Just got this email from Jeffrey Nerdin:
FYI – There was a bike/auto accident in front of the Skirball Center on Sepulveda Boulevard around 9:00 this morning when a motorist stopped to let a passenger out of the car while in a lane of traffic (stopped either at a stoplight or in slow traffic). The passenger in the car opened his door into the bike lane and a cyclist hit the door, shattered the window and suffered (at least) significant cuts to his face. (I arrived after the cyclist had already been loaded on the stretcher and was headed to the ambulance, but I didn’t get the impression that his injuries were life-threatening.) I don’t know the cyclist, but I see him regularly as we both commute daily by bike along Sepulveda between Ventura Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard. If you have a chance, please warn motorists and pedestrians to be very careful when crossing over or into the bike lane, either by driving, walking, or opening a door into the lane, and cyclists to avoid riding any closer than necessary to a lane of traffic. You never know what might pop out in front of you.
Unfortunately, as this incident shows, cyclists risk dooring from either side.
We train ourselves to ride at least three feet to the left of parked cars — and many experts recommend five to keep out of the reach of massive SUV doors — and to watch for the brake lights, drivers or passengers inside the car and partially open doors that could suggest a door may open or a vehicle could pull out into our path.
Yet we risk dooring from the vehicles moving on our left, as well.
In that case, we must depend on them to maintain a safe distance, and check their mirrors and blind spots before pulling over or allowing passengers to get out. Because few things are as dangerous or terrifying as having a door suddenly fling open in front of you when you’ve got nowhere to go.
And as CVC 22517 makes clear, hitting a bike rider with an open door, making a rider collide with an open door or causing a collision by forcing a rider to avoid a vehicle door is virtually always the motorist’s fault.
As the writer suggests, drivers and pedestrians should always be on the lookout for bikes on the right of the roadway. And especially where there’s a bike lane, which should always suggest the presence of bike riders, just as a crosswalk implies the possible presence of pedestrians.
Because failing to do so can have needlessly tragic results.
Let’s hope the rider makes a full and fast recovery. And the right people are held accountable.
Update: I’ve credited Jeffrey Nerdin as the person who emailed me and took the photos above, after getting permission to use his name.
A comment below provides the identity of the victim, as well as a few more details:
Rider is Roland Sunga. He blacked out for about ten minutes. Passenger driver opened door to get out of vehicle. Roland was traveling 30 mph and flew 20 ft. No time to react and that means no time to tense up which he says saved his life. Very lucky as he rides Sepulveda daily. Thank you.