Dooring and Driving Without Insurance

Thought I should share my experience today watching a fellow cyclist get CREAMED by a thrown open door on Williams, just south of Russel (outside of a retirement home I believe). If there was a car next to him, the rider would have most likely been another bicycle fatality. Thankfully, he was not seriously injured, and was wearing a helmet which may have saved his life. His bicycle is going to need about $500 worth of work. The kicker is that the driver had no insurance. But you figure, OK, when the police show up she’s going to at least get a ticket for that. Actually, since she wasn’t actually ‘driving’ (car was parked) and they couldn’t prove she was the driver (even though two of us witnessed the driver throw open the driver side front door), there is no crime and technically no one is at fault (this is all according to the PO).

It is very scary that there is such permissiveness to drive (or park) in Portland and not be held accountable for driving insuranceless — and ultimately, whoever these drivers hit are going to pay that price. If this rider was injured severely, he’d have to pay for it completely himself.

Granted, this woman did not mean to knock over the cyclist and was extremely upset about it. Her door couldn’t even close. She apparently had a fight with her passenger and threw the door open in haste. Not exactly safe parking behavior along a bike route. But when I put myself in the driver’s shoes, beyond my own care to look in the mirror to watch for cyclists, there are NO REMINDERS to drivers to watch for bikes approaching in the bike lane. Why is there no law that drives this point home loud and clear?

And through this experience, I think once again we have an infrastructural issue that leads to this perpetual conflict. Why on earth would we put a bike lane on one of the most highly traveled bike routes in Portland, alongside these parked cars? It makes bike lanes actually MORE DANGEROUS to ride in than simply taking the lane.

So, thanks for this opportunity to decompress and hopefully spark (or rehash) some conversation, particularly action items for dealing with Williams and all of our bike lanes that abut parking lanes. If my perception is wrong, I’d love to hear other views on this.

2 thoughts on “Dooring and Driving Without Insurance

  1. In Pennsylania (and I thought most other states) vehicular law requires drivers to yield when opening doors – and that fact makes them responsible for the subsequent damages. Additionally, in Philadelphia it’s against the law to park a car on a public street without insurance, proper registrations, etc. I’m surprise Portland doesn’t have either of these.

  2. The sad thing is, we do have similar laws. The trouble is that enforcement is rare if there isn’t a major hospitalization. It’s sad, because if these were two cars that collided, I think there would be more traction for writing a report. In this case, the officer deemed it a civil issue, despite significant property damage, that the driver did not have insurance, and that the driver violated the dooring law.

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