A “Dooring” Retold

Posted: 18 January 2012 in Riding

door (v.tr.) \ˈdȯr\

definition: the act of opening a car door and striking a passing bicycle rider

Example: After parking, the motorist failed to scan the street before opening his car door and doored a bicycle rider who was passing his car.

While the above definition cannot be found in any dictionary that I am aware of, it is a term that is known by and and instills great fear in any urban bicyclist.  Exact statistics on the number of doorings that occur locally or nationally are not available because they either go unreported or are reported simply as bike/car accidents (or just bike accidents).  The following is the recounting of a dooring that occurred locally as told by “J”–a resident of our town who was doored.

Interviewer (I): Walk me through when it happened, where it happened and then we can get into the details of how it happened.

J: I was talking to my girlfriend on the sidewalk and I had just told her that I loved her and “see you later” and I started down the street and someone who had been sitting there for quite a while all of a sudden opened up their door.

I: And where was it and when was it?

J: It was in April of 2011 and it was in broad daylight.

I: So the car that opened the door was parked by the side of the road.

J: Uh huh…

I: Was there a sidewalk that the car was parked?

J: Yes, it was parked in front of a house that’s got a pretty good sized width sidewalk.

I: Was there a marked bike lane there?

J: Two traffic lanes but no marked bicycle lane.

I: Talk to me about where you were riding in relation to the car of the door that hit you and why you were riding in that position–that space.

J: There was traffic to the left of me and I was riding along and I had already passed the bumper of the car when the door started to open in front of me.  So, there was no chance or time to react except for to put my hand up and catch the door.

I: So walk through that. So when the door opened what happened?

J: I caught the car door and got a compound fracture in my right forefinger.  I slowed myself down.  The bicycle got catapulted into the middle of the street and I continued over top of the door and then went down on the asphalt and got a broken humerus, exploded my elbow and bumped my head…

As I put my hand out to catch the door all of a sudden it just stopped… and it gave me a laceration of my liver and when I hit the pavement I got a compound fracture of my humerus, exploded my elbow and cracked a tooth… The laceration of the liver occurred when the door stopped swinging…

I: When you say the bike got catapulted out what do you mean by that?

J: It knocked the bicycle out of the path that it was traveling and catapulted it into the street.

I: Then what happened?

J: I tried to stand up, noticed the broken arm and put pressure on my head because I thought my skull was cracked. And the compound fracture on my forefinger was squirting and I thought I wasn’t gonna make it. Ninety percent of all head injury cases are fatal.

I: It turns out you did not have a serious head injury.  The blood off you head was from your finger.

J: I had a serious concussion.

I: Did the police come? Did the ambulance come?  Who came?

J: The fire department showed up and transported me to the hospital.

I: And what about the police?  Did the police come and interview you about the event?  Did you talk to the police?

J: Yea, but the police told the people in the car that as far as they were concerned I rode my bike up the stairs and rode down and crashed into their car.  That I crashed into their car.  They didn’t even file a police report just an incident report. They should have done a traffic report bicycle versus car but they just wrote it up as an incident–just me just falling off my bicycle.

I: So as far as you know the driver of the car was never charged with anything.

J: No.

I: How long were you in the hospital?

J: Several weeks.

I: Are currently having any therapy related to the injuries?

J: Yea, umm, my elbow has plates and screws and I am supposed to have physical therapy for a year for the elbow and the finger.

I: Do you still ride your bike?

J: Yea

I: Do you find yourself riding it any differently now as a result of what happened there?

J: No.  There’s nothing… If it happened again it would probably be the same scenario because when there’s traffic to the left of you you have to get a little close to the car sometimes.

Note: There is quite a bit to learn from this incident in terms of how one might avoid such situations, what car drivers could do differently, how such incidents are reported and, most strikingly, the danger it represents.  If “J’s” experience is any indication, the number of “doorings” may be underreported.  Even if they are not, they do occur and their effects can be devastating.

Follow this link to watch a video of a “dooring” caught live on camera.  CAUTION: while brief, the video is quite disturbing: http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2011/09/22/dooring-caught-on-dashcam/


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