Update: Bicycle rider collides with car door, taken to hospital

February 2, 2012 at 12:19 pm | In West Seattle news, WS breaking news | 53 Comments

(UPDATED 2:51 PM with new information on injuries, circumstances)

12:19 PM: South of Morgan Junction, California SW is partly blocked near SW Myrtle (by Caffe Ladro; map) because of an incident involving a bicyclist. We’re at the scene to find out more.

12:25 PM UPDATE: Police tell us the bicyclist was heading southbound on California – uphill – south of the intersection when he collided with a car door. The rider was going to be transported by private ambulance, but then was moved to a medic unit. We don’t yet know the extent of his injuries.

12:32 PM UPDATE: The scene is clearing, and California SW is fully open again, according to our crew at the scene.

2:51 PM UPDATE: Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Kyle Moore tells WSB the bike rider is 30 years old and “was traveling approximately 25 miles an hour down the street when a car door opened in front of him causing him to flip over the door. He was not wearing a helmet. He remained conscious and responsive but could not remember the accident. He also had some facial lacerations. Our medics treated him and transported him to Harborview in stable condition.”

53 Comments

  1. Oh dear. “Medic unit” is indicative of an more serious injury, no?
    .
    Please don’t let’s start a string of comments deriding cyclists. Please. Doorings are serious.

    Comment by amalia — 12:54 pm February 2, 2012 #

  2. Amalia – I actually already have declined to approve one such comment. No blaming victims, no anti-bikes OR anti-cars, we’re just not going there. Somebody is hurt and going to the hospital. The traffic alert, main reason we checked this out, is over. We’ll add any additional info we get – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:02 pm February 2, 2012 #

  3. I hope the biker is OK.

    I have seen this problem as a driver as well; quite startling when a car door opens as I drive by. I wish drivers would pay attention to traffic flow when getting both out of and into their cars. These kinds of accidents are avoidable!

    Comment by tlw — 1:08 pm February 2, 2012 #

  4. I hope both cyclist and the driver of the vehicle are okay. I’m sure the driver is pretty shaken up.

    Comment by K — 1:12 pm February 2, 2012 #

  5. I sure hope the bike rider is OK. That’s one of my biggest fears as a bike rider – the dreaded dooring.

    When I’m driving I try to be aware of the bikers on the road and look once more in the side mirror before I open that door.

    Comment by Kate K — 1:16 pm February 2, 2012 #

  6. When a cyclist is doored they are commonly thrown into the line of traffic where they may be run over.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 1:52 pm February 2, 2012 #

  7. Thanks, TR, for using “incident” and “collision” instead of “accident.” Sad that the haters were the first to show up. Would definitely appreciate an update if one becomes available.
    .
    It’s one of my fears too, Kate. I wouldn’t EVER open my car door without checking the sideview mirror. I even do it at night on my empty sidestreet out of habit, but there are plenty of people don’t even think about it. We must be vigilant always (as you know). Cycling is not a relaxing form of transportation in the city.
    .
    It’s always my hope that these incidents will somehow serve to unite cyclists and drivers rather than divide them.

    Comment by amalia — 1:57 pm February 2, 2012 #

  8. Worth mentioning too is the roadway itself I recall this same thing happened close to the West Seattle post office between Oregon and Genesee within the past year or so. Stay off this BUSY ,and its going to get a whole lot BUSIER with the near influx of available rental units, roadway if you are on a bicycle or jogging for that matter. Please go two blocks east or west or take an extra 15 minutes and commute around inaccessible busy areas.

    Comment by DF — 2:26 pm February 2, 2012 #

  9. DF, on that particular stretch, which I know well because we live up the hill about a mile east, there isn’t any real north/south alternative to the west or east. Once you get to Othello, you can take – is it 43rd or 44th? – but it’s a narrow road and while little-traveled, a car can come out of nowhere. (My son and I used to walk that stretch often.) The ravines and hills right there at the ascent turn everything else into dead-ends or west-east only. California has a dedicated bike lane on the hill – striped a year or two ago (we had a short story) – and that would have been right where the cyclist was riding. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 2:39 pm February 2, 2012 #

  10. I heard just a couple bits of scanner traffic about this incident. They said the cyclist hadn’t lost consciousness but was disoriented and confused. Obviously that’s not good, but it probably wasn’t horrible either.

