Crushed bike helmet photo from

Last night, a helmet I loaned to a new bicycling friend who was visiting the Elmira/Corning area saved his life.  No exaggeration.  I really think this helmet saved his life.

My crushed and bloody helmet died to save a life.

This true story has very important safety lessons for all cyclists.  I urge you to follow along for two important safety tips ALL cyclists should follow.

The night began innocently enough…..

As is our Tuesday and Thursday custom, our local cycling friends gather at Kingsbury’s Cyclery, Elmira, NY for a group ride.  This was an especially festive night because there were two brand new tandems out for their first group ride so there was a champagne “blessing of the fleet” by Paul Kingsbury, our local bike shop owner.  There was a new face in the crowd, a fellow named Matt who was from Georgia but in the area for a couple weeks on a work assignment.  Matt didn’t have a helmet so I loaned him my extra helmet.  Little did I know that this simple loan would serve such an important role.

Spirits were high as we rode out to Lattabrook Road for a brisk 2 mile climb before descending to a beautiful set of rolling hills through Breesport and North Chemung.  With a ripping tailwind, the large group of riders started to splinter into smaller groups as the hills took their toll on tired legs.  I was in a front group so I didn’t personally see what happened behind me but apparently Matt was riding alone between the front group and a second group when he somehow lost control of his bike and crashed hard onto the road.  As the second group approached, Matt was unconscious in the middle of the road.  The other riders quickly rendered aid to Matt as he floated in and out of consciousness.  911 was called and an ambulance soon arrived.

But there was a BIG PROBLEM…..

No one knew Matt’s last name…..  No one knew if he had any allergies or medical issues…..  No one knew an emergency # for Matt…….

Matt was whisked away to the hospital while we all racked our brains to figure out how to help.  Someone remembered Matt’s last name was on a decal on his bike.  I remembered that Matt told me he worked for Corning, Inc. and rode bikes with another cyclist I knew.  I emailed that cyclist while one of our bike riding friends who is a police officer called Corning, Inc. Security to alert them one of their employees was injured.  Slowly but surely we learned the information necessary to alert Matt’s wife.

So this unfortunate bike accident teaches at least TWO IMPORTANT SAFETY LESSONS FOR ALL BICYCLISTS:


As to the ID, there are lots of great ways to carry an ID:

  • Wear a RoadID– check them out at
  • Make your own ID.  Put all your relevant contact and medical info on a small card, laminate it, and carry it in your pocket.  Be smart like my buddy Paul Kingsbury and tie a bright ribbon to your ID and let that ribbon dangle out of your jersey pocket so hopefully medical personnel or your friends will be able to easily find it.
  • Carry your cellphone and put an ICE (in case of emergency # in your Contacts).  On my iPhone, I use an app called CloseCall that lets you save an emergency # to your startup screen.

I hope this sad bike accident is a reminder to all of us to be safe when out riding our bikes……

Thanks, Jim
PS  Thankfully, it appears that Matt will be OK.  He suffered a broken facial bone, a concussion and nasty road rash.  So glad he was wearing a helmet or this story might have ended much more sadly……..
James B. Reed
NY & PA Bicycle Accident Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)