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Old 11-11-10, 11:59 AM   #1
1nterceptor
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Being “Doored”

http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...-experts-fees/

On ‘Dooring’ of Bicyclists, and Experts’ Fees
By AL BAKER

Cyclists sometimes call it “the door prize,” or simply being “doored.”

And in a city where the tension between two- and four-wheeled transportation devices can sometimes seem as shrill as the sound of squeaky brakes, accounts of collisions between bicyclists and drivers are passed around on blogs, in newspapers and among members of various cycling clubs and organizations.

One compilation of episodes in which drivers opened the doors of their parked vehicles into the path of oncoming cyclists can be found on BicycleSafe.com and includes details of cases from places as diverse as India, Canada, Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco.

Among the harrowing accounts is one about Dana Laird, 36, a “doctoral student at the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts,” who was killed in 2002 as she rode along Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Mass.

It said: “A motorist opened the door of a parked sport utility vehicle across the bike lane in which Ms. Laird was traveling. Ms. Laird swerved and lost control. According to eyewitness accounts, she yelled, `flew through the air,’ and apparently struck the door. She went under the right rear wheels of a passing transit bus, and she was killed instantly.”

Such collisions are not foreign in New York City — and they can lead to occasional charges being lodged by the police or prosecutors, depending on the circumstances.

In a crash on Atlantic and Washington Avenues in Brooklyn on Sept. 11, a driver opened her car door into the path of Jasmine Herron, who was bicycling by, sending her into an oncoming bus that struck and killed her, officials said. Among the charges filed against the driver, Krystal Francis, was “opening and closing vehicle doors,” a violation of Section 1214 of the State Vehicle and Traffic Law, according to a criminal complaint from the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

The charge popped up again, this time phrased as “unsafely exiting a vehicle,” in a crash in East Harlem on Friday. In that case, the driver of a 2008 Honda was issued with a summons for “unsafely exiting a vehicle” for opening his car door and causing a bicyclist to fall into the path of an oncoming truck, which killed him, the police said.

The Honda driver, who was not identified by name, was in his parked car and opened his door as the rider, Marcus Ewing, 27, was pedaling his Cannondale bicycle eastbound on East 120th Street, just west of Third Avenue, about 8 a.m., the police said.

The driver of the truck that hit Mr. Ewing was issued five summonses, for equipment violations.

As for the driver whose door knocked over Mr. Ewing, the charge he faces — unsafely exiting a vehicle — “is a V.T.L. traffic summons” (Vehicle and Traffic Law) and not one found in the New York State penal code, according to one city official.

Another official said such citations were aimed at preventing drivers from opening their car doors into traffic in ways that would create “dangerous conditions for bicyclists or motorists” coming by at the same time.

“You cannot just swing your car door open,” the official said.

“It is not that often that officers issue those kinds of tickets,” the official said. And sometimes, it requires a patrol officer to witness the offending behavior for it to rise to a summons, or an inquiry by the Accident Investigation Squad when a death is involved. Then, that sole charge can carry similar penalties to other traffic violations, like going through a red light, the official said.

Whether termed “unsafely exiting a vehicle” or something else, Nick Cantiello, a spokesman for the State Department of Motor Vehicles, sent along a copy of Section 1214 of the State Vehicle and Traffic Law. It said:

Opening and closing vehicle doors. No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Mr. Cantiello said the fine for the violation could be as much as $150. Asked about the number of “doorings” — in which people open a door into a bike or a car — he said that as of Oct. 22, there had been 147 tickets issued for that offense around the state.

In all of 2009, he said, there were 179; in all of 2008 there were 207; and in 2007 there were 164.

“So it’s not a lot,” he said. “You can see there’s not a real trend there.”

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said the department did not keep statistics on such incidents around the five boroughs.

Noah S. Budnick, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit pedestrian and bicycle transportation group financed by members, said the issue of cyclists being hit by doors had long been a concern.

