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Old 04-12-05, 07:57 AM   #1
darkmother
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I had my first crash of 2005 yesterday. I was pulling up to a red light to the right of traffic, at maybe 25 km/hr past to the right of a line of stationary cars. Just as I'm about to pass this Lexus SUV, the back seat passenger throws his door open in my path. I was pretty much boxed in, so I just kind of threw my body away from the opening door. My drop bars hooked the edge of the door, and my left shoulder caught it, and hyperexteded the door. I managed to keep my head, and the rest of my body away from the door, so I wasn't really hurt. Remarkably, my bike only suffered a torn brake lever cover, and a slight twitch to the front wheel.

True to form, the SUV driver was a total prick. The first words out of his mouth, with me sprawled on the pavement, are: "That's what you get for passing on the right". Then he shoots his mouth off at me some more, and manages to tell me how he's gone through this before (!) with another cyclist-all with an arrogance and distain that surprise even me. I was in mild shock, and I didn't want to let him bait me-so I kept my mouth shut. Finally, he walks around to the passenger side of the car, and notices the damage to his vehicle. Creased sheetmetal near the door hinges, and the door would not close properly. At this point, the driver has a complete change of attitude. He asks me if I'm OK (how touching) and tells me he would like to exchange information with me. He can barely contain his enthusiasm as he attempts to find witnesses. I told him that I was not particularly interested in aiding him with his insurance claim, and left. I'm pretty sure the guy was going to sue me for damages. Probably would have won too.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:18 AM   #2
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So he was discharging passengers while not fully against the curb... how interesting.

Of course the vehicular cyclists will say that you should never have been on the right of this vehicle unless you were turning right. Otherwise, you should have been in your proper "destination position" behind the vehicle... snorting exhaust gas.

Of course, if you were turning right, you would have been between the vehicle and the curb. But far enough away to not be doored???

While you may have been in the wrong position... discharging passengers away from the curb is bad practice...

But I am not sure if it is illegal.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:36 AM   #3
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Since almost all SUVs in Toronto are single-occupant, I would have thought that the odds or being doored on the passenger side are far lower. Which makes his comment about "passing on the right" a bit ironic. Makes me wonder what he does to people who pass him on the left... I'd personally rather be doored onto the sidewalk than into the passing lane.

And it's *great* how Torontonian drivers will happily squeeze by you in the same lane when they are passing (regardless of your lane position, I find) but get all indignant when you pass them in the same way. The traffic act, it seems, only applies to other people.

Sorry about the brake hood. Kudos about the Lexus.
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Old 04-12-05, 08:58 AM   #4
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Of course the vehicular cyclists will say that you should never have been on the right of this vehicle unless you were turning right. Otherwise, you should have been in your proper "destination position" behind the vehicle... snorting exhaust gas.

Of course, if you were turning right, you would have been between the vehicle and the curb. But far enough away to not be doored???

While you may have been in the wrong position... discharging passengers away from the curb is bad practice...

But I am not sure if it is illegal.
Technically, I was wrong to be passing on the right, but I believe the driver has a legal obligation to signal and pull into the curb to unload passengers. Really, I think it is all hot air with this kind of situation. As a cyclist, I can't realisticly *not* pass on the right when commuting in rush hour. I mean, sure it is possible, but it nullifies much of the advantage of riding in the first place. And, if I'm going to do that, than I sure as hell am going to take up the whole lane *all of the time*. You want to pass? Great. Change lanes.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:04 AM   #5
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Ouch, sorry man. But, you were somewhat in the wrong...this is the issue with passing on the right, do so at your own risk.

Don't see why they opened the passenger door in the middle of the road, however.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:10 AM   #6
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Glad your OK, and stayed cool!

I would have exchanged info though, because you went down. Sometimes injuries can be masked by the adrenalin&shock of the incident.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:19 AM   #7
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You'd have to check the provicial code, but I'm pretty sure vehicles cannot allow passengers to leave in traffic (even if it is stopped) and the driver or passenger has to look to see if the path is clear before opening the door to leave.

I'm also pretty sure (yes it sucks) that you are not alowed to pass on the right if you are not in a bike lane or the vehicle being passed is not stopped and signalling a left turn.

