I Need Your Advice! A Car Hit Me on My Bicycle. What Should I Do?

I'm OK, but my brand-new bike is not. Please tell me how you think I should handle the situation.
Publish date:
July 19, 2011
advice, cars, accident, public bikes, bicycles

OK guys. I need your help.

Last week, I was riding my brand new bike when I was rear-ended by a car. You can read the whole story here (including my famous last words right before the accident), but in short: I was at a complete stop at a red light when I was struck from behind. I flew off my bike and my bike slammed to the ground.

My brand new bike. (Have I mentioned that enough yet?) My bike I’d only ridden SEVEN times. My bike that cost $1,150. My bike that was a birthday present from my boyfriend. (Because, Lord knows, there’s no way in hell I’d ever buy myself such an expensive bicycle, even though it is the prettiest bike in the whole wide world.) My bike that I’d just worked up the nerve to start riding in the city (this was only my second time; everywhere else had been out in the country or on bike paths).

The impact and fall definitely aggravated an existing back injury and I have some scrapes and bruises, but I’m going to live. My poor bicycle, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite as well. And based on the driver’s admission, as well as the police report, the accident was 100 percent NOT my fault. (I don't know how it could be since, again, I was stopped at a red light and the car slammed into me from behind, but I just wanted to be super clear about that!)

All in all, the bike has about $200 of damages. Yes, that could be so much worse, and I credit the 31-pound steel frame for lessening both of our injuries. BUT: the bike was BRAND NEW! And now it’s not. The pedals, shifter and brake levers all have scratches on them. Not bad enough to replace them, but nonetheless, scratches that were not there before someone hit me with her car.

Even worse: The back rack and fender are completely totaled and will have to be replaced. But, since these bikes are so popular right now, I won’t be able to get a new fender for THREE MONTHS.

So what I want to know is: What would YOU do if you were in my situation? There’s a police report, so I can go through her insurance if I want. (At the time, I said I’d leave that up to her, but that’s obviously assuming she cooperates, which, to be fair, I think she will, since I was literally hit by the nicest woman in all of America. I mean, she offered to loan me her extra bike until mine could be fixed.)

What I *want* is a new bike. I feel like it’s just not fair that my bike will never be the same after the accident. And I especially feel like it’s not cool that, either way, I’m going to have to wait until November to get the new fender. So I would like to offer her this:

“You buy me a new bike and I will give you my bike in its existing condition. Fix it or don’t. Sell it or keep it. Up to you.”

I think it's pretty fair since she could probably get the bike fixed and sell it for $800. But who knows if she’ll take that deal. It’s certainly a huge hassle for her, if she does, but in the meantime, it’s a huge hassle for me. (I’m a contract employee, so every time I have to leave work to go deal with the bike, I’m not getting paid.) Not to mention just the time and energy and stress of dealing with all of this. Not to mention not having a bike or having to ride a bike that isn't in perfect condition.

Do you think that offer is reasonable? Or should I just suck it up and ask her for the $200 and ride a damaged bike for the next three months? Is there another solution that you think works better?

Please please please let me know in the comments. I’m really bad with confrontation, but at the same time, I also think it’s unfair that I should be put out over someone else’s recklessness. But maybe I’m just being a spoiled brat and I should suck it up. Life’s not fair and all that. I don’t know. You tell me.

And here's hoping that, whatever the outcome is, I'm not too scared to get back on the bike.

Thanks for your help. You guys are the best.