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  • Writer's pictureDave Shellnutt

Doorings: A Cyclist's Guide



Our clients were cycling together down Locke St. in Hamilton, a beautiful inaugural April spring ride. The door of a Tesla flung open into their path. One cyclist hit it and the other crashed into them as they flew into the road. Both suffered wrist fractures and other injuries.


The driver did not call 911/authorities, did not provide them with his insurance information and left the scene while they were in shock.


Last year, I almost got doored twice in 24 hours. Once, riding in the painted bike lanes behind Toronto General Hospital, and the next morning on College St. Thankfully, both streets were quiet. I was ringing my bell. I was able to ride at the edge of the bike lane away from the parked cars, and maneuver safely. Often though, as was the case with our clients on Locke St. with traffic the only space you have to ride in is in the dooring zone. In those situations, the dooring risk is heightened greatly.


Dooring is one of the most unexpected and dangerous hazards we cyclists face.

At the Biking Lawyer LLP, many of our clients have been doored and severely injured. They share many things in common, including the complete surprise and severity of injury.


If you have been doored, fill out our Online Crash Report and take the following steps:


1. Get Safe! Seek medical attention:


The most important thing to do in the aftermath of a dooring is to tend to your health.


Assess your injuries and ask for help to get to a safe location (off the road).


If you are injured or believe you could be injured (be mindful you're likely in shock), move as little as possible and request an ambulance by calling 911 or having a bystander make the call.


I once biked home from a crash with a broken wrist, only later having to attend the hospital. This was a bad move. Better to stay on the scene and request help, even if you are not sure the extent of your injuries. Ambulance fees and bills will be covered by no fault insurance.


If an ambulance is not called, go to your family doctor or a walk-in clinic to get checked out the same or following day. Document your injuries, especially possible concussions.


Even if you think you are fine, get a medical professional to tell you that.


When in doubt have someone call an ambulance to the scene.


2. Take Pictures and get the driver's insurance information:


Anyone involved in a motor vehicle collision is obligated to stop and provide insurance information (Highway Traffic Act, s. 200(1)(c)). As was the case above with our Hamilton clients the driver left the scene. Later through our clients' great work and our investigation team we got video from a local business and identified the license plate to put the driver on notice and share with Hamilton Police.


That was VERY lucky. So, be sure to request insurance information and take a picture of the driver’s license plate and ID while you wait for emergency services. If they will not give you their insurance information, ask the police to give it to you on scene. Police may delay in providing it to you later and this will impact the short term benefits you are entitled to.

If police refuse to provide this information to you, take down their full name and badge number and contact The Biking Lawyer LLP for assistance (info@thebikinglawyer.ca).


Take pictures of the driver's license plate, any damage to your bike, the other vehicle, your injuries, the scene, etc.


If you cannot take pictures due to your injuries, ask witnesses/bystanders to help you. Get their contact info as well.


By taking down the driver's license details and insurance information, you enable yourself access to NO-FAULT benefits, from health care treatment to compensation for lost wages, even if you don’t have car insurance: “no fault Accident Benefits system”.


You do not have to have your own insurance. The insurance of the car driver that hit you applies, whether you were at fault for the crash or not.


3. Seek legal Advice:


Regardless of the severity of your injuries, make sure you know what to expect post-crash. Make sure you know your rights.


For any injured cyclist, across Ontario, we provide free legal consults.


We are always available to discuss your options. If you have been involved in crash, contact us right away: info@thebikinglawyer.ca to schedule a call.


Below are some tips to avoid doorings and minimize injuries. Of course we recognize the negligence of drivers is unpredictable and they are to blame for dooring incidents. Ultimately it's motorists who have to change their behaviours, but until then our goal is to keep our community safe:

  • Use appropriate safety gear. Specifically: a helmet, your brightest lights (front and back) and always, always be ringing that bell. Pre-emptive bell ringing is not a sure-fire safety tool, but it helps.

  • Riding defensively is as important as your gear. Slow down. You can ride fun and free on appropriate paths, but slow down on busier streets with parked cars.

  • Be hyper vigilant when not in a protected bike lane. Watch for people in parked cars, turn signals/indicators, and suspicious behaviour.

We asked our community for tips and here is what you shared with us too:

  • Kerri - I slow down, keep my butt in the seat and look for delivery vehicles and tinted windows.

  • Maxiine - look for car lights being on and heads in the car. But I assume no one sees me.

  • Barry - Take the other lane and yell "heads up" - be vocal!

  • Tigerdry - Watch the driver's side mirror and front car tires.

  • Theshtepik - Slow down and be prepared for emergency braking.

  • Thomhanks - remove private cars from urban environments ;)

  • Crimedaddy - assume every door is out to get you, pay attention.

  • Many people - When safe to do so take the other lane.

Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion online, we appreciate you.


There is no guaranteed protection from dooring. Ultimately, we need increased bike lanes, rapidly expanded driver training, tougher laws, and an attitude change that treats the safety of vulnerable road users as paramount.


Ride safe and have fun!


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4 Comments


fandomyul
May 24

Oh, the tales of cyclists and dodging open doors! It's a scene many of us bikers know all too well. The unexpected clash of a cyclist and a suddenly opened car door is like a rite of passage in the cycling world. The tips provided there are truly beneficial for everyone hitting the road on two wheels. As a friendly suggestion, if you ever need legal help related to traffic ticket in brampton, I recommend visiting Street Legal's site. They have a team of dedicated traffic ticket lawyers who can support you efficiently in such situations. Stay safe on the road!

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Steve D'Silva
Steve D'Silva
May 01, 2023

One experience with a bike accident I wanted to share was when I had a crash riding the Humber Valley Trail at too fast a speed. I experienced sever road rash and an ambulance was called for me. When the ambulance arrived, the ambulance driver refused to take my bicycle with me to the hospital. He gave me the option of either I leave my bike behind or he would not take me to the hospital. Luckily for me another rider very kindly offered to take my bike home with him and then delivered it to me when I was out of the hospital, but if I wasn't so lucky to be riding with such caring riders, what …

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observablebear
observablebear
May 01, 2023
Replying to

... and my panniers were fully loaded with produce from the farmer's market.

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