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Old 08-09-09, 04:09 PM   #1
MisterK
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Danger! Open car doors!

well it finally happend, my first real bike accident.
was biking down portage ave. (pretty much our main downtown street in winnipeg) and being on the road ofcourse i gotta kinda giver to keep up with traffic.
all was going well until someone opened their car door right infront of me, total bad timing, only enough time to say Oh Shi.....*boom*
well i went flying, they called an ambulence, they checked me out (i refused to go to the hospital) im quite abit banged up...and my front rim is toast, but im alive. i was one of those "man helmets are gay" people but ill tell u now next payday thats the first thing im doing. bottom line despite not being my fault, i got lucky especially since i also didnt get run over by the car behind me.

unrelated, also to top off my day, after my brother came to pick me up and letting me drop off my bike at his place i figured id grab some tim hortons waiting for the bus...a mocha latte and chocolate chip muffin would have made me so much better....had i not forgotten my debit card at home :\ what a terrible day!
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Old 08-09-09, 05:03 PM   #2
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Take the lane next time.
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Old 08-09-09, 05:14 PM   #3
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How the heck do you think a helmet would have prevented this "accident"? You're better off just not riding in door zones. Ever. And you can start now--no need to wait until payday.

Anyway, I'm glad you weren't hurt too badly. These door crashes are often fatalities.
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Old 08-09-09, 05:27 PM   #4
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I'm sorry to hear of it. But it sounds as though your injuries are less than they might have been. That's good.

I can remember well when I used to ride in a more urban setting. Watching the driver's seat of every single parked car for that body language that warned of trouble. Being doored was, perhaps, our biggest fear.

FWIW, I didn't get the impression from your post that you thought a helmet would prevent incidents of this type. The helmet, of course, is there for when you hit the ground for whatever reason. You didn't say so, but you didn't need to.

I'm pretty much helmet neutral myself. But a helmet does make riding more comfortable, too. So if you want one, then you should get one.
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Old 08-09-09, 05:44 PM   #5
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Watching every single car to see if there is someone in it sounds very dangerous. Even if you were able to see a person in the car and moved over every time you did then you would be swerving in and out of traffic on your left like a maniac.

I agree with Roody, take the lane but also buy a helmet if that suits you.
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Old 08-09-09, 06:11 PM   #6
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i do watch for tail lights, ppl in cars is abit hard to do imo...this was my first time attempting "real winnipeg downtown biking". i guess i could have been more in the lanes but being my first time doing a/"the" major route in my city i was being a bit more cautious cuz i really didnt believe i could cut being "in the lanes" so i bike like i usually do, sticking to the shoulder which usually does me well.
i did learn the the door opener is always the one at fault. she was really nice tho about the whole thing and very helpful, they were about to go for a wedding dress fitting for her friend with her. i hope this is all the bad luck they experience through the whole thing.
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Old 08-09-09, 07:22 PM   #7
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Unless you are creeping along at pedestrian speeds, always leave at least 3 feet between yourself and the parked cars.
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Old 08-09-09, 08:21 PM   #8
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i do watch for tail lights, ppl in cars is abit hard to do imo...this was my first time attempting "real winnipeg downtown biking". i guess i could have been more in the lanes but being my first time doing a/"the" major route in my city i was being a bit more cautious cuz i really didnt believe i could cut being "in the lanes" so i bike like i usually do, sticking to the shoulder which usually does me well.
Simply decide in advance that the door zone is off limits; think of it as part of the parking area, not part of the road. If you feel like you should be riding far right, ride just out of reach of the doors, and know that that is the far-right edge of the road.

There are many times when it would be safer yet to move left and take more of the lane, but you can work on that as you gain confidence.

I also agree that a helmet is a good idea -- and I do wear one myself -- but it's of secondary importance, compared to avoiding crashes in the first place.

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i did learn the the door opener is always the one at fault.
True, she's legally at fault, as she should be -- her mistake in opening the door without looking was bigger than your mistake in riding too far right. But either of you could have prevented the crash...and since the drivers aren't likely to get any smarter soon, you need to take that responsibility for yourself.

