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Old 08-06-05, 02:50 PM   #1
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Thursday night I picked up my wife from her office in Alexandria for dinner in Old Town. I was on a two lane oneway street, stopped at a two-way stop at another oneway street, looked, proceeded and pulled into the first parking space on the right, which happened to be empty. Stopped the car, checked my side mirror for cars and bikes, and started to open the door. I stop the door at few inches open and a bike blows by a few inches past that. He wasn't there the moment before when I checked the mirror and he hadn't been on the oneway. Looks like he came through the interesection from the far side of the cross street, blew the stop sign (based on his speed), turned left and swung across two lanes to ride in the door zone on the right side, next to where I had just parked. My checking the mirror had done no good, since he was coming in straight along my blind spot.

Luckily I'm in the habit of not swinging the door open all the way, but opening it a few inches so I can check the mirror again at a different angle and let anyone behind me know the door is about to open. That pause saved both of us. I would have felt terrible if I had doored a fellow cyclists. And I probably would have been blamed even though I had tried to do everything right and he had done almost everything wrong.

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Old 08-06-05, 02:52 PM   #2
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If a cyclist messed up my door, there would be hell to pay! damn cyclists have got to learn how to obey the rules of the road once in awhile
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Old 08-06-05, 03:57 PM   #3
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The problem is if you hit him, you'd be the one getting ticketed even though in this case it was the cyclists fault for being an idiot that led him into that situation.
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Old 08-06-05, 04:31 PM   #4
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Your door almost got biked!
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Old 08-06-05, 10:30 PM   #5
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The problem is if you hit him, you'd be the one getting ticketed even though in this case it was the cyclists fault for being an idiot that led him into that situation.
In Virginia, the hitter is automatically at fault which in this case is the cyclist, unless there are circumstances that prove that the collision couldn't be avoided. Then it would be called a draw. Rarely is the blame shifted to the hittee, although he would be cited for anything he did to contribute to the accident.

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Old 08-06-05, 10:47 PM   #6
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CCRider

Off topic, but I grew up in Pine Springs, an enclave within Falls Church. Learned to ride a bike there too, right in the cul de sac at the end of Pine Springs Road.

Just wanted to say hi. When I chose the house that my family and I now live in, it was because it had a blue front door, just like my house in Pine Springs. Oh, and there were two movie theaters, the State and the Jefferson.

Went back for a visit in the early '80's and, man, everything had changed so much. Back then, there was one supermarket down the highway and one mom and pop type market and pretty much nothing else, just woods and houses.

Last edited by KeithA; 08-06-05 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 08-06-05, 10:59 PM   #7
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In Oregon, to the best of my knowledge, it is the driver's responsibility not to open his door into the lane when a car/truck/bike/skateboarder would hit it.
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Old 08-07-05, 01:01 PM   #8
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CCRider

Off topic, but I grew up in Pine Springs, an enclave within Falls Church. Learned to ride a bike there too, right in the cul de sac at the end of Pine Springs Road.

Just wanted to say hi. When I chose the house that my family and I now live in, it was because it had a blue front door, just like my house in Pine Springs. Oh, and there were two movie theaters, the State and the Jefferson.

Went back for a visit in the early '80's and, man, everything had changed so much. Back then, there was one supermarket down the highway and one mom and pop type market and pretty much nothing else, just woods and houses.
What a coincedence. I've lived one street over from Pine Springs for 20 years, in Tremont Gardens. Less than a dozen houses from your old cul-de-sac. Often use Pine Springs and Woodberry to bike home.

It's changed a lot since the early 80's too. Unfortunally several of the original Pine Springs houses have been torn down and replaced by the usual, ugly colonial. Mostly at the Arlington Blvd or Lee Highway ends of the neighborhood.

The State theater was vacant for 15 years and reopened as a live music dinner club a few years ago. The Jefferson is now a Chilies restaurant. The theater at Loehman's Plaza now shows only Indian films.

If you ever feel nostalgic, I can take some digital photos and email them to you. Just ask.

Back on topic - Yes, in Virginia the assumption would be that the person opening the door into traffic was at fault. If there was a eyewitness to the cyclist's actions, the best I could hope for would be to get off with a reprimand, but that wouldn't make me feel any better about dooring someone.

The lessons from this:
- An accident can happen from any direction at any time, and there may be little you can do about it.
- It is not automatically the car driver's fault. Sometimes the cyclists has at least a partial responsibility.
- Cyclists, try to stay out of the door zone.
- Drivers, check and double check. (Triple checking is probably to much to ask.)

