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hitting car doors(21 posts)

hitting car doorsmk_42
May 30, 2001 2:22 PM
The discussion below about hitting pedestrians got me thinking about car doors. I have never hit one but I have a serious (irrational?) fear of doing so. Whenever I'm riding and I see a long row of parked cars on a straight in front of me I shudder...
I've heard that car doors are a bike messenger's worst enemy. Has anyone hit one? Is it not a matter of if, but when?

re: hitting car doorsMrCelloBoy
May 30, 2001 2:28 PM
I got clipped by one once as my rear wheel passed the door. I lost my balance and fell to the ground. Some small scratches and luckily no cars were there to hit me. Legally we're entitled to take the lane if hazards exist such as car doors about to open. My sweetie and I usually move to the center of the lane under these conditions.
similar with diagonal/parallel parking areas where cars can back out unexpectedly.
re: hitting car doorsCA
May 30, 2001 2:59 PM
I was riding with a buddy three years ago when I met my first car door. We were riding down a side street at about 16mph or so when a flung open right in front of me. I had less than a second to react with no time to swerve out of the way so I jumped forward and grabbed on to the door with my face pressed flat against the window. Well needless to say I had pretty good momentum going and the door bent waaay out on it's hinges. Finally the forward momentun went to zero and now it was the doors turn and it flung me and the the bike(I'm still clipped in) back in the car literaly. My back wheel was wedged back between the drivers seat and the door and my brake lever was embedded in the doors armrest.

The lady driving the car FREAKED OUT because all she did was open her car door (without looking in the rearview mirror) and BOOM!!!! now she has bike and a guy in lycra in her front lap.

After what seemed like an hour of staring at each other in horror ( oh yeah I FREAKED OUT to) we asked if we were okay and we said yes. I was very thankful she did'nt have a heart attack. I did'nt get a scratch and I know if I did'nt jump for that door I would have been very injured.

Oh yeah I always look now if there is someone in a car that I am passing

A friend didmike mcmahon
May 30, 2001 3:03 PM
I recently posted about my Monday morning ride in which I had three near-misses with doors. I've never been hit by a car door but a friend of mine got taken down hard on a morning ride in Venice, CA by a woman who flung her door wide open. My buddy was probably doing about 23-25 when his shoulder hit the door. He broke his shoulder pretty badly and was off the bike for quite a long time. He said the pain was excruciating. Fear of car doors is not irrational; it's a healthy survival instinct.
re: hitting car doorsHMS
May 30, 2001 3:05 PM
Your fear is not irrational. I hit a car door when I was a teenager (i.e., the driver flung open the door and I hit the inside of the it) -- both the driver and I were stunned, but uninjured. My guess is that if I had the same accident today (I'm 42), I would have felt a lot worse from the impact. About six months ago I came within three or four inches of a repeat performance. Sometimes it is impossible not to get close to parked cars, but you should try your best to ride at least a car door's length away from parked cars.
re: hitting car doorssidley
May 30, 2001 4:01 PM
I have never been doored on a bike but my finace was doored by a taxi fare 3 years ago. She was only going about 5 mph but she took the impact on her left shoulder, causing pretty serious sprain that plagues her still.
I was doored once while driving my SUV. While it has nothing to do with biking, it was pretty cool to see that guy's door bent the wrong way. Mind you, a court already determined that it was the other guy's fault.
it happened to me as a messenger...2cheap
May 30, 2001 5:10 PM
I paritally paid my way through undergrad as a bike messenger in D.C. One day I was riding up Wisconsin Ave. on a delivery and a guy in a Civic opened his door and wham! My bike slammed against the opened door and I went flying over it. I landed on all fours. Fortunately, the street I was riding is uphill so I wasn't going that fast. Since I was out of the saddle I avoided smashing my face against the door (and saved some teeth!). The kicker was that the guy had diplomatic plates so I knew that the police would probably not cite him and merely tell me to watch out. I don't know if your fear is irrational, but hitting an open car door can do serious damage to your bike, not to mention your body. A good rule of thumb is to look out for passengers who may open doors. If you just keep your eyes on the doors, it may be too late if one opens right in front of you. Sorry to babble on, but your post brought back some old messengering memories...good luck!
May 30, 2001 8:23 PM
i was blasting down a busy road and a woman in a parked door opened her driver-side door right in front of me. i flipped over her door and skidded on my back and shoulder for a while. i jumped up with a huge adrenaline rush to see her shuddering and quite pale. i walked her to the curb where she at down and began to collect herself. my beater bike was ok, i was ok, and she finally recovered. i now look at parked cars to see if there is a driver inside who might suddenly open the door in front of me.
re: hitting car doorsJose
May 31, 2001 12:52 AM
Yup, after five years of downtown San Francisco commuting, I've had a few close calls, I finally got doored last month. I usually keep alert for cars parked along the curb. But last month, it was a taxi that nailed me. It passed me, slowed then stopped without pulling over to the curb and his fare opened her door just as I was passing by. I was probably doing 10-15mph when the door clipped my handlebar and sent my bike down. I managed to clip out and land at a full jog while trying not to trip over my bike.