    Comment by Jay — 2:50 pm February 2, 2012 #

  11. How many of us got our drivers license twenty years ago or more? I do not recall any elements of the test focusing on driving with bicycles harmoniously:) seriously i think we need to be doing something to educate the general (non-cyclers)public on the laws regarding bicycles. I dont ride a bike i have no desire to. But i dont want to harm anyone that does. So lets add a drivers refresher to driving with bikes. (at renewal)?But also get the cyclists to ride responsibly as well or be able to be cited.Most of all I hope the rider today is ok and makes a quick recovery. I also hope the driver is ok. So scary for all involved.

    Comment by Cclarue — 2:58 pm February 2, 2012 #

  12. Jay – I have added more info to the story, provided by Seattle Fire, which would seem to speak to that point – TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:02 pm February 2, 2012 #

  13. Fauntleroy Way SW left on Juneau to 37th then south all the way aside from a block or two to Thistle. Little bit of a hill climb but nothing too major for the seasoned Seattle cyclist. All it takes is a little forethought.

    Comment by DF — 3:15 pm February 2, 2012 #

  14. This is one reason I really hate the new bike channels; it forces cyclists closer to the doors. It’s a retrofit on existing infrastructure, but I would hope that they can widen more roads to provide actual real separation between all three modes (pedestrian-bike-car/bus) and not just a painted line.

    Regardless, I hope the injuries aren’t serious or life-changing.

    Comment by Tracy White — 3:15 pm February 2, 2012 #

  15. Sorry to hear about this collision, and best wishes for a full recovery.

    Dooring is always a danger if you ride in the door zone — roughly 3 to 4 feet from the parked cars where you’re at risk of getting hit by a carelessly opened door. You should position yourself a minimum of 4 to 5 feet from parked vehicles whenever possible, even if that puts you in the traffic lane; you are not required to ride further to the right if it puts you in danger (RCW 46.61.770). However, not all police officers correctly understand that clause, so it’s still possible to be ticketed even though you are in full observance of the law.

    Other than proper road position, the key to avoiding a dooring is to keep a constant watch on the parked vehicles to your right. Look for heads inside or visible in the side mirror, lighted tail or parking lights, and front wheels angled away from the curb; all of which can indicate that someone may be about to open the door or pull away from the curb without warning.

    Drivers are required to verify that it is safe to open a driver’s side door without interfering with other traffic (RCW 46.61.620) and yes, bicycles are legally considered traffic, just like cars. As a result, the driver is almost always at fault in a dooring. Always check your mirror and blind spot before opening a car door; a good habit is to open the door with your right hand, which forces you to look left while you open it.

    Comment by bikinginla — 3:34 pm February 2, 2012 #

  16. Out of curiosity I’ve never really seen a bicyclist in my left side mirror, is it easy for them to be in a blind spot or are they pretty noticeable coming up to you? I could imagine these types of “crashes” being serious especially considering how fast bikes can get going (25mph seems super fast to crash into something at a stand still) :-( I hope the biker is ok and the driver of the car not too shaken up as well.

    Comment by Casey — 3:39 pm February 2, 2012 #

  17. All drivers need to be careful when opening their door, wherever they are. Obviously it’s much more serious when a bike is involved, but I’ve had doors suddenly flung open when I’m driving by and have felt the need to swerve. Just in their own self-interest, you’d think drivers wouldn’t want to risk having their door damaged, so I don’t understand why this is such a problem. I hope the bike rider is okay.

    Comment by me2 — 3:48 pm February 2, 2012 #

  18. Some 50 yrs ago my father took the door off a car on Calif. ave with his car. He thought he had taken the women’s arm off. Everyone should look before opening a car door into traffic. It is dangerous.