“It’s always been a top complaint and, anecdotally, a major contributing factor to crashes in New York City,” he said. “If you talk to anyone who’s ridden a bike in New York, everyone has a story about, at best, narrowly avoiding a car door that’s been swung open in their path and bike riders quickly learn that one of the safest ways to ride is to take the whole lane, so they are not biking in the door zone.”
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Old 11-11-10, 12:04 PM   #2
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Ride in the lane when cars are parked.. problem solved.
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Old 11-11-10, 12:21 PM   #3
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From the article "nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers"

That makes me crazy whether biking or driving. Even if they look and there is time to exit, they don't merely exit: they turn around and stick their heads back in the car looking for things, or open the back door and start unloading packages, on the street side! wtf are they thinking? I don't do that for my own safety, nothing to do with not wanting to be in the way, yet I see it every single night.

“So it’s not a lot,” he said. “You can see there’s not a real trend there.”
Is he talking about the tickets or the violations? Does he realize there are violations that occur that are not ticketed, because the moving vehicle manages to avoid the door? How does he know there is no trend? Probably none of us knows for sure, but I imagine it's more than 160ish per year for the whole state.
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Old 11-11-10, 03:21 PM   #4
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The driver I especially liked, unlatched his door(I'm assuming, I didn't see that), then leaned over to the right (far enough that he couldn't be seen from traffic) to get something from the far side of the passenger's seat, then kicked the door open with his foot to get out. That one caught me by surprise, fortunately I did manage to avoid it, being tipped off by the small crack between door and car.
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Old 11-11-10, 05:30 PM   #5
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpZMfkDCe78

here is about how close I get.
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Old 11-11-10, 06:58 PM   #6
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I borrowed a very large bike trailer from a student co-op a couple of years ago. The young woman who lent it to me had been car-free for two years and had every intention of staying free. The funny thing is, she gave up driving when she "doored" a large truck. She kicked her door open without looking and it was taken off by a passing truck. She feels lucky to have escaped her stupidity with her left leg intact.
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Old 11-11-10, 07:10 PM   #7
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Sometimes its also the cyclists fault: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ9eaXJhl8Q
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Old 11-12-10, 01:44 AM   #8
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The topic of cyclists being doored always reminds me of the fatal accident of David Smith in NYC. Notice that the victim was a very cautious man and had many lights on his bike (he's nickname was "Lights").
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Old 11-12-10, 02:55 PM   #9
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I'm curious about how many cyclists are just scuffed up by doorings--I've been doored twice now and have yet to be badly hurt by it-- and therefore aren't included in the stats. I also wonder how tough it would be to really harden up a bike (48-spoke front wheel, maybe with a welded-tubing bashguard) and just take a door off. That'd learn 'em, you betcha.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:03 PM   #10
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I was doored badly once as a teenager and learned my lesson forever...The guy bent the frame on my new Peugeot, I sprained both my wrists when I landed and if there had been any traffic coming on the street, I wouldn't be here posting this now.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:13 PM   #11
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I'm curious about how many cyclists are just scuffed up by doorings--I've been doored twice now and have yet to be badly hurt by it-- and therefore aren't included in the stats. I also wonder how tough it would be to really harden up a bike (48-spoke front wheel, maybe with a welded-tubing bashguard) and just take a door off. That'd learn 'em, you betcha.
I have never been doored. Just a few close calls. The last one in Vancouver BC around May.
The lack of incidents are most likely due to the locations I tend to ride in.
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Old 11-12-10, 03:31 PM   #12
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I really don't picture an experienced rider being doored.
I'm not a "take the lane" rider, but I sure as heck never pass closer than 4.5 feet.
Do experienced riders just "forget" or think they suddenly have X-Ray vision? Or suddenly think drivers actually think about bikes?
If you ride too close to parked cars-you will eventually be doored.
Darwin award.

Not getting doored is the best reason to "take a lane"-not the "I don't want drivers to pass too closely"
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Old 11-12-10, 03:35 PM   #13
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That's like saying if I ride in traffic I'll eventually be run over. Sorry, not buying it.
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Old 11-12-10, 06:28 PM   #14
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I was in a bus years ago and someone doored us. It snapped the door off like it was a carrot. Bus driver got out and gave them a card and continued with the route.
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Old 11-12-10, 06:46 PM   #15
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I've seen cars door other cars, too.

