If you’re my friend on social media, you probably already know that I had one horrible week in July. I was hit by a car on the way to work, and it totally ruined my beautiful bike. It was a pretty awful experience BUT I learned quite a lot from it, so I figured I should share my new knowledge. Hopefully this will help other cyclists and give you an idea about what to do after you get hit by a car in Vancouver or anywhere in British Columbia.
R.I.P my lovely bike and bright bike basket! This did not survive the collision.
How to avoid crashes in Vancouver:
I should probably mention that I am a veeery careful cyclist. I never run red lights, I give way to pedestrians and I do my best to anticipate the crazy behaviour of drivers because I have learned that some drivers just don’t watch out for vulnerable road users.
- Follow the rules!! If you’re not sure, have a look here and here.
- Wear a helmet
- Make sure you are visible – wear bright clothes and have proper lights when it is dark
- Be VERY careful about passing cars on the right (especially if it looks like they are about to turn right!) I don’t pass cars on the right unless there is loooads of room AND the cars are moving very slowly or stopped in traffic.
- Practice signalling. Always signal before you turn so drivers and pedestrians know what you’re about to do!
- Watch out for car doors! People sometimes open their car door without checking for bicycles, so be reeeeally careful when you go past parked cars.
What to do if you are in a collision
I should admit, I did most of this wrongly! I was in shock, shaking and I didn’t know what details I’d need later!
- Pick yourself up off the road and get yourself to safety. I had to pick up my bags, water bottle and bike, then walk down to where the driver had stopped.
- Get the details of the driver and the car. I managed to get the phone number of the man who hit me, but I don’t know his full name, and ICBC wouldn’t give it to me later.
- If there is a witness, get their details too. A lady offered to give me her details after my collision, but I wasn’t thinking straight, so I told her I’d be fine.
- Make sure you’re really okay! I think I was in shock, as I didn’t feel any pain until much later in the afternoon. My bruises didn’t show up until about 5 days after the crash. Be aware that you might feel different later!
- Once you calm down, you need to contact ICBC and report the accident within 48 hours.
- Consider contacting a lawyer. I was not planning to do this until after I spoke to several other cyclists. They all said I should at least speak to a lawyer. The lawyer I spoke to really helped me understand what to expect when the ICBC called me back.
Get to wherever you are going
I got straight back onto my bike (which was probably a mistake as I was so shaken up!) However, after just a few meters, I realized that my bike was now too wobbly to get me to work. I was about 7km from work, so I figured I should find a bus!
Luckily, you can easily put your bike on the racks on the front of buses in Vancouver. I wasn’t sure how to do this, but the driver (and a kind fellow passenger) helped me work it out. I actually made it to work on time, even after my crash detour.
Once I made it to work, I made myself a cuppa and asked for a band-aid/ antiseptic for my scrapes. The cup of tea made my whole world a little better. This may be overly English advice, but I think if you end up in a collision, get yourself a cuppa.
When ICBC call you back
Everyone in British Columbia has to buy car insurance through ICBC, so when you are in a collision, they are the place that will contact the driver and sort out your claim for compensation. They will ask for the following bits of information when they call you back to talk about your collision:
- The details about the collision, where you were, where the car was, what the traffic lights were doing, were there other cars around etc. Basically, as much detail as you can remember about the moments before the car hit you. It helps to draw a diagram of the collision before they call, so you have the details in your mind.
- What you were wearing (I guess this could lead to a bit of victim blaming!?)
I was wearing bright colours and a helmet, so I told them that. I also mentioned that my bike was covered in orange flowers, so I don’t fade into the background!!
- Details about your injuries. It’s okay to give them more information later if you feel worse! I bounced off the car, so luckily, my physical injuries were not too bad.
- Details about the damage to your bike and their car. I thought my bike was okay (just a bent wheel) when I first spoke to ICBC. But later once I got bike shops to look at it, I discovered it was much worse. My beautiful bike was a total write-off. *sob*
Getting a quote for your bike
ICBC won’t trust you that your bike is broken, so you’ll need to take it to a couple of bike shops, and ask them to do an ICBC assessment. First of all, take photos of your bike and the damage.
I took mine to the Bike Kitchen at UBC. They were incredibly kind, helpful and gave me lot of good advice. They sat me down and talked me through their assessment so I knew what was wrong. They also told me I’d need a second quote, and that I shouldn’t have to pay for it.
Next, I went over to Bike Doctor’s where I originally bought my bike. They were having a closing down sale, so they were too busy to help me. So, I walked over to Denman Bike Shop (I won’t add their link, as they were not helpful). They were pretty rude and they said they had to charge me $25 just to look at my bike, so I didn’t leave it there. Finally, I tried Mighty Riders. This shop was really good for me. They took my bike and promised they’d look at it and get back to me. They asked details about the accident, and then called me for more details later (they were friendly and thorough.)
In the end, both bike shops agreed that my bike was dead. I had to send copies of their quotes along with photos of my damaged bike and injuries to ICBC. I also made a video of my wobbly wheel (as you can’t really see how bad it is from photos.)
After I had given ICBC all the details, they said they had to investigate who was at fault with my collision. About a week later, they confirmed that it was 100% the driver’s fault, and that they would pay for my new bike (yay!!) However, when they followed up with the details about this, I was told that they won’t cover the ‘depreciation’ of my bike, so they planned to give me a couple $100s less than it would cost me to buy a new bike.
This basically means that even though the driver failed to yield when it was my right of way aaaand even though I was the only one to get hurt, the insurance still left me much worse off. In many ways it is rubbish to be a cyclist.
My friend Craig told me when ICBC did this to him, he took a day off and went to ICBC to advocate for himself to ensure he’d receive the full amount for his bike. However for me, losing a day of work will cost me just as much as I could gain from the full value of the bike, so it’s not worth the extra hassle. I’m pissed off about it, but I can’t really see how I can fix that.
Introducing my new Brodie Bike
I had to buy a new bike already, so hopefully I will receive a cheque from ICBC in the mail soon! This is my new bike! I recovered as many flowers as I could from my broken bike, and bought some new ones, so I am already back to my bright cheerful cycle-style!
I covered the new bike in flowers already too. 😊