You get into a scrape with a motor vehicle. Maybe there’s some damage, maybe not. Do you call the police?
Long story -> short: I usually don’t even bother anymore. More below the photo…
Tuscon Bike Lawyer writes about the typical cyclist experience following a bike vs car collision:
A cyclist gets hit by a car, and is lying in the pavement dazed. Assuming the cyclist is not suffering a serious injury, the officer will then try to determine fault. As I have written many times before, “carhead” tends to point toward the cyclist being at fault.
If the officer determines the cyclist was at fault, he will then often give the cyclist a choice: you can leave here and forget about all this, or you can stay and get a ticket. Which do you pick?
I’ve never been threatened with a ticket, but the first time I called the police, the motorist was very clearly at fault: she completely blew through a stop sign without slowing; I escaped with my life because I did an emergency swerve but I still got a glancing blow and a damaged bike.
I was riding completely legally on a residential street with almost no traffic, but witnesses and the responding police officer all lectured me about my bike riding, and the cop made it very clear that my call was a huge imposition of his time.
This was in 1987. In the three times I’ve been hit by a car since then, I only called the police on my latest incident, but that was a hit and run and I hoped the driver would get caught. I know the advice to call the police — I even give that advice here — but like cycling attorney Erik Ryberg observes, “I don’t care how many times you have read this and other bike safety blogs, if it happens to you, you are not going to be thinking clearly.”
Law enforcement’s reticence prompted Colorado cyclist advocates to lobby for a law requiring law enforcement agencies to take bicycle accident reports.
What do you do when a car scrapes up against you? Do you file the police report? Or do you usually let it slide? And what does this underreporting do for bicycle crash statistics?
Photo: Delta Mike.