Last edited by cc_rider; 08-07-05 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 08-07-05, 01:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tabor
In Oregon, to the best of my knowledge, it is the driver's responsibility not to open his door into the lane when a car/truck/bike/skateboarder would hit it.
So, if you park on the side of the road you can't open your door? Better have a sunroof! If there was no car/truck/bike/skateboarder there when he looked twice, how could he be responsible for the guy on the bike whipping by dangerously?
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Old 08-07-05, 02:34 PM   #10
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CC,
Wow!!! The Jefferson now a Chilies. That's where I used to watch all those old Vincent Price movies in the days when admission and a bag of popcorn cost 50 cents total. Oh well, I can't blame it for changing. A very nice area and a lot of people would want to live in a place like that. Thanks for sharing with me how things are over in your neck of the woods.
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Old 08-07-05, 05:15 PM   #11
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Any time.
A multiplex opened up where the drive-in in Merrifield used to be, but that's considered old. Bigger and fancier theaters are all over, but I like the little ones at Univeristy Mall in Fairfax, near GMU.
Merrifield is getting a big makeover. Two hotels opened and a third one coming. Several new restaurants other than fast food. And, can you believe it, they are getting a "town center".

Out of curiosity, where you at now?
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Old 08-07-05, 05:28 PM   #12
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I live in a town called Elk Grove in Northern California. Strange thing is that I moved here to get out of the L.A. area about twenty years ago...to that missed small town feel. When I got here, there was only one traffic light in all of Elk Grove. Now, it's listed as one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. The population has increased at least 10 fold since I moved in. Still, the good thing is that most of the people remain nice. When I bike, I'm usually greeting with a lot of smiling faces and greetings along the way. However, that, unfortunately will probably slowly change.

On the good side, last summer, my wife and I purchased a lot by the beach in Northern Washington. So, maybe, down the line...
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Old 08-07-05, 05:56 PM   #13
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....one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.....
Yep. That's what happening in Loudon County and Prince William. The nice country roads filling up with subdivisions and traffic. Eastern Loudon is one big suburb. End of the month is the Reston Century, so I'll get to see what farms and woods have disappeared since last year.
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Old 08-07-05, 10:41 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by mirona
So, if you park on the side of the road you can't open your door? Better have a sunroof! If there was no car/truck/bike/skateboarder there when he looked twice, how could he be responsible for the guy on the bike whipping by dangerously?
Are you serious? This is like saying, I checked my mirror twice, then pulled into traffic. It's not MY fault I hit a cyclist.
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Old 08-08-05, 05:22 PM   #15
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Are you serious? This is like saying, I checked my mirror twice, then pulled into traffic. It's not MY fault I hit a cyclist.
Every cyclist should know better than to ride in the door zone. There is something wrong with a world where we do not all know that. Here is the rule:

Don't ride in the door zone. If you do, accept responsibility for your "accident".
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Old 08-08-05, 06:41 PM   #16
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If you do, accept responsibility for your "accident".
Hey, I don't ride in the door zone. However, if I were to open my car door into a cyclist, I would accept responsibility for the crash. ESPECIALLY if the door zone was conspicuously marked as a bicycle lane (as it often is where I live).
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Old 08-08-05, 06:51 PM   #17
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Hey, I don't ride in the door zone. However, if I were to open my car door into a cyclist, I would accept responsibility for the crash. ESPECIALLY if the door zone was conspicuously marked as a bicycle lane (as it often is where I live).
Fine, you be the doormat. If a drunk driver plows through a stop sign and hits you, are you going to be responsible for that too?

Did you even read the situation in the original post? This rider would have had to run a stop sign at high speed quickly turning into the door zone. You want me to be apologetic to this numbskull? Yea, right. He's getting no sympathy from me AND I would file a report and try to collect for damages that he caused. Good lawyer + lots of pictures goes a long way.

I am a diehard cyclist and dislike cars as much as the next guy, but if I ever did anything stupid like this one did, I WOULD accept the blame. Get your head out of your *** and get a new perspective.
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Old 08-08-05, 07:05 PM   #18
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Fine, you be the doormat. If a drunk driver plows through a stop sign and hits you, are you going to be responsible for that too?

Did you even read the situation in the original post? This rider would have had to run a stop sign at high speed quickly turning into the door zone. You want me to be apologetic to this numbskull? Yea, right. He's getting no sympathy from me AND I would file a report and try to collect for damages that he caused. Good lawyer + lots of pictures goes a long way.

I am a diehard cyclist and dislike cars as much as the next guy, but if I ever did anything stupid like this one did, I WOULD accept the blame. Get your head out of your *** and get a new perspective.
I love how some folks use 'door zone' like it's some magic force field around a car. This driver would have a hard time proving that the rider was negligent and in most states the driver has the responsibility to make sure traffic is clear before opening his door. I've had passengers open their door when I'm looking at parked cars for opening doors. It's only common sense that the person putting an obstacle into traffic, the car driver and their door, be ultimately responsible for any accident they cause. Just because most of us know better than to ride in the door zone it doesn't change the law.

