We all know how to handle a fender-bender. You pull over and exchange contact information and insurance details. But for cyclists, the post-accident protocol can be less clear. Often times, neither the driver, the cyclist, nor even police are aware of what laws govern the crash or how to proceed in terms of insurance claims. It can get messy, and add to the already simmering acrimony between bikers and drivers.
“I had so many people coming to me with the same story,” says Josh Zisson, a Boston-based lawyer specializing in bike law. “I was doored on my bike, but the cop told the driver to leave because it was my fault for riding too close to the cars. I never got the driver’s info.”
Cyclists may not know their local bike laws or what to do after an accident. To help solve that problem, Zisson enlisted his friend Tim Jacques, a graphic designer, to create the Bicyclist’s Accident Report card.
Zisson’s card includes spaces to record the driver’s information, as well as witness reports and the time and location of the accident. “I made it very simple. Just fill in the blanks,” he says. It also includes a simple visual guide to Massachusetts bike law and--in a bit of self-promotion--Zisson’s own contact information.
Zisson first distributed the cards in local bike shops but found that cafés and bookstores went through them much more quickly. “So far, I’ve gone through over 3,000 cards in about a month.”
He’s had “about two or three” calls from cyclists who’ve used the cards after accidents in Massachusetts. There’s also been lots of interest from cyclists in other parts of the country. In response to that demand, Zisson is looking for partners to help him print up custom versions of his card for each state. He’s already got a California card done and is working on one for Portland, Oregon.
And Zisson plans to keep his own phone number and email address on all the cards so he can help cyclists avoid another pitfall: shoddy representation. “I want to sort of act as a clearinghouse for bike accidents, so that I can send people to lawyers who actually know what they’re doing.”