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If Biking to Work Goes Bad

When I first moved with my husband to Eastlake, he rode his bike downtown to work every day, rain or shine. Perhaps you know the route, a fairly low-key, even pretty, ride along Fairview Avenue to Boren and Stewart Streets--but when he got closer to the Pike/Pine corridor, the traffic picked up. So, too, did people running red lights, turning when the crosswalk sign lit up, and cutting off other drivers--as well as bike riders. On more than one occasion he came home telling me how he'd had to pound on the hood of a car to alert the driver to his presence, how he'd almost gotten run off the road.

When we moved south to Columbia City and his route included a large section of busy Rainier Avenue S., I worried even more. The ride had increased from 2.3 miles to 5.8, which meant a little more daily exercise (good) but a higher chance of a collision with a car (terrifying). After several rides, he switched to taking the light rail, and five years later, that's become his daily ride to work. I breathed a sigh of relief when he made the switch, but I know he misses the freedom and the exercise the biking offered.

I was never a bike commuter, but I learned from my husband's experience how incautious drivers can be and how inconsiderate of the needs of cyclists. The freedom and exercise of it, though, is wonderful--so, cyclists who persist in their more environmentally-friendly commute need to build in a little extra caution of their own to compensate for what drivers lack.

What should I do in the case of a bike accident?

The steps you take in the immediate aftermath of a bike crash can have a significant impact on mitigating serious injuries.

One of the first things you should do after a bike crash, according to bicycling.com, is check your helmet for signs of damage. Any cracks or visible damage suggest that your head took a serious hit. Even if you think you're okay, you should still seek prompt medical attention.

Similarly, take a deep breath and see if it hurts to do so. If so, you may have broken a rib, or you may have had a rib puncture your lungs. Struggling at all to breathe after a crash means you should seek treatment.

It is also a good idea to feel around your abdominal area for any aches or pains following a bike crash. If it hurts when you press anywhere on this area, this could be an indication of internal bleeding, so again, seek immediate medical attention.

Neck and back injuries, too, often arise due to bicycle crashes. If you experience a tingling sensation or numbness when you try to wiggle your fingers and toes, you could potentially have sustained a back, neck or spinal cord injury.

I always feel thankful that my husband didn't have any serious encounters with cars when he was riding to work. If your commute is ever less fortunate, taking these self-assessment steps will give you a better chance of recovering quickly and well.

 

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