On the corner of King and 3rd Street in San Francisco, there’s a bicycle chained to the crosswalk pole. The bike is painted all white. Still, it’s easy to miss, although visible on Google streetview. But cyclists see it. And most know it’s a ghost bike, a memorial set up to remember the death of a fellow cyclist. This one is for Diana Carol Sullivan, who died February 9th, 2013 at the intersection. The 48 year-old was struck and killed by a cement truck.
In 2012 (the most recent year figures were available), there were an average of 2 bicyclist deaths a day, nationwide. While accounting for just 2% of traffic fatalities, bikes are only used for 1% of trips – meaning that those who do cycle should be aware of the dangers. The number of non-fatal car vs. bike accidents is, of course, much, much higher, running about 50,000 every year. These are officially reported injuries, and the actual number may be double or triple that amount.
With this in mind, we’ve helped create the Bike Safe Report Card – a trifold pamphlet cyclists can carry around for use when an accident happens. The brochure style makes it small enough to tuck away in a backpack or even under a bicycle seat. The purpose is two-fold.
First, the Bike Safe Report Card gives basic information on traffic rules in graphical form. It makes a handy reminder for cyclists and can help educate drivers as well. Non-cyclists are often unaware of their obligations when it comes to sharing the road. Second, there is a section for recording information after an accident has occurred.
Understandably, a cyclist may be too upset to think clearly when a driver opens a door or cuts them off. It’s tough to keep calm amidst the rush of adrenaline and anger. This can even conceal injuries – we simply don’t notice the severity. Some may even be more concerned about damage to an expensive bike than damage to themselves. When this happens, it’s often the next day or later that the real extent of an injury emerges. Scrapes can get infected, or a “twisted ankle” turns out to be a fracture instead. Bruises appear you didn’t even know you had, or the “stiff neck” doesn’t go away.
Cyclist Collision Card of San Francisco, California
The report part of the Bike Safe Report Card allows a follow up by giving cyclists an easy way to record essential information at the time of the accident. When possible, a police report should be filed, but sometimes, police either do not show up at the scene, or, when medical treatment is declined, don’t even write up the incident. This means the cyclist has to get the details: driver and vehicle data, insurance information and the specifics of how the accident happened. We automatically do this with car crashes, even minor ones, but cyclists sometimes shrug a minor accident off without understanding there may be negative consequences.
We’d like to show our support for Bay Area cyclists by providing these pamphlets free of charge. Just contact us through our website and we’ll mail you some copies. Ideally, our readers will pass them along to the cyclists they care about.