Cyclists and Boarders Know! Cardoors are a Deathtraps! When you hear a "Click" get out of the way fast! Watch Out! Always look inside parked cars as you pass! Look for faces in the side mirrors! Assume every door you pass will suddenly be thrown open! Taxi cab passengers are the worst! Be extra careful around taxis! Take the Lane! Keep riding! Don't be afraid, be aware! We pay taxes and have the same rights to operate on the streets! Don't give up the fight! You car drivers out there Remember to check your mirrors! Then check again just before you open your door! Cyclists and Boarders can appear faster than you might think! Always assume a cyclists or boarder is about to pass your door! Lets work together! Share the streets! We can prevent these types of accidents! An injury to one is an injury to all!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Barry Spencer, Berkeley, CA

The Dooring

I've cycled for 40 years, raced, never owned a car, rarely drive, yet have only been doored once. In 1994 or thereabouts I was heading North on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, having just crossed Ashby Avenue, when I ogled a woman walking on the sidewalk. A man opened his car door, I tried to swerve around it, but my ogling had cost me precious tenths of a second, and the door caught the end of my handlebar. I was pitched forward, and my foot got hooked onto the frame of my bicycle somehow, and while I flew through the air some torque was applied to my knee. This was painful, because I had dislocated that knee several times in the past, the latest time only about two years earlier, and the knee has some torn ligaments. Then I hit the asphalt. I couldn't get up and off the street because I was busy writhing in pain, but a police officer, along with the man who had doored me, helped me to the sidewalk. The lady police officer asked me questions about my health, which I could not answer because of the severe pain. But soon the pain subsided. I was not injured. The funny part was when the woman I had been ogling came along and stepped over me as she continued on her way. I thought it was funny, anyway. The man who doored me owned the restaurant he was parked in front of. He was apologetic and offered to buy me a new bike. I told him that was unnecessary. He may have worried I might sue him. He offered that I may have run into his car, as there was a scratch on the side of his car behind the driver side door. I just said, "Nah." This was wishful thinking on his part; he was casting about for some way he would not be responsible for the accident. The bicycle I was riding at the time was an old mountain bike with very wide handlebars. If the handlebars had been a more normal width I would have eluded the door. I went home and sawed about four inches off both ends of the handlebars. The bike had a very long wheelbase, too, which may have contributed to my failure to avoid the door. That particular block of Shattuck Avenue is dangerous for bicycles. It's busy, fast and narrow; there's not enough room to stay a safe distance from parked cars.

--Barry Spencer

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