I've seen vehicles stop and release passengers in the middle of a right hand turn as they briefly stopped while checking oncoming traffic to the left.
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Old 04-12-05, 09:46 AM   #8
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yeah your in the right (in my eyes) doing what you did, but i might have stopped and gotten his info... you could have maybe gotten the cost of a new brake lever cover and wheel true back from his insurance company! and what if you woke up this morning in some serious pain???

not a trying for a lecture, just an idea for the next time that will hopefully never happen...

when possible, STICK IT TO THE MAN!
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Old 04-12-05, 10:05 AM   #9
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Thanks for the input guys. I spoke with a friend of mine who was involved in a simalar accident. He claims that the police officer sided with him, and the driver had to pay for the damage to his bike. That surprised me.

I'm pretty sure this guy was a lawyer, from the way he handled the whole situation. I figured the risk of exchanging my personal info. was not worth the expected benefit.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:02 AM   #10
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well, kudos on damaging his SUV anyway.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:04 AM   #11
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Even if he did an insurance claim, I don't think they could've gotten any money out of you. It just would've raised his premiums. You could've gotten a whole new bike out of it (whether or not you needed it).
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Old 04-12-05, 11:27 AM   #12
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I'm in Toronto too and I don't think you did anything wrong, from what I read. I am not familiar with any regulations stating you cannot continue up to the light against the curb. If the jerk in the SUV (why is it all the high-end SUV's have the worst drivers?) was discharging passengers from a travelling lane, he is in the wrong. I would have collected his information and given none of your own (what could you give? say you don't have a license and we don't need insurance, so...). I'd have said that upon consultation with a lawyer he may be hearing from you. That has nearly happened to me many times (usually cabs) and I think even they realize they are in the wrong. I've even followed bike ops up the curb to the light. The only time I ever stop is if the var is too close to the curb and I can't get by.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by EnigManiac
I'm in Toronto too and I don't think you did anything wrong, from what I read. I am not familiar with any regulations stating you cannot continue up to the light against the curb. If the jerk in the SUV (why is it all the high-end SUV's have the worst drivers?) was discharging passengers from a travelling lane, he is in the wrong. I would have collected his information and given none of your own (what could you give? say you don't have a license and we don't need insurance, so...). I'd have said that upon consultation with a lawyer he may be hearing from you. That has nearly happened to me many times (usually cabs) and I think even they realize they are in the wrong. I've even followed bike ops up the curb to the light. The only time I ever stop is if the var is too close to the curb and I can't get by.

Good advice. I think I really should practice what I am going to say and do the next time something like this happens. I was way too out of it and shaken up to really think things through clearly at the time-and the guy was really starting to piss me off. Experience has taught me not to say I am OK, and not to get up right away when some driver smokes me. Next time I will at least take down the guy's license info in case I need it.
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Old 04-12-05, 12:08 PM   #14
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You should have taken out your u lock and modified his car and face.

Another driver who is forever against bikes and cyclists on the roads...
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Old 04-12-05, 12:30 PM   #15
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You should have taken out your u lock and modified his car and face.