Glad you're both all right, and I hope you're back on the bike soon. (The driver is paying for your repairs, right?)
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Old 08-09-09, 09:54 PM   #9
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i do watch for tail lights, ppl in cars is abit hard to do imo...this was my first time attempting "real winnipeg downtown biking". i guess i could have been more in the lanes but being my first time doing a/"the" major route in my city i was being a bit more cautious cuz i really didnt believe i could cut being "in the lanes" so i bike like i usually do, sticking to the shoulder which usually does me well.
i did learn the the door opener is always the one at fault. she was really nice tho about the whole thing and very helpful, they were about to go for a wedding dress fitting for her friend with her. i hope this is all the bad luck they experience through the whole thing
.
I know that you felt like you were being more cautious, but you were actually being incautious. Going by your hunches or feelings will sometimes get you in trouble. Your hunches probably tell you that the most dangerous thing on a busy street is getting run over by a car coming from behind you. But on a bike, you're more likely to be doored, or get hit by a car turning into your path. This is why almost all experienced riders do ride out more into the traffic lane, where they can see and be seen.

Remember, when cars hit bikes, it's almost always because the driver did not see the bike, not because he/she saw it and hit it anyways.

As for the driver being at fault, this is true. But still, since it's so simple for a cyclist to avoid 100 percent of doorings, why not do it?
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Old 08-09-09, 10:28 PM   #10
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I think the OP lost out on 2-4 thousand dollars from small claims court. I would have had no problem filing at all because that is what insurance is all about. If an accident happened to that motorist and he/she went head over heals, you can be assured, they would have sued.
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Old 08-10-09, 04:07 AM   #11
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These door crashes are often fatalities.
Really? How often is "often"? I've only heard of a couple of door crash related fatalities in the U.S., where are these fatalities happening or that they occur in a significant percentage of door crash accidents?
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Old 08-10-09, 05:17 AM   #12
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Glad you're both all right, and I hope you're back on the bike soon. (The driver is paying for your repairs, right?)
i have no choice but to bike, besides the fact im not gonna let this keep me off my bike, its my way to work.
as for paying for repairs, i wasnt about to pursue over a bent front rim. im sore but ill tick it off as experience.
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Old 08-10-09, 07:12 AM   #13
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. . . bottom line despite not being my fault, i got lucky especially since i also didnt get run over by the car behind me . . .
It's good you made it through intact, but I disagree on the issue of responsibility. You were in the door zone and the car driver failed to use reasonable care in opening the door.
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Old 08-10-09, 07:35 AM   #14
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Unless you are creeping along at pedestrian speeds, always leave at least 3 feet between yourself and the parked cars.

Some car doors are a lot wider than 3 feet... What I do with my students while we're practicing in the parking lot is to go up next to my pickup, open the driver's door and then the passenger door, and demonstrate how wide these things can be, and so where a rider needs to be so that you can be clear if they open in front of you.

When there's parked cars, always ride far enough to the left so that your right handlebar won't get caught if the door opens.

A helmet is a wonderful thing to have if you do "touch the floor," but your best protection against this type of hazard is where you position yourself on the roadway, riding far enough out in the traffic lane to avoid the "door zone."
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Old 08-10-09, 07:50 AM   #15
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Okay, I guess I'll clarify just a bit. I wouldn't advocate riding in the door zone at breakneck speed. I stayed out of the door zone, too. But I also made it my business to know whether or not there was a person in the driver's seat of those parked cars. Even when I was well out in the lane, I wanted to know whether or not a door was about to open and someone was about to step out.
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Old 08-10-09, 08:18 AM   #16
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Okay, I guess I'll clarify just a bit. I wouldn't advocate riding in the door zone at breakneck speed. I stayed out of the door zone, too. But I also made it my business to know whether or not there was a person in the driver's seat of those parked cars. Even when I was well out in the lane, I wanted to know whether or not a door was about to open and someone was about to step out.
Being well out in the lane, out of the door zone, I don't usually scan for motor vehicle occupants, leaving me to be able to focus on other parts of traffic. For me, even if a motorist flings/kicks open their door, it's still not fast enough to cause an issue when I'm well out in the lane. Every motorist/child I've encountered doing the aforementioned is still not fast enough in exiting the vehicle, and I've taken measures as soon as the door began to open.
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Old 08-10-09, 01:36 PM   #17
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Really? How often is "often"? I've only heard of a couple of door crash related fatalities in the U.S., where are these fatalities happening or that they occur in a significant percentage of door crash accidents?
It must be true. I read it on this forum.
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Old 08-10-09, 01:46 PM   #18
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well it finally happend, my first real bike accident.
was biking down portage ave. (pretty much our main downtown street in winnipeg) and being on the road ofcourse i gotta kinda giver to keep up with traffic.
all was going well until someone opened their car door right infront of me, total bad timing, only enough time to say Oh Shi.....*boom*
well i went flying, they called an ambulence, they checked me out (i refused to go to the hospital) im quite abit banged up...and my front rim is toast, but im alive. i was one of those "man helmets are gay" people but ill tell u now next payday thats the first thing im doing. bottom line despite not being my fault, i got lucky especially since i also didnt get run over by the car behind me.

