always wise.

What to do next if you’re involved in a cycling accident

You may well be the most careful cyclist to have ever mounted a bike, but unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you’re free from risk. Sadly, cycling accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time, however, if the accident wasn’t your fault, you could be eligible to make a claim for compensation. 

If you want to give yourself the best chance of making a successful claim for damages, it’s vital you choose an expert cycling accident solicitor.

Here at Cycle Assist, our team have successfully represented clients who have sustained both minor and major injuries and are specialists in handling cycling accident claims. 

Our team takes an arm-around-the-shoulder approach to ensure you not only secure the maximum amount of compensation you claim for, but you also have access to the best possible rehabilitative treatment that you may need following your cycling accident.

We also work on a no-win-no-fee basis and offer a free initial interview to learn more about your personal injury claim and assess its viability, before advising you on what steps you’ll need to take next.

We do this to minimise the financial impact on you in the wake of your cycling accident, allowing you to put all your focus on your recovery.

If you’d like to discuss a potential cycling accident claim with a member of our team you can arrange an appointment by completing our online enquiry form or you can give us a call on 01625 506 672.