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Mattyacc
06-16-2011, 09:23 AM
Hi, I was doored yesterday, and although I'm more or less fine and don't want to make a big deal about it, I'm looking for a place to report the accident so that WABA/WMATA can include it in their statistics.

Quick Background: I commute everyday from Adams Morgan to Union Station. My route has varied over time (I used to go straight down 15th St. and then all the way over on E) but now I mostly take 14th to Mass in the morning and Mass -> R -> 18th on my way home. Mass obviously isn't ideal, but I'm a fairly confident cyclist and it is by far the quickest route for me.

The Incident: I left work about six o'clock last night and was traveling NW on Mass between 4th and 5th. Traffic was heavy and so I was passing cars on the right. Near the apartment building that houses Buddha Bar, an SUV, stuck in traffic, opened the passenger door to let someone out. The car didn't have hazards or a turn signal on and hadn't moved out of the flow of traffic. I hit my brakes and kind of half went over my handle bars and into the door. I braked hard enough that the bike and car door never actually collided. The passenger was very apologetic and asked me repeatedly if I was alright. Taking a minute to gain my composure and check out my tender but otherwise intact collar bone I told him I was fine and sent him on his way. It was either that or punch him. I was both shaken and furious but have noticed that driver/bike altercations haven't ended well for cyclists recently. Besides, he seemed genuinely sorry and neither I nor my bike were damaged. I rode home, iced my shoulder, and called it a night.

The Aftermath: My collarbone is still sore, but decidedly not broken. While icing it this morning I grew more frustrated over what happened, and, while I don't feel the need for vengeance/justice, i would like to alert the proper authorities so that when people advocate for bike lanes/safety routes they can properly account for the number of accidents and such. Without accurate statistics and reporting it will be harder to enact change, so I'm looking to the forum for those resources.

DismalScientist
06-16-2011, 09:52 AM
This almost happened to me a few nights ago in Georgetown on M St. I was farther back (or moving more slowly) and stopped in time, with no accident. When you are passing stopped cars splitting the lane or on the right, the burden is on you to watch and protect yourself from this. I would never expect an occupant of a car to look back before opening a door. It is not as if you are in a (poorly-designed) bike lane.

StopMeansStop
06-16-2011, 10:21 AM
This almost happened to me a few nights ago in Georgetown on M St. I was farther back (or moving more slowly) and stopped in time, with no accident. When you are passing stopped cars splitting the lane or on the right, the burden is on you to watch and protect yourself from this. I would never expect an occupant of a car to look back before opening a door. It is not as if you are in a (poorly-designed) bike lane.

I agree with DS. In this situation the burden is on the cyclist. I think a true dooring is when you get nailed from a parked car, who has the duty not to open their doors without disregard for traffic.

acc
06-16-2011, 10:53 AM
I understand how you feel, I figure it's just a matter of time before I get that particular ticket punched. I would never expect a passenger door to suddenly open without flashers or any warning. I'm glad you're ok. I think we all react in the moment with the idea of jumping up, brushing ourselves off and getting away. The only thing you could have done would be to gather information from the driver, maybe type it into your phone. Again, thanks for the warning and the story. Glad you're ok.

ann

ronwalf
06-16-2011, 10:55 AM
...the burden is on you to watch and protect yourself from this.

So true - It's why I'm always looking up to avoid pianos and anvils dropped from apartment windows.

CCrew
06-16-2011, 11:15 AM
So true - It's why I'm always looking up to avoid pianos and anvils dropped from apartment windows.

We welcome Wiley Coyote to the discussion! LOL. Sorry, that just instantly came to mind!!

Joe Chapline
06-16-2011, 12:19 PM
Mattyacc, welcome to the forum, so sorry you were doored, and glad you weren't badly hurt.

Does anyone know of a place, other than the Police Dept., to report/record bike accidents?

My contribution to the discussion: Even though it's a common practice, I've always thought it was dangerous to pass stopped cars on the right when there's no separate bike lane. Dooring on the car's passenger side can happen, and also drivers turning right at the intersection are probably not going to look behind them. I was a passenger in a car recently when we luckily avoided hitting a cyclist while we were making a legal right turn on red. I couldn't really fault the driver. When I come to a stop sign or red light (on the bike), I usually occupy the lane and take my turn with the drivers who are waiting. I've wondered about the "Idaho stop" sometimes proposed. I'm OK with not having to come to a complete stop at stop signs, but if bikes are allowed go through red lights, that gives them more incentive to pass stopped cars on the right.