    Comment by bebecat — 3:48 pm February 2, 2012 #

  19. DF – Bicycles are traffic, and have equal right to use roads as cars, especially busy ones, which are usually the most direct route. Suggesting cyclists take alternative routes to avoid accidents is a type of victim blaming. Alternate routes are often more dangerous, as cars aren’t expecting bikes on side roads.

    Also “dooring” a bicycle became illegal in WA recently. I hope the driver received a infraction for his/her negligence.

    “open the door of a motor vehicle on the side adjacent 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 adjacent to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.[RCW 46.61.620]“

    Comment by vincent — 3:54 pm February 2, 2012 #

  20. Re: the speed – if that was indeed the speed (and obviously it would be an estimate from witnesses) … one thing to keep in mind if you don’t know that stretch of California so well, it’s right at the start of a steep uphill. I rode long, long, long ago and recall that being a situation in which you try to gather some momentum first (we see people actually chugging up the hill sometimes and I so admire them, that requires legs etc. of absolute steel!). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:05 pm February 2, 2012 #

  21. I bicycle all the time and am also a car driver. No way was the cyclist going 25 mph. That’s a competitive racing speed on flat pavement, as in a race. If this was an uphill, I doubt they were going over 15 mph. On a flat they might reach 20 mph over time, but not if they had stopped for a light or made a turn within 3-5 blocks. If the only place I can ride is within the door zone, I will take the lane and ride with the cars. In other words, I avoid the door zone. I’m still here.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 4:19 pm February 2, 2012 #

  22. No helmet? First rule of cycling…

    Comment by Albert — 4:45 pm February 2, 2012 #

  23. It’s a gentle slope there, but it’s unlikely the cyclist was going 25 mph, that would be impossible for all but elite cyclists. On flats I can maintain 16-17 mph, much much slower uphill.
    -
    When I ride I’m always looking at the cars parked ahead to see if there are people in them. If I see peopel in a parked car, I switch to the main traffic lane to pass.
    -
    Helmets and lights, friends, helmets and lights.

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 4:49 pm February 2, 2012 #

  24. Casey, I always check over my shoulder before opening my door, in addition to checking my mirror. Just as if I were about to change lanes. Better safe.

    Comment by datamuse — 5:09 pm February 2, 2012 #

  25. Nothing replaces a visual check, don’t rely on the view through any mirror, ever. A reminder to all of us, please be aware of all forms of traffic!

    Comment by M. — 5:43 pm February 2, 2012 #

  26. 25 MPH at that location pretty hard to achieve under leg power. That cyclist is STRONG! Let’s hope that strength helps get them thru the recuperation period.

    Comment by bolo — 5:43 pm February 2, 2012 #

  27. On occasion I’ve had cyclists shoot from the parking lane into traffic lane a second after I’ve checked my mirror. Fortunately in all cases I rechecked again just before opening my door. As a long time motorcycle rider I just learned to be extra cautious. BTW, does the term “dooring” imply fault on the drivers side of the issue?

    Comment by Rick — 6:02 pm February 2, 2012 #

  28. Well Vincent that’s where you and I differ partner I for the most part do not use California on my bicycle and prefer side streets. And here is where we probably differ even more, I often use the sidewalk. This evening 5:30 pm bright after sunset skies and below dark with people about in yeah you got dark clothing and few lights. Like the lights Peter. Flashlights even for pedestrians. Keep pedaling :)

    Comment by DF — 6:09 pm February 2, 2012 #

  29. Rick, if a cyclist did what you describe, they would have avoided you dooring them. We enter or ride in the traffic lane to avoid what we call the “door zone.” And as clearly referenced above, dooring is the result of an illegal action on the driver’s part.

    Comment by amalia — 6:10 pm February 2, 2012 #

  30. I know the the 30 year old in the incident that happend today. He doesn’t remember much but is doing good. He had to have some x-rays and I am waiting to hear more. Please keep him in your prayers.

