As cyclists in this city know, getting doored happens more often that you think it does. Just last weekend our very own fearless blogger KevMo was doored by taxi on Sanchez St, which resulted in a swollen knee and a higher than usual bar tab later that night. I was doored by SFPD on my birthday 2 years ago. Commuters and messengers get doored on Market street on a weekly basis. But not everyone walks away with only minor injuries and a dented front wheel when they get doored. Recently, San Francisco resident Melissa Moore had a harrowing experience on Polk Street which left her in immense pain. As she told Streetsblog:
Just before 9am, I was going east on McAllister about to turn left onto Polk Street. I waited for a car to take a right onto Polk before I made my turn. About halfway up the block, the car pulled into the bike lane in front of me and then parked (despite the fact that there was an available driveway less than 10 feet in front of him). I maneuvered out into the street to circumvent the car. When I reached the driver side, he swung open his door into my bike. (I later learned that the door caught my right pedal.) I crashed into the street, pretzeled with my bike. There was a white flash and a feeling of something snapping, then darkness. I heard muffled voices asking if I was okay. Unable to speak or move for a couple minutes, I searched for my breath and assessed if the snapping was my spine breaking. It hurt immensely and I expressed that to the anonymous voices. The driver asked if I wanted him to call the police and I said “yes.” Then I felt hands on me, pulling me up off the ground.
Melissa goes on to recount when the police came, her going to the hospital, etc., but the worst is what happened when she filed a claim with the drivers insurance company, Geico. They claimed that she was 20% at fault in this accident because, as Geico puts it, she "failed to control [her] speed in order to avoid an accident and lost control of [her] bicycle."
Let that sink in for a minute. A cyclist, going uphill on Polk street, failed to control her speed, and crashed into a door.
I don't personally know Melissa, so I don't know how fast she is on a bike or how strong a of climber she is, but I'm betting that she did not accelerate into the door while sprinting uphill on her mountain bike. And I know that I am not wrong because there is a video of the entire accident. Watch for yourself:
As you can see, she suddenly accelerates to Lance Armstrong on EPO speeds and completely rips off the drivers side door due to the force of the impact, all while screaming HULK SMASH. Or at least that's what Geico sees this as. Unbelievable.
I'd also like to point out that California Vehicle Code 22517, as mentioned in the Streetsblog article, is very ambiguous. While the code states that you cannot open your car door into traffic unless it's safe to do so, it offers no protection for cyclists who have to weave in and out of traffic because of drivers that do stop in the bike lane, taxi or private car. It does, however, does apply when a cyclist is riding to the right of the car in a non-designated bike lane, like on Market St. This law was made to protect cyclists, but it cannot protect cyclists in all situations, so what could be changed to better protect cyclists like Melissa and everyone else who rides bikes?