Addendum: I don't ride in DC, where car traffic may be backed up for blocks. If I did, I'd probably be splitting the lane, too.

ronwalf
06-16-2011, 12:24 PM
We welcome Wiley Coyote to the discussion!

I've also mounted a fishing pole to the front of my bike, just to make sure no one's erected a brick wall with a photo-realistic painting on it.

I'm glad Mattyacc reported it, and it'll be on my mind as I pass stopped traffic. However, a rare and illegal act (right-side dooring) by another party does not put a burden on you to avoid it, no more so than when a raging driver pulls a gun, or a drunk one barrels into a bike lane. These discussions always go the same way - accident deconstruction and a proliferation of conflicting advise on how this could all be avoided.

Mark Blacknell
06-16-2011, 01:48 PM
WABA has a crash reporting form here (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/451/p/salsa/web/questionnaire/public/?questionnaire_KEY=1200). We really need to do a better job of publicizing it, I think. WABA's Shane Farthing wrote a bit about it here - http://www.waba.org/blog/2011/03/waba-launches-crash-tracking-tool/

~


It was either that or punch him.

Yeah, that's something I hope we can all think through ahead of time and manage the way you did. Responding with force to an injury is about as basic an instinct there is. It's not hard for anger to take over, even when the other party is doing their best to take responsibility for the situation.

Greenbelt
06-16-2011, 02:56 PM
In my opinion, the WABA reporting form should not only be publicized, but should have some additions/ clarifications:

1. Clarify (allow) that witnesses, not just crash victims, can report -- oftentimes actual victims are not in a position to report. Of course allowing witnesses to report may result in double reporting, and responses would have to be given an "event code" by moderators for statistics. However, given the amount of underreporting that we have now, I think allowing witnesses to report would be informative.

2. Allow pictures to be uploaded, or provide an email address where pictures can be sent.

3. Allow reporting of "near misses" or other dangerous incidents. Statistics on areas with a high frequency of incidents can help predict (and maybe even fix) things that will prevent the crashes in the first place.

jrenaut
06-16-2011, 02:56 PM
You can report it at Struck in DC (https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?hl=en&formkey=dDBtbUN6TTd4VlR2RlUtcjB3bGdId3c6MQ#gid=0), a blog that tries to compile and map all the accidents in the city.

paulg
06-16-2011, 03:04 PM
The OP mentioned it was an SUV, which probably had tinted windows. I always find it harder, if not impossible, to see movement inside vehicles with tinted windows which I try to look out for when riding past lines of cars. Sometimes you can catch sight of a person making for the door, but not always.

Sorry this happened to you and glad you were mostly OK.

Mattyacc
06-16-2011, 04:23 PM
WABA has a crash reporting form here (http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/451/p/salsa/web/questionnaire/public/?questionnaire_KEY=1200).


Thanks Mark. That form is exactly what I was looking for. Bike safe out there everyone!

brendan
06-20-2011, 12:56 PM
I've debated in my mind the "best" way to split lane overtake in DC on roads with more than one lane going my direction (e.g. in georgetown). I generally do it between the two travel lanes when it appears relatively safe, and never in the door zone - and it had never occurred too me to even be looking to the left in the door zone for doors. Granted, someone could open their doors in between travel lanes too, but it seems less likely to happen...though you could get taken out by someone trying to change lanes from a stop there...

Brendan

Brendan von Buckingham
06-23-2011, 11:18 AM
The only time I've been doored was M Street (WB) in Georgetown.

I was riding between the parked cars in the right lane and moving traffic in the center lane. A cab stopped in the middle lane without pulling over and his passenger opened the passenger side door into my path. My speed was low, so my handlebar only hooked the door frame. I didn't come off the bike and wasn't hurt. But my impact was forceful enough to damage the door hinge. The door could not close and latch; just bounced open the 62 times the cabbie tried to slam the door shut.

Ever since I split the lane between center and left lane. I've never had a problem with that.