The effect just isn't the same as with a cyclist, though....
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Old 11-12-10, 11:55 PM   #16
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It's another reason why I ride slowly--helps a little.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:09 AM   #17
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Today I was in what passes for downtown Eugene. I was waiting behind a cyclist at a four-way stop. The oncoming car wanted to turn left (across our path). The cyclist in front of me was waiting for the car to go; the driver wanted the cyclist to go. Just as the car finally went, a car from our left decided he had waited long enough and went. The two cars missed each other by inches. I turned right and, if I had been riding in the door zone would have been doored by the car that had just turned across my path. The driver was still unnerved by his near collision and didn't even think to look before opening his door. I never ride in door zones, even when the bike path is placed in the door zone. Someday I will be ticketed for being out of the bike lane.
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Old 11-13-10, 01:34 AM   #18
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The one time I got doored, the timing was such that I couldn't overreact (i.e. swerve into heavy traffic), and I ended up going full on into the inside of the dude's door, with apparently pretty decent speed- I bent the driver door all the way up to the front fender...like a hyper-extended joint, and when he tried to close it again, it wouldn't latch, and just bounced back open. Made a horrible sound. It hurt my knee a little, and I had a car window-shaped bruise across my chest and shoulder, but considering the damage to his car, and especially considering I learned a huge lesson from it, I'd say I took the "Win" on that one- a rarity for dooring victims.
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Old 11-13-10, 05:54 AM   #19
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I get the doors & pedestrians thing too often as well, I just realize there are areas where it's going to happen and slowdown, even remain alert and on constant vigil, expecting it to happen. The other day I was riding and a bus and I took turns passing each other. What an annoying trend and cycle to get into. I rode, the bus would come up from behind, pass me, only to stop just ahead at a bus stop. I then retook the lead momentarily by passing the stopped bus. This went on for about 2-3 miles and finally I just got too annoyed with it (I can't imagine it being any more enjoyable for him either), I stopped long enough to let the bus get far enough away.
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Old 11-13-10, 07:51 AM   #20
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I can see it happening when a bus passes.They tend to pass slowly and slowly squeeze you closer to parked cars. Of course they shouldn't do this, but they usually do.
Like fugi86 suggests the only thing to do is to slow waaaaay down and make sure your hands are on the brakes!

At 10 mph(15 fps) reaction time is about 10 feet(2/3 second)-stopping time maybe another .5 seconds(4 feet or so). You need about 1 car length but if you can't see the driver you can have close to zero warning-Heck they-drivers-can literally open the door right into the side of your bike.
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Old 11-13-10, 09:30 AM   #21
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Comm Ave Boston the right lane is so crazy I take the left lane
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Old 11-13-10, 10:49 AM   #22
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Sometimes its also the cyclists fault: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ9eaXJhl8Q
Er, what? Haha... my man the law is against opening the door into any traffic - left or right. I've seen people open the doors from the middle of the road-way consider some bike-lanes which are running to the right of traffic.

btw, nice turn-signal or hazards from the driver.

Last edited by electrik; 11-13-10 at 11:20 AM. Reason: wise guy eh
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Old 11-13-10, 11:11 AM   #23
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It's another reason why I ride slowly--helps a little.
I also go crash speed, it's real slow.
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Old 11-13-10, 11:15 AM   #24
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I'm curious about how many cyclists are just scuffed up by doorings--I've been doored twice now and have yet to be badly hurt by it-- and therefore aren't included in the stats. I also wonder how tough it would be to really harden up a bike (48-spoke front wheel, maybe with a welded-tubing bashguard) and just take a door off. That'd learn 'em, you betcha.
A lot, most, maybe all, of the experienced urban riders I know have been doored to varying degrees. Some more than once.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:07 PM   #25
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Er, what? Haha... my man the law is against opening the door into any traffic - left or right.
Only if your state's legislature is on crack.

Sec. 545.418. OPENING VEHICLE DOORS. A person may not:
(1) open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, unless the door may be opened in reasonable safety without interfering with the movement of other traffic; or
(2) leave a door on the side of a vehicle next to moving traffic open for longer than is necessary to load or unload a passenger.

No reasonable driver is going to consider a foot or so of gutter pan to be "available to moving traffic."
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