I got “doored”

For the first time! Almost one year commuting pretty much daily to work through Seattle and this is the first time my bicycle and I have come in contact with a vehicle. That seems pretty good.

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[photo taken AFTER the incident] 

This morning I was riding as usual, loving this chilly and sunny morning (finally some blue skies!). I got to this one of the parts of my commute that always makes me a bit nervious. I’m approaching the intersection of Melrose and Denny (riding on Melrose and heading north). Most of the cars are going to turn left at the light, but I’m going straight and it’s “sort of” two lanes. I mean “sort of” in the sense that cars are parked by the curb in the second lane, but once you are closer to the light most people just use that second lane to either turn right or go straight.

So I often end up riding in the door zone, prior to getting to the light, and there are usually cars driving next to me on my left side. I always look for people in the parked cars and be alert and ready to use my breaks.

I’ve imagined what it would like to be doored. I’ve wondered what I would say or do and how much it would hurt. I’ve also wondered how it even happens. Wouldn’t you just react and move out of the way? Surely if you are paying attention you have enough warning.

Not today. Today I was riding and pretty much immediately as I come along side the car, I sense (more than see) the door opening. There is a moving vehicle to my left (closely) so swerving out of the way isn’t an option. Luckily I was going slow and had my hands on the breaks already. I braced for impact.

The most surprising thing was the sound. And the fact that it didn’t hurt. I hit the door with my right thigh/knee and my pinkie finger. The bike also crashed into the door (that had to have been what made the sound), but only the handlebars made impact. My finger ended up getting smashed between the door any my break lever. My bike tipped over, but we didn’t fall.

I think I yelled something like “Door!” or “Doored!” right before impact. Not really sure. The guy looked really scared/surprised/confused. I moved over to the sidewalk to check out the damage. My chain fell off, that’s it. The guy just got out of his car and started to walk away, as if nothing had happned. It was weird. So I called out, “Hey man, how’s your door?”.

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