I've Been DOORED!
0 comment Thursday, August 7, 2014 |
I was really looking forward to posting tonight. I had a really cool week of bike commute related adventures that took me to the US Capitol, the Rails to Trails office, and Union Station for all sorts of business, and to meet all kinds of exciting people. However, those posts will have to wait.
This afternoon, while taking my lunch break to head to the bank, I got doored by someone exiting a cab on K street. First off, besides some bruises, scrapes, and that "rattled" feeling, I'm going to be fine. Here's how I remember it happening:
I was riding along the Westbound "service road" part of K street specifically because the traffic is lighter and the speeds are slower. K street has four lanes that are essentially limited access highway in the middle, and one lane on either side that caters to more regional traffic. I was going about eight or ten mph, and there was a taxi stopped in the lane ahead, blocking traffic. There were three or four cars behind, so it looked like he'd been there a little while, and there was about a five foot gap on the right hand side between the cab and some parked cars. I was slowing down to go through the gap. When I was alongside the taxi, the door opened quickly, and while I tried to steer right and brake, the door just kept opening to it's widest, catching my left hand. I smashed my hand pretty soundly into the edge of the door as I started to endo. I must have smacked into the parked sedan pretty hard, because I dented the hell out of it, but I don't know what hit it, probably my shoulder. The sedan took most of the force, and I didn't even scuff my right hand, which I landed on, along with my elbow.

K Street has two "service roads" along either side. I was going down the Westbound one, when a taxi's door (yellow rectangle) opened, knocking me into the adjacent black sedan (black rectangle).
After that it's kind of a blur, I was on the ground holding my mashed left hand, and the passenger was asking if I was alright and if he should call an ambulance. I must have told him yes, I was seeing stars, so I don't remember exactly. Someone helped disentangle me from my bike, and I remember asking the cab driver for his name and insurance, which he refused to give me because "it's all your fault, all of you ride like this" (heavily accented). I sat on the ground for a while, hands shaking from adrenaline. I must have taken off my helmet, which I was happy to have had on that afternoon, though I wished I hadn't left the gloves at the office for my afternoon errands.
Someone helped me walk over to an empty bike rack, and I locked my bike up, and then I got in the ambulance to go to the hospital. Partway to the hospital, I asked the guy what the ambulance ride was going to set me back, and he told me about $800. I asked them to pull over and told them I was turning down the ride. I got doored by a cab, I didn't also want to lose hundreds of dollars in the same trip. The hospital was only four blocks from where I got hit, so I walked the remaining block to the ER.
Outside, I started to get nervous, what if the owner of the sedan came after me for damages, what if the cab came after me for damages? I wasn't sure I should even go to the hospital, but I thought I ought to tell someone, so I called Karen, who told me I should go get checked out. I was still nervous, so I called some pals at the League of American Bicyclists, and then WABA, who looked up the bike laws, and based on everything described above, told me that both the taxi driver and passenger had erred. This helped to reassure my frazzled nerves, and I went into the ER.
The police came to the ER a little later, and told me they had cited the passenger for not looking before opening his door into a lane of traffic. I now know that this is illegal based on DC title 18 (2214.4), and that I was indeed correct in traveling as far to the right as practicable (1201.2), and that I'm also allowed to overtake stopped and slowing vehicles either in the same lane or by switching lanes. All that said, I wish I'd taken a closer look into that guys back window, I might have been able to predict the actions of the occupant a little bit better, and I wouldn't be aching in bed.
I got an X-ray of my hand, and nothing is broken, though it's fairly swollen on the index finger. My left arm is pretty banged up with scratches, bruises, and a big goose egg. My clothes were messed up, and the bike will probably need new brake levers, tape, seat, possibly a bar, fork and wheel truing.
I'm still wondering about my confidence. Karen came to the hospital, and we walked to get my bike, then to get milkshakes. We put the bike on a bus rack and took the number 42 bus home.
It sucks to get doored, but I'm glad I have wonderful people in my life like Karen to take care of me when I get mangled somehow.
Final thought for this post, I went to a press conference this morning featuring Earl Blumenauer. He was talking about the necessity of having a VMT or carbon tax to fund the transportation trust fund (it's currently in deficit), and improve transportation infrastructure for all users. A reporter asked what the tax impact would be on the average household, making the point that this is a tax increase. This is where Earl exploded, "They're already paying! They're paying with their health, they're paying with wasted fuel, wasted time, and in some cases, they're paying with their lives. Make no mistake, addressing these problems (in transportation) by properly funding our needed improvements will save every family money." Today Earl, I can especially agree.