What would you do if you saw a cyclist getting doored?

Camden High Street

On a recent ride along the Camden High Street London Cyclist reader Kylie witnessed a cyclist being doored. Unbelievably, instead of apologising and checking the cyclist was okay the driver aggressively told him off for getting in the way.

Kylie along with another passer-by decided to intervene. Initially, the cyclist insisted he was fine and slowly the driver started to calm down. However, when Kylie suggested the cyclist get insurance details off the driver, the driver refused.

To make matters worse the driver’s mates started to pour out of the restaurant and went on to try to intimidate the cyclist and the two witnesses.

The cyclist was told to “Go to the bicycle store over there and get your bike fixed – it’s nothing to do with me”.

At the time the cyclist was complaining of sharp chest pains and clearly had some scrapes. The corner of the car door had clipped him straight in the chest and had sent him flying into the middle of the road.

He was fortunate that there wasn’t a car passing at the time.

Kylie ended up calling the police and an ambulance which only served to anger the driver and his mates further. Particularly when the drivers licence plates were read on to the police.

Within about 10 to 15 minutes the police and ambulance had arrived. They separated everyone and put the driver in to the police car. The second officer spoke with the cyclist and got the details off the witnesses.

The police said Kylie had made the right decision by calling them the moment the driver got aggressive and refused insurance details. They said this was the drivers fault for escalating the matter and that if it had been another car there instead of a cyclist then there would have been no question about swapping insurance details.

I like to highlight readers stories such as this one by Kylie as it’s a good reminder of what should be done in a situation such as this one. If it wasn’t for Kylie and the other witness then the cyclist may well have been in shock and decided to simply cycle on instead of thinking clearly.

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41 Responses to What would you do if you saw a cyclist getting doored?

  1. Pete 03/05/2012 at 12:21 pm #

    All I can say about this story is Kylie did the right thing on-behalf of the cyclist. Always alway always get the other parties story regardless of what happens and who you think is fault at the time.

    I recently got screwed over after having a similar incident with a car door and not getting their details. At the time I thought everything was alright, the bike and body seemed ok. As soon as I jumped on the bike though I realised something was not right but by then the car and guy had disappeared. I was left out of pocket for the replacement of a custom built bike, even the insurance I got especially for the bike would only cover a small fraction of what the bike was actually worth.

    Another lesson about insurance, always read the fine print! Market Value is no where near the same as Replacement Value

  2. Anna 03/05/2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Wow what a story. Glad it had a semi happy end!
    I’m pleasantly surprised that pedestrian witnesses came to Kylie’s help and waited with him. When i got doored last month not a single person came to ask if I was alright. I was in such shock that I just rode off. I just couldn’t think straight. I thought “well I wasn’t hurt, so what’s the use of sticking around? The driver got a good fright and apologised, what else is there to do?”
    Thinking back on it now, I should have gotten her to pay for my replacement Ortlieb fittings (£10) that I needed to purchase – luckily that was the only thing that got snapped off!

  3. Stacey 03/05/2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Good post as it really brought it home to me as to what you should do … and what can happen. Good on yer Kylie for standing up for your rights. The trouble is when people start getting aggressive it can be a frightening experience as you never know what’s going to happen, especially if you’re a female. Good that a pedestrian also stood up as a witness.

  4. Ashleigh 03/05/2012 at 12:54 pm #

    I saw a cyclist doored outside my flat in Camden about 6 months ago.

    Drivers do seem to have an odd reaction to dooring cyclists as this woman burst into giggles! Not really appropriate but she said she was driving back from a consultation on a broken arm and saw this as “ironic” – hoping that the giggling may have been caused by some kind of medication she was prescribed there…

    It didn’t look like a bad dooring, the bike didn’t seem damaged at all and he looked OK. Seemed he’d got off lightly with a bit of a scraped knee so I didn’t do anything. Now I’m worried I should’ve done something. It’s difficult when people say they’re OK as being British you’re instinctive reaction is you don’t want to make a fuss (but I’m guessing that they’re saying they’re OK for the same reason!)

    Here’s also a plea to my fellow Camdenites (be you residents or visitors) PLEASE look out for bikes! I try to ride as assertively as possible but I’d really rather not be doored.

  5. Mark 03/05/2012 at 1:40 pm #

    It’s up to drivers to look, but I should also say to my fellow cyclists to never, ever ride within the door zone. That’s the best way to not get doored.

    • Jozudave 04/05/2012 at 11:41 am #

      I’m always worried about getting doored. Or swerving into traffic to avoid a dooring!