I had an incident a few years ago where a woman in a Toyota Camry kicked open her door into traffic, while I was able to get my bike out of the way of her door, my fully loaded Bob trailer just caught it. Her door was cranked up a couple of inches, but my trailer didn't have a nick. Should I have paid for her impatience just because she couldn't take a second to check her mirror and notice the 6'4" boy with the bright yellow trailer, forget that.
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Old 08-08-05, 07:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Treespeed
I love how some folks use 'door zone' like it's some magic force field around a car. This driver would have a hard time proving that the rider was negligent and in most states the driver has the responsibility to make sure traffic is clear before opening his door. I've had passengers open their door when I'm looking at parked cars for opening doors. It's only common sense that the person putting an obstacle into traffic, the car driver and their door, be ultimately responsible for any accident they cause. Just because most of us know better than to ride in the door zone it doesn't change the law.

I had an incident a few years ago where a woman in a Toyota Camry kicked open her door into traffic, while I was able to get my bike out of the way of her door, my fully loaded Bob trailer just caught it. Her door was cranked up a couple of inches, but my trailer didn't have a nick. Should I have paid for her impatience just because she couldn't take a second to check her mirror and notice the 6'4" boy with the bright yellow trailer, forget that.
I don't know what the hell you are talking about because I personally always look twice and open the door slowly. That gives me enough justification whereas if this moron hit me due to his own negligence, I wouldn't feel one ounce of remorse for his twitching body. Now, if I was going to kick the door open, then I would accept responsibility. There is only so much I can do short of standing on the seat and sticking my head out the sunroof for five minutes just to make sure there is absolutely no possibility of a bike coming. I admit that neither of us know what really happened in this particular incident, but from the description of the scene it seems like the rider was just being an ***hole.

It may not be the law for the cyclist to watch out for doors, but it's the right thing to do. Defending stupidity, now that is...
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Old 08-08-05, 07:29 PM   #20
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I love how some folks use 'door zone' like it's some magic force field around a car. This driver would have a hard time proving that the rider was negligent and in most states the driver has the responsibility to make sure traffic is clear before opening his door. I've had passengers open their door when I'm looking at parked cars for opening doors. It's only common sense that the person putting an obstacle into traffic, the car driver and their door, be ultimately responsible for any accident they cause. Just because most of us know better than to ride in the door zone it doesn't change the law.
Very true. If I had doored the guy, I would have most probably been held responsible under the law. And I would have taken responsibility.

I see the door zone as a place where a cyclist needs to be aware of the extra danger. The cyclist is within their rights to ride in the door zone, wether or not it is a good idea, and if they get doored, the doorer is still to blame. Only an eyewitness to the cyclist riding reckless, as in my case, might change the legal determination of fault.

It is my luck that my habit of opening the door a few inches and stopping was the only thing that saved both of use a lot of grief.
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Old 08-08-05, 07:41 PM   #21
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Very true. If I had doored the guy, I would have most probably been held responsible under the law. And I would have taken responsibility.

I see the door zone as a place where a cyclist needs to be aware of the extra danger. The cyclist is within their rights to ride in the door zone, wether or not it is a good idea, and if they get doored, the doorer is still to blame. Only an eyewitness to the cyclist riding reckless, as in my case, might change the legal determination of fault.

It is my luck that my habit of opening the door a few inches and stopping was the only thing that saved both of use a lot of grief.
It definitely sounds like you were being prudent, and I wasn't arguing that there aren't instances where the rider would be at fault. But like you said, unless you have a witness it will be very hard to prove negligence on the rider's part.

Stories like this are good as they remind us all to be a little more cautious as drivers and riders.
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Old 08-08-05, 07:53 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Roody
Here is the rule:
Don't ride in the door zone. If you do, accept responsibility for your "accident".
I can't seem to find this "rule" or the assignment of accident responsibility to all doored cyclists, nor the free pass for all door openers in any rule book; where did you find it?
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Old 08-09-05, 10:10 AM   #23
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Here's the CA vehicle code:

Opening and Closing Doors

22517. No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.

Amended Ch. 162, Stats. 1963. Effective September 20, 1963.


Looks like it's the car's responsibility to watch for cyclists, at least in CA.

As to whether the cyclist was riding legally just before he got doored...well, that's why we have lawyers...

I tried to find the VA law addressing this, but couldn't find it.

Thanks for being honest about this "near-miss". We all have lapses in attention or judgement from time to time. Most of the time nothing happens. If we pause to consider the "what if", we can make corrections and be more careful next time.

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Old 08-10-05, 01:13 PM   #24
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What is it 4 days later since this post was made and I still can't stop laughing to myself when I read the title of this thread. "My door almost got biked". Awesome.
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Old 08-10-05, 06:25 PM   #25
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What is it 4 days later since this post was made and I still can't stop laughing to myself when I read the title of this thread. "My door almost got biked". Awesome.
Thank You
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