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.