Another driver who is forever against bikes and cyclists on the roads...
Alas, I was only packing a cable lock. I wish I could see the bill for his door
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Old 04-12-05, 12:31 PM   #16
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Good advice. I think I really should practice what I am going to say and do the next time something like this happens. I was way too out of it and shaken up to really think things through clearly at the time-and the guy was really starting to piss me off. Experience has taught me not to say I am OK, and not to get up right away when some driver smokes me. Next time I will at least take down the guy's license info in case I need it.
I understand being shaken up and not thinking rationally. A few years ago, my then-8 year old son was riding on the sidewalk up in the Dovercourt/Davenport area when an SUV came zipping out of a blind alley and onto the sidewalk, screeching his brakes as he tried to stop, but not before knocking my son off his bike and onto the road (where I was) as he tried to swerve around this #@(*&%@. I dove trying to catch my son and both our bikes hit the ground hard. In the end, neither of us were hurt, just really shaken up. If the driver hadn't been so apologetic and genuinely remorseful, I'd have killed him on the spot, I swear. But we walked the rest of the way home on rubbery legs and didn't realize there was damage to both bikes and he needed a new helmet until later. Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to have taken the guys info. I should have and I should have had him charged. Hindsight is 20/20
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Old 04-12-05, 01:53 PM   #17
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Alas, I was only packing a cable lock. I wish I could see the bill for his door
cable whip! Although it might ricochet (sp?) in your face
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Old 04-12-05, 02:06 PM   #18
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I understand being shaken up and not thinking rationally. A few years ago, my then-8 year old son was riding on the sidewalk up in the Dovercourt/Davenport area when an SUV came zipping out of a blind alley and onto the sidewalk, screeching his brakes as he tried to stop, but not before knocking my son off his bike and onto the road (where I was) as he tried to swerve around this #@(*&%@.
Oh man. That is just brutal. Must have scared you to death. That's way worse than getting hit yourself, for sure. Once again, my "irrational" hatred of SUV drivers has been encouraged.
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Old 04-12-05, 02:55 PM   #19
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Oh man. That is just brutal. Must have scared you to death. That's way worse than getting hit yourself, for sure. Once again, my "irrational" hatred of SUV drivers has been encouraged.
I don't ever want to experience that kind of stress and fear again. But, there was a valuable lesson for my son who until that day had been a reluctant and whining helmet wearer. Now, he doesn't even dream about going out without a helmet. And he's an avid cyclist. When he's not paying attention, I merely have to remind him about the SUV and the alley. He smartens up right quick. It was a poignant lesson learned without too much damage being incurred.
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Old 04-12-05, 11:30 PM   #20
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I got smoked on a door a while back too. I was biking up a small hill at night, had some good momentum, of course all my lights going, and all of a sudden this guy in a parked car, with no lights on whatsoever, opens the driver's side door. He did this when I was about 2-3 feet from the door, and if I hadn't swerved, I would have gone straight into the metal and probably snapped the door off it's hinges. Unfortunately for me, swerving to avoid the door led to my kneecap smacking into the edge of the door as the driver instinctively slammed the door shut. I couldn't walk, much less bike, for about an hour, and my mom picked me up and took me to emerg to see if I had any damage. I didn't, but the triage nurse digging into the gash on my knee to extract the road gravel was damned painful. The guy was nice and helpful and very sorry about it, and it wasn't really his fault, I just was frustrated because I had no way of knowing that the door was about to open, and he hadn't checked his mirror before opening the door or he would have seen my lights.

Today I had a not so dangerous but quite annoying incident. I'm on a bike escort team for the Vancouver Marathon, and we had a practice today, so we're going down a busy street downtown in single file, taking up 1/4 of the lane. We start off from a stop light and I pull up next to one of the other riders to tell them that their fender was falling off (I was about two feet away from the yellow lane divider) and this punk in a camaro blazes past us, his hand jammed onto the horn, IN THE OPPOSITE LANE. He obviously thought what I was doing was illegal-however the irony was that he actually did the illegal act.
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Old 04-13-05, 12:16 AM   #21
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Technically you are not allowed to pass cars on the right (I follow this about 0.001% of the time in busy downtown traffic).

Hope you messed his door real nice. Good thing you weren't hurt bad. This is what I do on stopped traffic.
It's going to be dangerous any way you choose it, unless you wait in line and take the lane.

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Old 04-13-05, 04:49 AM   #22
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Technically you are not allowed to pass cars on the right (I follow this about 0.001% of the time in busy downtown traffic).

Hope you messed his door real nice. Good thing you weren't hurt bad. This is what I do on stopped traffic.
It's going to be dangerous any way you choose it, unless you wait in line and take the lane.

That looks like you're riding between cars. That, I know, is not legal and doesn't look safe any way you look at it. I have never seen a cyclist wait behind cars if there's room to move up to the light on the right, including cops on bikes, and I've been riding for 25 years in downtown Toronto.
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Old 04-13-05, 09:01 AM   #23
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Technically you are not allowed to pass cars on the right
Here (Washington DC) it's actually written into the law that cyclists may pass left or right. We have goofy laws.
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Old 04-13-05, 09:06 AM   #24
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Here (Washington DC)We have goofy laws.
Is passing on the left democrat and passing on the right republican? LOL
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Old 04-13-05, 10:12 AM   #25
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I'm sympathetic, but I think this is called "leaving the scene of the accident". Unfortunately, I think you were at fault. I've started waiting in line a lot more these days.
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