The Chainlink

On my way back to the office today I saw a cyclist who had recently been hit by a vehicle. He was on the ground, on his back, rolling back and forth, clearly in a great deal of pain. His bike was a mangled mess from the seat tube back. Several cars had stopped already, I saw a person on a cell phone. I desperately wanted to stop and help. But, not having medical training and seeing other cars that had stopped, I continued on. As I drove, I frantically searched my car for anything- a blanket, something soft for his head, any excuse to go back and do something...anything. Back at work, I located the 24hr news alert email address of a television station and sent a message about the incident.

Now I find myself with an awful feeling. I've been run over by a truck before, so I empathize with the pain he must feel. As someone who rides the same road where this took place, I feel a bit sick.

So, what would/should/have you do/done in a situation like this?

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The times I have rode up to a injured cyclist, several items should get done quickly. Get traffic stopped so he or she does not get hit, call 911. Ask them to stay still and keep them calm until medics and police arrive. See if they have a RoadId so you can call and let the family know what has happened. If a motorist is involved, get the License plate, and make of vehicle, make sure they stay at the scene. Secure the damaged bike and take photos of the injuried person, bike, involed cars, etc. This becomes crucial after the first couple of minutes since people will start moving things around. Do not feel too bad Jakob, it sounds like people were starting to help. Still call 911 though. Some people do not always call, since they are not wanting to get involed or think some one else did call. Good to get schooled in first aid\cpr also. Carry a camera if your phone does not have one. Also carry a traffic vest and flashlight in car with you. If you do have to go in the road to help you want to make sure you will be seen and not hit. I keep a ANSI class 3 vest. I was forced to use it this summer when I came on to an accident scene. Several people on bikes were bar hopping and had a accident with a parked car. Most were intoxicated, none had on helmets. She was banged up bad. She kept going in and out of being awake. No one had called 911. I called, got my vest on. The police arrrived first, than the medics. Traffic wizzed by even after they could see someone laying on the ground. Later I found out she had sustained massive had tramma and dislocated her shoulder. The back windsheild she hit and bounced off of. The medics liked the fact that I made their job easier by doing all of the items I mention above. Only bad thing was her boyfriend was pretty much useless to help since he was so drunk. The police drove him home.
where (in the city) can you get CPR training? How much does this run?
Jim- that's some situation you were presented with. Good thing you were in a position to help. Though the training I received is minimal, I certainly feel able to assist in some capacity now. And many of the points those on Chainlink have conveyed have helped equally as much.

Davo- Check this link: or simply go to to get started.

Jen - This is a very good tip and I would like to bump up this thread to try to reach out to the fellow

(male) cyclist who did exactly that (took care of my bike as I was taken away in am ambulance following

an accident in which a car hit me).


I was hit buy a car one month ago today (August 29th 2012) at the intersection of Halsted and Chicago

(I was going northbound on Halsted) around 4:25 pm. You were the bike behind me as we waited  at the red light and assisted me while I was laying in the street immediately folllowing the accident. You asked if there was any way you could help me : and I replied Yes; could you please take my bike (and lock and key) to  REI just up the street on Halstead before North Avenue. I retrieved the bike 3 days later. I want to thank you very much for this help. I would also like to ask a couple of questions. if you could contact

me here (send a private message on the chainlink) or call text me at 312 351 4052; thanks very much.


Dan Brown


y a j said:

I think one thing we can do for a downed cyclist is take care of their bike. All the other folks on the scene might not think of it, but as cyclists, we know how important our bikes are to us. If that rider went away in an ambulance, what happened to their bike?
That's what I did over the summer when I found a rider down. While we were waiting for the ambulance I took his key, carried his bike to the side of the road and locked it up. I wrote him a note re: where his bike was locked & put the note & his keys back in his bag. He's was pretty out of it the whole time & it was all taken care of before the ambulance took him away.
iggi makes a good point too. I wasn't in a car, so I wasn't adding to a gaperblock while I was doing this.

There are a few things on scene that should happen and if you are able to help ensure that they do - it can make a huge difference for the crash victim.


  1. Call 911; request an ambulance if you are at all concerned that they may be injured- requesting an ambulance also tends to get police and emergency personnel on the scene faster.
  2. Make sure the police show up and file a police report. If the cyclist has been taken to the hospital already- it might be important to make sure the police goes to the hospital and gets the narrative account from the cyclist. (they should do this....but sometimes they finish the report before going to the hospital)
  3. Lock up their bike - EVEN if it's mangled. They will need the proof down the line if there is an insurance claim.
  4. Get names and contact info of witnesses (the police reports don't always list all of the witnesses)
  5. Take pictures. Pictures at the scene can be extremely helpful down the road, especially if you have pictures of the victims injuries on site or the state of the car, bike, etc.
  6. Encourage the cyclist to call the Active Trans Crash Support Hotline - 312.869.4357 (HELP). We have trained volunteers that are available to walk people through the next steps after a crash and can bridge them with important resources. (Save this number in your phone RIGHT NOW!)

If you've ever been in a crash - you know how disorienting, scary and confusing it can be. It's extremely helpful to have someone to help you in this time, even if they aren't a witness. Just to have someone (who isn't the guy that just doored you) to talk to you and keep you calm can make a huge difference.

Rebecca Resman

Director of Membership and Development

Active Transportation Alliance

I was hit by a car crossing the road on the LFP at the totem pole. The Passersby were great some stayed till the police came and gave their reports. I decided to take the ambulance to the hospital (I was alright but it cost me 800 for the ride, covered by the settlement).  The Fire Department took the bike to the station across from Wrigley.  When I showed up to pick it up that night they said it didn't look totaled enough (it was) and offered to drive over it with the truck (I laughed and declined).

Rebecca - Thank you for re-posting this. 
Speaking from experience, I can tell all of you that even if you are familiar with what you should do after an accident, your brain in shock following an accident may not be a rational brain.  If someone other than the guy who doored you can help, it can make a big difference - helping you regain focus, get help if it's needed, taking care of your bike, calling 911 and your emergency contact, giving a witness statement to police, etc.

A good witness statement can make a difference.  Sometimes the police officer taking the report may write it in such a way that it favors the driver, even if the driver is at fault in the crash.  Getting contact info and statements from witnesses can help you in the long run if there are any significant injuries.

I've been on both sides - needing assistance after a crash and helping someone else.  If the person who offers to help can take photos of your injuries, the crash scene, your damaged bike, etc., it can help in your insurance claim or lawsuit (if it comes to that).  A destroyed bike can be evidence, which may go missing if someone doesn't secure it.

All the details that Rebecca mentioned can make a difference.

It also depends upon who you are.   My wife is a trained first responder.  If she sees any accident, she believes she is on a moral obligation to help.  If we are in the Car (yes...  I do drive a car as well... so sue me...) I will offer to but the Bike up on my rack and take it somewhere safe and hold it for them.   Getting trained is a good idea.  


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