While bike lanes are nice to have, street paint isn't going to protect me when people don't expect cyclists to be there. Our riding reporter got doored while riding in the bike lane on Roosevelt Way.
Riding Reporter gets hit
Given how much time I spend in the saddle and how many bike accident horror stories have been floating around in Seattle, the question wasn't if I would get hit someday but rather when I'd get hit.
And Monday night was the answer.
I was riding home on the beautiful green bike lane on Roosevelt Way when suddenly a car door swung open right in front of me. I tried to swerve but it was too late. Next thing I know I'm launched off my bike and crash onto the unforgiving pavement. I hit my head and think, "that's why I always wear a helmet" before the pain sets in. My knees are throbbing and my shoulder's aching. I open my eyes and see various people standing over me. I roll to my side clutching my knees and try to assess my condition while answering questions. No, I don't need an ambulance. Yes, I am sure. My head's fine.
A lady shoves her purse under my head while more people run to my aid.
The woman who opened her car door stands beside me in shock. "I didn't see you. I just didn't see you," she says.
"I know. I know," I respond. "How's my bike?"
I try to get up but people tell me not to move.
"No, I'm fine. Just get me off the road," I say, and two people help me up and get me onto the sidewalk.
A man comes walking with my bike frame in one hand and my front wheel in the other while a woman hands me four tablets of ibuprofen and a bottle of juice.
Another women, the witness, has already gotten out a piece of paper and written people's names and contact info on it. And yet others are offering me rides home or to the hospital. Such kindness!
Hours later I left the hospital with my arm in a swing, and a list of prescriptions to fill. The woman who hit me had called to check in on me and apologize over and over.
Now, two days later I am stiff as a board and bummed I won't be racing my first bike race this weekend but I am not mad. I'm grateful that I was going no more than 22 miles per hour when I hit the door, and that I always wear a helmet. I'm grateful for all the people that came to my aid and for not suffering any serious injuries.
I am not mad at the woman for not looking before she opened the door. She received as big a shock as I did. This is however, yet another incident that shows that Seattle needs to look at the engineering and education of mutli-use roads.
Yes, I was in a bike lane but road paint isn't going to protect me when people don't expect me to be there. Awareness is critical. Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists all should know the rules of the road, adhere to them, and know who the other users are. I know there's a lot of anti-car and anti-bike sentiment going around, but the bottom line is that there is room for only so many roads in Seattle and we all have to share them.
Accidents happen but there are small things we can all do to prevent them.
Being doored has been my biggest fear because there's nothing more I could have done to prevent this. I always wear my helmet, ride in the bike lanes when available, have two functioning brakes, and multiple lights. When that door swung open in front of me so suddenly, there was nothing I could do.
My advice is this:
Bikers, please have multiple lights on your bike, and wear a helmet! I'm so glad I do!
Drivers, if you don't habitually check your mirrors for cyclists when exiting your vehicle, try to open your door using your right hand. This way you're more likely to look out of your window before exiting.