Personal injury lawyers see a lot of…you guessed it, personal injuries. Helping injured people recover the money that they need can make for very fulfilling work. However, constantly bearing witness to the wreckage wrought by negligent drivers and inadequate cycling infrastructure can take an emotional toll. It is worth having a conversation, not only about medical and financial recovery, but about injury avoidance as well.
The best way to reduce the number of cycling injuries would be to improve driver behaviour. But, because there is not much we can do to accomplish that goal in the short term, this post will draw on my experience regarding the most common cycling injuries, and what cyclists can do to avoid them.
- Head injuries. Head injuries are common and they are tragic. Wear a helmet!
- Road rash. Road rash is not an itchy spot on your skin. It occurs when the asphalt rips the skin from the body, often requiring skin grafts and plastic surgery. Pants and sleeves can literally save your skin. Even extremely light quick-dry clothes can save your skin from being scraped along the pavement in case of an accident. Consider investing in some clothes that provide coverage to your legs and arms, the most common areas affected by road rash.
- Broken arms/wrists/hands/shoulders. When cyclists go head over heels (or ass over handlebars) it often results in fractures to the arm or shoulder. The most common culprits for these kinds of injuries – in my experience – are street car tracks, pot holes or right turning drivers. When crossing street car tracks, do so perpendicularly. When traversing pot holes, try to anticipate them and slow down (when possible). As for right turning drivers, proceed with extreme caution. Even though they should be looking out for you, they often are not.
- Hip and leg fractures. Most of the hip and leg fractures I see have been caused by dooring. When a cyclist is doored it often pushes them into lanes of car/truck/bus traffic. This situation can lead to horrific lower body injuries. One way to anticipate dooring is to check the drivers’ side mirror of parked cars as you pass them. While it is certainly easier said than done, this practice helps alert you if there is a driver about to open their door in your path.