Nowadays, I keep an eye out for cars on either side of me.
re: hitting car doorsJz
May 31, 2001 3:52 AM
Hmm, it seems funny not to check rearview mirror before opening door...not particularly for bikes, but for that pesky traffic that tends to be coming down the road. I guess people like me who do a lot of driving/parking on downtown streets are a little more aware of this kind of stuff...because as you can tell from these messages it is obvious it is not common sense to everyone:>
Thought the same thingmike mcmahon
May 31, 2001 6:52 AM
On a busy road, doesn't a motorist want to be sure (if nothing else) that his/her car door isn't ripped off by another speeding auto? I've also wondered whether it might help if motorists were required to approach their car from the front when it's parked next to a curb. Generally when a driver approaches the car from the front, he'll see approaching cyclists because he'll be walking toward approaching traffic. Most of the time I've had door problems with people entering cars is where they approach the car from the rear, without checking for any kind of vehicle traffic before opening the door. Just a thought.
Oh S**T, That was stupid.......Len J
May 31, 2001 7:07 AM
Haven't you ever done something where in the middle of it you think. "Oh S**T, that was stupid"

I was riding one day, late for dinner, getting ready to left turn across two lanes of traffic into a side street, Bus stopped in left lane facing me (Outside lane) with front of bus lined up with side street. Without thinking (Since bus is stopped) I speed in front of bus toward street. OOPS, forgot about inside lane, Shonuf theres a car speeding inside bus. Next thing I know I'm siiting in the gutter with the bike on top of me. All's I can think of is that that was the stupidist thing I had ever done. Poor guy that hits me only sees this guy fly out in front of him, fly through the air, end up in a heap, sitting in the gutter laughing. He's sure I hit my head, I'm laughing (at myself) so hard I can't tell him I'm OK. You get the picture.

Anyway, long winded way of showing that we all have brain F*rts occasionally. Someone said in an earlier post (about crazy drivers) that the best defense is being vigilant. Couldn't agree more.
Celebrity near-dooring incidentmike mcmahon
May 31, 2001 7:37 AM
Our entire morning training ride almost got taken out when "Big Game" James Worthy opened the door of his Mercedes right in front of us. We were doing about 25 when he let the door fly. He looked much more scared than we did. Oh, and he was dropping his kids off at school: surprise, surprise.
Done it three times ...Humma Hah
May 31, 2001 7:49 AM
... and all I can say is this is one area where a cruiser rules. First, I'm not going as fast (the thought of doing this at 25 mph makes me shudder -- its bad enough at 10-15). Second, the old Schwinn dishes out about as good as it gets. None of the three hits damaged the bike more than a scratch or two, but two of the cars had door damage.

The first two incidents happened in the late 60's. I started wearing polarized sunglasses to allow me to better see past the glare in rear windows, and watched for anyone in every parked car I was passing. This mostly fixed the problem.

But it happened again last year. The problem is worse today because all front car seats have headrests that obscure your view of the driver, and many have tinted rear windows. Now I watch for faces in the side-view mirror.

And you have to keep your speed down around parked cars -- sooner or later, in any urban or suburban environment, you're bound to be "doored". My worst so far injury has been an annoying shoulder bruise, but there is a risk of catching the sharp corner of the door with your head, or getting tossed to the pavement in front of another vehicle.
Legal Question.9WorCP
May 31, 2001 10:13 AM
Is it always the guy who opens the door's fault? What is the cyclists liability? Hopefully none. :)
Legal Question.128
May 31, 2001 10:59 AM
As I recall, there is some statutory authority in some jurisdictions which effectively makes exiting from the drivers door, when it's into the roadway, illegal. There may also be cycling statutes on point, i.e cyclists must obey rules of road/cyclists always have right of way. So there is a statutory enigma, as usual, to unwrangle, before you may get to a negligence analysis, i.e. rider or door opener may have acted without due care under the circumstances and thereby be at fault.
So no, i don't believe a door opener is always not/at fault, but the answer will depend on the existence of a statute on point and maybe a fault analysis in the absence of such a statutory framework.
The cyclists liability will depend, again, on the existence of a statute, and whether or he or she acted reasonably under the circumstances...
Legal Question.mike mcmahon
May 31, 2001 11:01 AM
I think in most jurisdictions, it would come down to a question of fact about who was at fault. Although I'd like to think that most juries would find a driver liable for suddenly opening a door without checking the sideview mirror first, my experience is that almost all jurors are motorists and the majority don't have any great love of cyclists. Of course, in most states potential jurors would be barred for cause if they admitted that they couldn't be impartial when it came to cyclists. But how many people will admit they can't be impartial, even under oath? From what I've heard motorcyclists and bicyclists, as a rule, don't fare well in court. Certainly, there are exceptions. If I had to bet the farm, I'd bet that most juries would do the right thing and find the car-door-opener liable. However, at least where I work, just about every case seems to be a crapshoot when you open it up to a jury.
Legal Question.Ted Packard
Jun 3, 2001 7:54 PM
This came up another Email list recently, The
answer is ( at least in Mass. )

1. According to 211 CMR 74.00: Standards of Fault (which is put out by the
Division of Insurance),

" (18) The operator of a vehicle subject to the Safe Driver Insurance Plan
shall be presumed to be more than 50% at fault when the vehicle's door or
doors are opened or opening resulting in a collision with another vehicle. "

I like thatmike mcmahon
Jun 3, 2001 8:02 PM
In most states, presumptions are hard to overcome. 50% fault on the driver is a good starting point. In most cases it will only go up from there.
maybe this is juvenille....peloton
May 31, 2001 10:22 AM
but I hope that if and when I ever get doored that I rip the thing off it f'ing hinges. Silly, isn't it?

I try to be careful around traffic by looking in the windows, and looking for a reflection of a person in the rearview and side mirrors. I'm also not shy about moving into the lane of traffic if I think there is a chance of a door swinging open. Most of the time that I am worried about doors swinging open is in sections of the road where you can keep up with traffic pretty well. I don't feel bad about being in the middle of the lane if I am staying right on the bumper of the car in front of me, and not slowing anyone down.
What about when....Cannon
May 31, 2001 9:30 PM
your flying down a country road (indiana)at about 22-25 mph and a side road comes into play and the motorist isn't smart enough to wait for you to get by the insection. I don't know how many times I have almost hit the back of cars trying to make a quick turn in front of me. Has this happened to anyone else?