How to reduce crash damage

What to do if you come off your bike

If you are unlucky enough to have a collision on your bike, here’s how to limit the damage — before, during and after impact.

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Relax

If there’s time (and the head space) to think about what you’re doing as you crash, tuck your chin in and protect your head with an arm, unclip and relax your body — if you’re too rigid you’re more likely to break something, often the shoulder, elbow or wrist.

Relaxing will absorb the shock and usually lessen the chance of serious damage.

Call for help

Once you’re off, assess the situation. Are you still in the road and, if so, can you move to safety? If you can’t, shout until a passer-by gives you a hand.

Then call the police — even if it’s just to notify them of a road obstruction. Then you’ll also have an official record of exactly when and where the incident happened.

Check yourself

How are you? Are you bleeding? Is anything broken? Check for swelling or bruising, paying particular attention to your head and abdominal area — any damage here and you need to get to hospital.

Same if there’s a lot of blood or broken teeth. Fractures that aren’t dealt with quickly might heal badly, and bad cuts left untreated are likely to get infected, smelly and painful.

Get insurance, get details

The CTC and British Cycling offer membership packages that provide insurance and legal aid, but otherwise shop around. If a car is involved, make sure you get its registration number and insurance details and, if you can, take a few pictures of any damage to your bike, yourself, as well as the car.

The driver might try to move the car to a less incriminating position, so get evidence quick!

Check you are safe

If you are relatively unharmed, be sure to perform a quick bike check before hopping back on board.

Give your wheels a spin to make sure they aren’t bent or rubbing the brake pads. Check for flats and for a bent bar, as well as a twisted or loose saddle. See if your chain has been broken or dislodged and test your brakes and shifters to make sure they still work.

If all this is fine you should be able to ride home carefully, but remember to listen out for any clunking, clicking or rubbing that didn’t clunk, click or rub before.

For further reading on what to do after a cycling accident see this post from our forum

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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