E-bike rider killed in North Hollywood dooring; 10th LA bicycling fatality

Dooring is one of the most common kinds of bicycling collisions, but it is rarely fatal.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, as the Daily News reports that an e-bike rider died yesterday as a result of being doored in North Hollywood.

According to the paper, the cyclist, identified only as an man apparently in his 50s, crashed into a car door on westbound Vanowen approaching Longridge Ave around 10 am Tuesday. A passenger in the parked car opened a driver’s side door into the path of the rider, who fell after crashing into it; he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The passenger remained at the scene and tried to help the victim.

It’s important to note that CVC 22517 requires any person opening a car door to wait until it is safe to do so without inferring with moving traffic. As a result, the person opening the door is almost always at fault in a dooring, whether it’s the driver of a passenger.

This is the 76th bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, which compares with the same number this time last year. It’s also the 29th cycling death in LA County since the first of the year, and the 10th in the City of Los Angeles.

My deepest sympathy and prayers for the victim and his loved ones.

20 comments

  1. I don’t understand why we don’t put our bike lanes outside the parallel parking lanes instead of inside. That would solve 98% of the problem, and yet no one even puts it on the table. Enlighten me? Please!?

  2. PatrickGSR94 says:

    ughhh when are these clueless street designers and traffic engineers going to learn that door zone bike lines are DEADLY??

    Stephen are you referring to having the bike lane to the right of the parked cars? That opens up a whole other can of worms, most notably car passengers on the right side of the car opening doors into the bike lane, plus the fact that bikes are completely hidden from motor traffic in the general traffic lanes. Separated lanes to the right of parked cars is a BAD idea no matter how you try to implement it!

    • I’d be more inclined to believe you if it hadn’t already been implemented with great success in many of the most bikable cities around the world. Take a look at Copenhagen’s streets. All the bike lanes are separated from traffic by a row of parked cars. And yes, I agree, cyclists can still be doored by passengers, but given that the passenger has a lot less to pay attention to than the driver does, I’m willing to bet they would be more careful than the drivers are. Not always. But enough to make a difference.

      • PatrickGSR94 says:

        CPH is a completely different culture than the US with regards to transportation. I think most of the separated bike paths have some amount of space between any parked cars and the actual path itself. Junctions are treated differently than in the US, and cyclists are given priority over motorists pretty much everywhere, with the motorist automatically assumed at fault unless proven otherwise in the event of a collision or conflict. What they have works for them, but transplanting those designs to the US will never work. The culture will have to change, and I don’t see that happening in our lifetimes.

        I know of several places around Memphis with bike lanes behind rows of parked cars, and in every case it is just bad. From cars halfway into the bike lane to tons of debris strewn throughout the lane. I avoid those at all costs because I am more fearful for my own safety when trying to ride through those facilities than I am in normal bike lanes.

      • Brent says:

        Incidentally, the Copenhagen separation I saw on a visit in 2010 varied. Sometimes it was parked cars, sometimes a “three-level” system (one level each for cars, cyclists, pedestrians), and sometimes just painted bike lanes. I think the car-separation technique you mention has been tried most successfully in NYC, where it seems to be working admirably. Of course, no one compares to the Dutch, who have been able to make incredible use of their small streets to provide for every sort of transportation.

    • bikinginla says:

      Is there a bike lane on Vanowen? It doesn’t show up in Google’s satellite view or the street view.

  3. Jen says:

    Without excusing the behavior of the driver, I think another side of this issue is education of cyclists themselves. Even though they are not at fault when they get doored, they are the ones who are injured, in this case fatally. I always know to stay out of the “door zone” when I see a car parked on the side of the road, whether it takes me out of the bike lane or not.

    As far as a bike lane separated by parked cars, I’m not sure how comfortable I would be riding in a lane like this. As stated before, what works in a culture where cycling is more common will not necessary work here. People tend to leave debris and obstacles in bike lanes, and many cyclists themselves tend to ignore directional arrows in bike lanes and ride against the flow of traffic. I would feel blocked in if the bike lane was separated like this, with no escape from obstacles, and prefer to take my chances riding in traffic.

    My condolences to the friends and family of the cyclist.

  4. What a tragedy. I just took a depo where the defendant couldn’t wrap his head around the idea that cyclists are required to ride as far to the right as practicable, and that drivers can only open their doors when safe. He just couldn’t admit that it was his fault that he doored my client.

    Still – why was the passenger opening the door? Was the driver approaching it? Odd…

    • bikinginla says:

      I’m assuming the passenger was exiting from the back seat and seated on the left side. Which could prove problematic as the case moves forward, as there’s an argument that the back seat lacks a mirror, which limits the passengers ability to see far enough behind if the cyclist was traveling at speed — which is likely given the severity of the injuries.

      I’m always amazed at the number of drivers who have no clue of their responsibility to open their door safely. I once saw an SUV driver throw open her massive door in front of traffic on a narrow street, angering the drivers who had to slam on their brakes to avoid it. When I tried to explain the need to check traffic before opening a car door, she screamed “I’ve got a right to get out of my fucking car!” before storming off.

    • PatrickGSR94 says:

      Cyclists are not required to ride far to the right when avoiding the door zone of parked cars. Sure the person in the car would be at fault, but best to not put yourself in that situation by putting your trust in motorists and depending on them to always look before opening doors. Because obviously that doesn’t always happen.

  5. JD says:

    Our prayers go up for the family and friends of thd victim.

  6. Mark says:

    To Bikinginla: This website is doing a disservice to cyclists. While your tracking of fatalities is useful, your pro-cyclist attitude it harming the cyclist. Stating the law that it is the driver’s responsibility to look before they open a car door only makes cyclists, such as me, get upset and blame the driver, something that is not going to change. Besides, I don’t think the vast majority of people reading this website are motorists only. How about offering a way to avoid these accidents. Like, telling cyclist that they need to ride in the lane to avoid getting “doored”. Or advise them to take a safety class because this type of cycling accident is discussed in about every website about bike safety. That would be useful. But this website only serves as a media outlet to get something off your chest while you are getting sponsorship. I think it is Bikinginla that also needs a change.

    • bikinginla says:

      Thank you for your comment. However, I have often spoken of the need for cyclists to ride outside of the door zone, and frequently link to upcoming bike safety classes. If you look at the top of the site, I also have a page titled Survival Tactics offering safety advice for bike riders.

      And I will never, ever apologize for supporting cyclists, who make up the overwhelming majority of visitors to this site. That does not mean, however, that bike riders are always right. I have often written about what riders have done wrong that may have contributed to a collision, and offered advice on how to avoid it.

      In this particular case, the rider may have been better off riding outside of the door zone. Unfortunately, though, many bike riders will never do that for fear of being in the way of motor vehicles and angering their drivers. And it does not absolve the driver of responsibility in this, or any other, dooring case. While it is safer to ride outside the door zone, cyclists are not legally required to do so; on the other hand, drivers are legally required to only open the door when they can do so safely, which this driver clearly failed to do.

      As for sponsorships, the advertisers on this site, and those who have contributed to it, support BikinginLA because they believe in the work we are doing to provide bike news, advocacy and information to help keep cyclists safer. And trust me, whatever income I’ve received from it would not equal a fraction of the minimum wage for the amount time I spend working on it.

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