A cyclist’s lament part one: car doors

I nearly got doored the other day. It’s probably the closest I’ve come to being knocked off my bike by a careless car driver throwing open their door since I moved to Melbourne nearly three years ago.

There I was, happily pedalling my merry way home on Friday afternoon, thankful for the end of another working week. The next moment my heart was pounding at the close call and I was left seething at the selfishness of drivers who don’t check for cyclists before opening their doors.

This particular Friday I had decided to change my usual route home for something different. I also wanted to see if I could find a café that had been getting some good reviews with the wishful thought that I might try it out some time. (Wishful because in Melbourne, as soon as a café or restaurant gets a good review in the local papers, you’ve got bugger all chance of getting in because everyone else decides to go. But that’s a rant for another post.)

Anyway, I was pedalling along, not particularly fast, looking at the park on my left, thinking of the café I was looking for when suddenly, when I was alongside a car parked on the side of the road, its driver’s door was suddenly flung open. It was the only car parked along this stretch of the road in front of the Alfred Hospital. I got such a shock I only had time to gasp and breathe “ffffuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkkkkkk”. Thankfully I was far enough away from the car that it didn’t get me.

I only caught a glimpse of the driver as I passed. She looked shocked. Obviously she didn’t look behind her before opening her door. All I could do was look back at her and shake my head.

I’m usually hyper-aware when I’m riding my bike in the city. If I’m passing a line of parked cars I always slow down and look inside the cars ahead of me to check if there’s a driver inside who might open their door. But this afternoon I just didn’t notice this one car parked outside the hospital.

But really, just as riders should be careful riding in traffic, drivers should also be aware of bike riders and always check behind them before opening their door. I’m a car driver and I do. It only takes a second. And if it means they avoid knocking over a bike rider, it saves the cyclist, and themselves, from all sorts of grief.

This will be the first in a potentially long series of rants about the treatment of bike riders on the roads. 

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5 thoughts on “A cyclist’s lament part one: car doors

  1. AndrewGills

    Urgh! I hit a car door once. Poor driver had the sun behind me so didn’t stand a chance but neither did I because she was parked right on a slight bend. Fractured my little toe and put a whopping big dent in the driver’s door. In Queensland, the cyclist is now deemed at fault in car dooring incidents because we’re the vehicle coming from behind. Ridiculous seeings we can’t always actually even see whether there’s a person in the vehicle but hey. Glad you got out unscathed.

    Reply
  2. AndrewGills

    PS: For rants – you should try cycling 100km on the road every day for 31 days. I could give you some stories and I’m only at day 19. But at least half the stories are also of cyclists behaving badly (don’t get me started on single led tail lights that look fast on racing / triathlon bikes but actually are as good as having no light at all)

    Reply
  3. Dayna

    Gee, I’m glad you weren’t hurt!
    I rode my bike a lot in Brisbane, mostly on bike paths but also on the road when I had to. I didn’t bring it to Melbourne with me initially, thinking I would ‘later’. Now, having seen some stirling examples from both cyclists and motorists of considerate road usage, I think I might stick to walking or catching public transport! I do miss my bike though.

    Reply
    1. imahiker Post author

      Yeah, riding a bike in Melbourne can be a bit scary but I don’t think I could ever give it up. The off road bike trails are good, like the Yarra Trail. Although during commuter time they can be unpleasant as some lycra warriors think they’re in the Tour de France.

      Reply

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