    Comment by me — 6:27 pm February 2, 2012 #

  31. Thanks, “Me.” Please update us on how he’s doing if you get new info later tonight or tomorrow.

    Comment by WSB — 6:29 pm February 2, 2012 #

  32. Thanks, me. Sending good thoughts…

    Comment by amalia — 6:54 pm February 2, 2012 #

  33. Repeat. Although a fireman said the cyclist was doing 25 mph, the fireman likely didn’t know what he was talking about. The cyclist likely was not doing 25 mph. If he was an elite cyclist he wouldn’t have been going that fast in the door zone. Us bicycle commuters rarely have enough time between lights accelerate enough. Also, even at 15 mph I can get downtown quicker than a car during most hours because although a car can go 35 mph legally, congestion and lights brings the average down to 15 mph or less. Those of us who use bicycles for transportation rarely ride on the sidewalk.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 7:39 pm February 2, 2012 #

  34. Amalia,sorry, I should have said a cyclist riding in the parking lane,then shooting around a(the)cars parked behind me as I prepared to open my door. I understand the intentional opening of a door to be malicious and illegal, but wanted to know if the term implied fault on the vehicle or was a general term for car/door incidents.

    Comment by Rick — 9:03 pm February 2, 2012 #

  35. Rick, yes, when a cyclist is doored it is the fault of the motorist because as a car driver it is your responsibility to check the traffic lane BEFORE you open the door. This is specifically why I ride well clear of the “door” zone, so about 5 feet out from parked cars. And, 25 mph at that area? I had no idea Philippe Gilbert was training here :)

    Comment by JN — 9:17 pm February 2, 2012 #

  36. I would prefer people not automatically use the term “illegal” when describing “dooring.” While it is the law to check and not open your door into the path of another, I would imagine in the VAST majority of the cases it was done out of negligence and not malice.
    -
    Saying “the driver did something illegal” is emotionally charging the issue and presuming action or motive without knowing the circumstances. A thoughtless or careless act shouldn’t be treated the same as a malicious act. Yes, it’s serious, but we’ve all made careless mistakes.

    Comment by Tracy White — 10:02 pm February 2, 2012 #

  37. I was once nearly doored on Alaska while riding my bike. I turned to yell at the driver only to see it was one of my best friends, a kind generous woman. She was unaware that she nearly put me in the hospital. I didn’t say anything.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 10:38 pm February 2, 2012 #

  38. As a biker, I hope that the everyone is ok. But seriously people wear a helmet.

    Comment by MyEye — 11:44 pm February 2, 2012 #

  39. Tracy, calling a dooring “illegal” is just as accurate as describing a cyclist or pedestrian being hit by an inattentive driver as an “accident”. Neither description is particularly accurate, but they are used nonetheless.

    Comment by JN — 11:57 pm February 2, 2012 #

  40. @ “bikinginla” — great comment and very informative — thank you. I hope the bike rider recov ers; sounds like a concussion — no laughing matter, as these kind of injuries can be permanent. Hopefully we will all think of the advice and comment of “bikinginla.”

    Comment by (required) — 1:51 am February 3, 2012 #

  41. Thoughtless and careless illegal acts are just as illegal as if they were carried out with intent. Ignorance is no excuse.

    Comment by questionable — 6:34 am February 3, 2012 #

  42. Tracy:
    negligent = illegal in this case. That’s just the way it is.

    Comment by amalia — 7:23 am February 3, 2012 #

  43. As long as people have brought up negligence we should look at the fact the the cyclist was not wearing a helmet which I believe is illegal in itself. That’s also just the way it is. It is like a motorist who gets in a wreck that chose to break the law and not wear a seat belt

    Comment by M — 8:10 am February 3, 2012 #

  44. Rules reminder. Way too many online discussions get nasty because of victim-blaming, and we don’t do that here. You shouldn’t have left your (whatever) in your car and it wouldn’t have gotten stolen, you shouldn’t have been walking down a dark street at night and you wouldn’t have gotten attacked, etc. The point has been made that the victim was not wearing a helmet. Whether he was or was not would not have changed the fact that a car door opened and, according to SFD, he went into and over it. It obviously might have changed the severity of his injuries, which we don’t know and probably won’t unless somebody offers an update (I don’t have access to a name to use to check with the hospital and because of privacy laws, there’s no guarantee they’d be able to answer a media inquiry anyway). I am following up this morning with SPD on whether anyone was cited in this, but aside from that – somebody is in the hospital. The helmet point has been made and it won’t be veering here into another form of cars-vs-bikes. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 8:23 am February 3, 2012 #

  45. Sorry I have not gotten back to you with an update sooner. I have been reading the other comments and as a person who is close to the victim it is hard to comment with things going out of hand. Can we talk about facts now?