unrelated, also to top off my day, after my brother came to pick me up and letting me drop off my bike at his place i figured id grab some tim hortons waiting for the bus...a mocha latte and chocolate chip muffin would have made me so much better....had i not forgotten my debit card at home :\ what a terrible day!
Even if you don't think that you were injured that badly you should still get yourself checked out by a doctor. You could have internal injuries that won't show up for day's or weeks later, Or when you're walking through the hall and "suddenly" drop dead for no "apparent reason."

After any serious accident you should get checked out.
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Old 08-10-09, 02:10 PM   #19
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Really? How often is "often"? I've only heard of a couple of door crash related fatalities in the U.S., where are these fatalities happening or that they occur in a significant percentage of door crash accidents?
I did a bit of googling and found that US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration runs a database of all traffic fatalities including bicycles. Apparently they categorize door accidents as "Getting Off/Out of or On/In to a Transport Vehicle" in the report on bicycles fatalities. Unfortunately the report only shows the main classification so being doored included with a bunch of other factors under the "Other Factors" category. "Other Factors" account for 11% of fatalities, so being doored is likely much less than that.
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Old 08-10-09, 06:35 PM   #20
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I know that you felt like you were being more cautious, but you were actually being incautious. Going by your hunches or feelings will sometimes get you in trouble. Your hunches probably tell you that the most dangerous thing on a busy street is getting run over by a car coming from behind you. But on a bike, you're more likely to be doored, or get hit by a car turning into your path. This is why almost all experienced riders do ride out more into the traffic lane, where they can see and be seen.

Remember, when cars hit bikes, it's almost always because the driver did not see the bike, not because he/she saw it and hit it anyways.

As for the driver being at fault, this is true. But still, since it's so simple for a cyclist to avoid 100 percent of doorings, why not do it?
My mindset when riding by stopped or parked cars is, that like a gun, assume every car is "loaded," with someone ready to exit from either side.
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Old 08-11-09, 01:45 PM   #21
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My mindset when riding by stopped or parked cars is, that like a gun, assume every car is "loaded," with someone ready to exit from either side.
Jim,

Very good analogy, I would also add always assume that the driver of the car doesn't see you and is going to move into your lane or cut you off.
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Old 08-11-09, 03:06 PM   #22
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It must be true. I read it on this forum.
I respect an honest answer about the source of BF "facts" and Conventional Wisdom about bicycling safety.
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Old 08-11-09, 03:07 PM   #23
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Jim,

Very good analogy, I would also add always assume that the driver of the car doesn't see you and is going to move into your lane or cut you off.
Hi DC,

Thanks for your comment. My aphorism for the situation in boldface is to make yourself as visible as possible and assume no one can see you.

Jim
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Old 08-11-09, 03:07 PM   #24
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Even if you don't think that you were injured that badly you should still get yourself checked out by a doctor. You could have internal injuries that won't show up for day's or weeks later, Or when you're walking through the hall and "suddenly" drop dead for no "apparent reason."

After any serious accident you should get checked out.
The OP is in Canada so health care costs are not a significant issue.
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Old 08-11-09, 10:30 PM   #25
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How the heck do you think a helmet would have prevented this "accident"? You're better off just not riding in door zones. Ever. And you can start now--no need to wait until payday.

Anyway, I'm glad you weren't hurt too badly. These door crashes are often fatalities.
Right, because the purpose of helmets are to "prevent" accidents.
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