Reader Jess was biking down 12th Ave near Seattle University around 5:45 p.m. June 8 when she collided with a parked car door, sending her over her handlebars. Her injuries and hospital bills are significant, but the police report says she fell on her own.
The wreck knocked her out, so her memory of what happened is fuzzy. Without a witness, the police report will place the blame and bills on her. Anyone who saw what happened should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was in a bike accident a few weeks ago on 12th riding south toward Marion. I got nicked by a car door and thrown over my handlebars. I fell on my head and left side — cracked my helmet, broke my wrist and elbow, and road rashed up. The problem is that I was knocked out at the time and the memory of the incident is hazy.
The police report says I fell on my own, and that a guy just happened to be sitting in his SUV with the door ajar, but not in the bike lane right where I fell. No damage to my bike or to his door, and no witnesses. But this happened at 6pm on a Friday evening, so I find that really hard to believe.
It’ a long shot, but do you ever help people find witnesses to their bike crashes, or have any ideas about how I could? I kind of want to put out an APB or something, just gotta be someone who saw what happened. They probably don’t think it matters, which is what I would have thought before this happened, but will make the difference between me having to pay for all my own medical bills, or the guy who hit me paying…..
Anyway, sorry if this is off base but thought I’d give it a shot. Any thoughts or ideas welcome. I’m working with John Duggan, a great bike attorney, but his hands are tied with no witnesses and nothing else to go on…
A car occupant is legally required to check for people biking before opening a car door. If the guy in the SUV opened the door into her path, it would be his fault (and it’s very unlikely, though I suppose not impossible, that someone would just run into an open car door they had time to see).
Also at issue here, in my opinion, are poorly-designed bike lanes on 12th Ave (and many other streets in town). The bike lanes are skinny and placed directly next to parked cars. If a bike lane is 5 feet and the “door zone” is 3 feet, that does not leave enough space to bike safely.
Some cities mark the door zone in their bike lanes (as seen in the photo below taken in Santa Monica by Bicycle Fixation). The city needs to take comparable action with their door zone bike lanes (yes, this will require widening the lanes). Even experienced cyclists get doored sometimes, which is evidence that the design is simply not safe.
Such a network-wide bike lane door zone update policy would be a perfect suggestion for the Bicycle Master Plan update.