    The bicyclist that was injured yesterday finds himself very lucky. I spoke with him last night when he was home from the hospital. He has some lacerations on his head, stitches on hand, and pretty banged up. He does not remember much about the incident he was in. All he remembers is the door opening and then the light and the E.M.Ts in the medic car. His family was called by the hospital including myself. At this point he is home and resting. And yes he is going to get a helmet for future rides. He also realizes that it could have been much worse. He has two kids, a boy (19 months) and a girl (4yr old), and he said all he could think about is how he would have not seen them again if it was worse. I will be visiting him later today.

    Comment by Me — 12:03 pm February 3, 2012 #

  46. Thanks for the update. As someone who was doored many years ago, I know how it feels. In my case I do remember every detail, and most notably the moment after it happened… the driver looked at me on the ground, then at his door and said “I think it’s broken”. You can only imagine how I felt at that moment. Thankfully, it was in a different city and I hope that Seattle remains the civil place it usually is.

    Comment by vlado — 1:27 pm February 3, 2012 #

  47. Glad to hear he’s recovering — hopefully it will be quick.
    I understand peoples frustrations from both sides; we all have horror stories. However, this is a very specific incident and needs to be recognized as just that, and in turn should raise awareness regardless of if your drive/bike/drive & bike. Point is, don’t demonize one “side” or the other and try to take it one step further to empathize. We all need to cooperate while on the same road and blame games just cause more problems.

    Comment by interrobang — 2:08 pm February 3, 2012 #

  48. I have worked in Rehab for more than 25 years. Specialty in head injury. I have seen countless individuals with deficits (physical and cognitive) following bike accidents. Even a mild head injury (i.e. “concussion”) can have a long-lasting, negative impact on daily functioning.
    Please, please, please wear a bike helmet.

    Comment by norsk girl — 2:10 pm February 3, 2012 #

  49. Thank you interrobang very well put cooperation, right on I will continuing that while riding bicycle. I have had a number of concussions on bicycle and other endeavors and they can take awhile to completely recover. Take care to the individual who was injured.

    Comment by DF — 2:53 pm February 3, 2012 #

  50. Thanks DF. I will pass on the well wishes.

    Comment by Me — 3:00 pm February 3, 2012 #

  51. thank you to everyone for all your concern,I saw him today from noon until 3pm,he will be fine,he is pretty sore,has a sore on his eye lid ,scraps around his eye,stiches in his lip with a chip tooth and a stiched up hand.His face is still swallon.He will recover in no time,LOL!he already has his bike parts that are not repairable off in order to get them fixed.He will be wearing a helment from here on .we would like to thank the person who delivered his bike to his home that was very kind of you ,for that bike is his only form of transpirtation and his love for the out doors.Thank you again for all your prayers and concern ~God Bless~

    Comment by friend — 10:42 pm February 3, 2012 #

  52. Doors are becoming a major issue!!! I can’t believe how many people just swing their door open into traffic!! OR, getting their child out of the car on traffic side and just leaving both doors open! With the narrow streets and bike lanes people need to wake up and THINK!! How the man heals fully.

    Comment by rmp — 7:47 am February 4, 2012 #

  53. You can’t get to mad at the people who have kids. I have a 19 month old who for safety reasons is behind the passenger side of the card do to the room you need to appropriately put in his car set. When I have to park on the street there are times I have to get him out on the street side. I watch people like a hawk when doing that. You can not cross all lanes of traffic to park the wrong way. People need to watch a lot more because things change faster that a blink of an eye.

    Comment by me — 9:21 am February 4, 2012 #

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