Doored! Odd Circumstances…

Background Reading


‘Door Zone’ Love?

Nothing Odd Here Folks! A Garden Variety Dumb Move

Posted by Tandemonium on July 20, 2014 at 6:40pm

“I” was doored on Saturday 7/20. This is the first time I have been doored in my life, in over 4yrs commuting in Chicago with over 20k miles ridden. Plenty of close calls under my belt but I have to say, I didn’t expect my first time with these circumstances…

My wife and I had house guests this weekend, married friends and their son who is 10 years old. While they were in town, they wanted to ride around the city being cyclists themselves and go to Lincoln Park Zoo. My wife and I lent them some of our N+1 bikes for the weekend. Given their son’s age, his only option was to ride with me on the back of our tandem. So, the 5 of us headed out on our 4 bikes – and now you know why “I” was doored… it was a group activity.

Everything was going well, the group had stopped by Wrigley Field and was headed down Clark towards the zoo. We were riding about 12-14mph given the nature of the group. The kid and I were in the lead at Clark/Deming when it happened. We were riding toward the left side of the marked bike lane when I saw a car door start to open about 1ft in front of the front wheel. I had no time to react.

Knowing the real danger is getting hit by a car behind you, I white knuckled the brakes and moved a little to the left. I knew we would make some contact, thankfully it was only the kitty litter panier on the back right side. I still don’t know how the door missed the kid’s right leg and only hit the panier. When the kitty litter bucket hit we were still moving at a decent speed and the impact stopped us instantly. Thank God the kid was holding on and didn’t go flying in the street. At this point we are bound up with the car door, I put my feet down to deal with the situation.

Another cyclist not in our party was right behind us, followed by the kid’s dad and then my wife. The other cyclist – thank you by the way – said that she saw everything and stopped for us to see if we needed a witness. We first determined the child was not harmed, and honestly not impressed by the situation at all. This kid is precocious as shit. At this point I turn my attention to the driver. My wife witnessed the whole interaction. She described my interaction as rage which quickly turned to exasperation as I noticed the driver was a ~70yr old women. She had nothing but apologies for us and admitted full blame. I had few words for her but given her age they only amounted to “watch out, that is illegal, this is a child, etc.”

So what was the conclusion? What should you do with this person? The only damage was a zero dollar panier which was easily fixed with more zip ties. Doored by a person who is unlikely to be more attentive with a ticket or more harsh talking to. No personal injuries. We simply gave a scolding and moved on. I left the whole incident thinking “wow, hat was an odd way to get doored for the first time”.

I never would have expected my first dooring to be under these circumstances. It goes to show you that you always need to be vigilant, even on a fun ride.

Then a ‘Good Ole Cat Fight’ Begins

I would have to say that ‘Juan‘ is another of my ‘sock puppets‘. He is however afraid to introduce himself properly and like one of my other ‘sock puppetReboot Oxnard seems loathe to be identified as such. Oh, well. But there are others (all with ‘dog‘ somewhere in the handle) who are still loyal to me. Thanks, guys!

But I really must had it to the guys of ChainLink they are really a clever bunch. All those silly names for suburban towns. However Howard did leave out his favorite, Poke Dark. In fact that’s the very place from which heads of bicycle advocacy groups hail, am I not right?

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. yesterday
4 years is not enough time to learn the hazards of street riding. Glad everyone is not seriously injured. Reporting her to police will help get drivers like this more informed and or off the road.

The Dooring Guide Click to Enlarge

The Dooring Guide
Click to Enlarge

Reply by Tandemonium yesterday
Juan –
Firstly, you should reread my post. I accept the fact that it is TLDR and you probably skimmed, but take notice of the fact that I state we were riding toward the left side of the lane prior to incident. Right where that fun little green “YES” is located in your safety-graphic. I’m pretty sure we were in the correct lane position. Given that both handlebars cleared, missed the kid’s legs & pedals, and then only hit the wide hanging kitty bucket should be an indicator of our lane positioning.

Secondly, it is really shitty to basically blame the victim with “4 years is not enough time…”. Come the eff on. I have a side mirror and the street was busy with traffic, I knew I couldn’t swerve as noted in your safety-graphic. I was in the correct lane position and riding at a reasonable speed for the conditions, able to slow fast enough to mitigate the situation. We escaped the situation without injury or meaningful damage. That right there says the rider knew a thing or two. Tell me again how a couple more years in the saddle could have improved the situation?

To everyone else –

Yeah, in hindsight perhaps I should have called the cops, if only to rack up her DL points and get her off the street for the future. But in the moment I was thinking 1. No injuries 2. Basically no damage and 3. an apologetic elderly women. It didn’t seem worth it to call the cops on granny given those points. I would have if any one of them were different.
Thanks all for reading!

Reply by h’ 1.0 yesterday
Easy there. Juan’s point is that the streets are much more dangerous to ride in than they should be (witness your particular incident) – I don’t think he was looking to make a statement about your skill level. The passage about looking inside each car is good advice, even if the graphic gives a false sense of security in regard to the left half of the bike lane.

Reply by Tandemonium 8 hours ago
Easy there yourself, Pal. Sometimes posts get deleted because they are too aggressive, just something to keep in mind as you continue to develop as a more complete forum member. Regarding this particular forum conversation, we should consider the following:
on Monday:
“4 years is not enough time to learn the hazards of street riding.”
Then on Tuesday:
“Years of riding all year round would also have one seeking out side streets or even polite sidewalk stints when carrying loads.”
So, again, what is the fixation on years and experience? At what point do I cross the threshold between polite sidewalk rider and qualified right hand lane street rider? I’m not sure and I differ to the revised safety-graphic.
Please tell me in one complete sentence how this was not an experience based discussion.

Nice Touch!

My ‘sock puppets‘ are learning to emulate my style quite well. Too bad they have to ‘copy‘. Why not develop one of your very own. Heck you ladies should be able to come up with something reasonable during your next Friday Drunk Ride. Just don’t let the effort ‘get your pantyhose in a wad‘.

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. 12 hours ago
Tell me again how a couple more years in the saddle could have improved the situation?
Until they build cars properly and get rid of on street parking, these city streets are very dangerous.
Narrow streets require the use of taking the right side of the lane especially with precious cargo.
Years of riding all year round would also have one seeking out side streets or even polite sidewalk stints when carrying loads.

Sliding Car Doors

Sliding Car Doors

Reply by Tandemonium 2 hours ago
Thanks all for the nice wishes. It felt great that we escaped the situation without injury or any real damage. The parents were very grateful and we had a nice day at the zoo and riding home on LFT from that point on.
On a side note, I decided to fix this safety graphic in light of newly discovered techniques. Please keep them in mind going forward and pass them on to anyone without the necessary riding prerequisites:

Juan's Door Zone Collision Guide

Juan’s Door Zone Collision Guide


Tandemonium, ‘nice try but no cigar‘. Your ‘voicings‘ are much better as Rhymes with Puppie. This particular bit of drivel was pathetic. Have Howard help you with that sort of thing next time. The comments were ‘ill-conceived‘.


The Door Lane © GridChicago

The Door Lane
© GridChicago

Another bone-head move by a cyclist whose notions of how these ‘accidents‘ occur is appallingly out of touch with reality. For the very last time. Stay out of the ‘Door Zone‘.

You never ever have time to react to a collision in this area. That is why you have to either slow down to a point where your forward movement is slow enough to give you reaction time (i.e. walking speed) or you simply ride to the left of this zone.

The only streets that qualify as safe for cyclists (using the ‘Door Zone‘) are ones like Halsted up near the REI store. These ‘buffered bike lanes‘ give you a wide enough place to ride that you can completely avoid the ‘Door Zone‘. Municipalities should be ashamed of themselves for always putting bike lanes next to parked cars. It’s a dumb and dangerous idea.

But even dumber is for a ChainLinker to describe this particular situation as being under ‘Odd Circumstances‘. Really? You need to either get a refresher from League of American Bicyclists or take the course for the first time. I keep thinking that this is the level of experience and understanding that these folks bring to the table when they start blathering about how they need more ‘bike lanes‘. They hardly know how to manage the ones they have already.



Bike Lanes with a Door Zone and Parallel Parking

Bike Lanes with a Door Zone and Parallel Parking