      I try to keep almost two meters away from cars, but as we all know that’s not always possible.

      In those instances I try to remind myself “Just slow down a bit on this stretch until you can get back that 1-2m cushion on the next street”.

      Although I understand the law and would try to ensure that I got the driver’s details if it happened to me, I’d rather just not get doored at all thanks!

  6. Andreas 03/05/2012 at 1:41 pm #

    Getting doored or being doored? I can’t decide which one sounds better..

    • goonz 04/05/2012 at 2:46 pm #

      I’m sure they hurt just the same!

    • Phil Russell 04/05/2012 at 11:45 pm #

      Andreas….what sounds best is “not getting doored!”… my wife got doored quite recently by a totally unapologetic driver, which reminds me of a stunt I have pulled a couple of times. If you see a car-door flung open in your path, ride on (if there’s time) and bring your bike to a stop with your front wheel up against the (inside of) the offending door, then look at the dozy git with a puzzled look on your face, and just wait for an apology before riding on. I don’t look very scary, but it’s worked so far.
      Also, as someone else has suggested, it’s probably helpful (particularly in the dull weather we’re experiencing just now) to keep the front light on flashing mode—-which gives SMIDSY’S even less excuse if they do door you.
      P.R.

  7. peanut gallery 03/05/2012 at 1:48 pm #

    In Toronto, we call this being handed the “door prize”.

    I’ve been witness to one and it made my stomach turn upside down!

  8. PaulR 03/05/2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Dooring a cyclist (or any passing vehicle or pedestrian for that matter) is against the law, whether there is malicious intent or not. It is the driver’s responsibility to ensure that it is safe to exit their vehicle and that doing so isn’t going to have an impact on other traffic. Even if you feel completely fine you need to report the incident to the police and get insurance details.

    • RSK 03/05/2012 at 5:38 pm #

      As has been pointed out, it is an offence, and the people who do it are criminals. It’s also one of the few instances where a passenger’s actions can lead to the driver being convicted.

  9. John Rawlins 03/05/2012 at 1:51 pm #

    It is important to remember that many victims of an accident are unable to respond sensibly in the minutes following an accident. I was once knocked from my bike by a driver who was reversing around a roundabout. My first reaction was to get up and apologise to the driver and then tell everyone that I was fine. Meanwhile the blood from the gash on my arm was pumping up onto the paintwork of the car. ‘Oh it’s nothing I’ll be fine,’ I found myself saying. Calling the police and taking a note of the names of witnesses never occurred to me.

    • Kathryn 11/05/2012 at 12:59 pm #

      @John Rawlins – So british! it’s awful, but your response is typical of the kind of thing I would do, that it made me giggle – altho you were obviously harmed. hope you were ok.

  10. Gaz 03/05/2012 at 2:53 pm #

    I doubt anything better could have been done. I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve stepped into altercations between other road users, it is often a lot easier to brake up a situation and calm things down if you are a middle man.

    One thing to do is to tell the cyclist not to ride in the bloody door zone. It is larger than you think. http://www.sillycyclists.co.uk/2011/08/the-door-zone/

    • Shane 04/05/2012 at 11:57 am #

      Good video @Gaz. A cyclist has every much as right to the road as a motorist. If a cyclist wants to ride in the middle of the lane, that’s perfectly legal. If drivers honk horns, that means they can see you.

  11. Amoeba 03/05/2012 at 4:55 pm #

    I’ve never seen a cyclist doored, but I expect that I would stop to help. One of the problems is that the victim is unlikely to be thinking clearly.

    I have been a witness and helped at RTCs involving cars. There is a substantial chance that the driver will be uninsured and will show signs of wanting to leave the scene asap before the Police arrive. Anyone assisting must remain clear-headed and could gather witness details. I was present at such a case as a driver, when a stationary car was rear-ended by another on a country road. Later it turned-out that the vehicle at fault was not insured and the driver gave false details meaning neither could subsequently be traced.
    In the event of a collision, it’s important not to permit the vehicle(s) involved to be moved, because this could jeopardise any subsequent investigation.

    My advice is to try and get some evidence of identity e.g. a credit card or driving licence – don’t rely upon the registration, also look at the VED disk, if it’s out of date or looks in any way dodgy, ring and tell the Police of your suspicions, the vehicle may be SORNed which means NO insurance.

    In a dooring it’s best to assume the cyclist has been injured, so call the Police. Helmet cameras are extremely valuable in such a situation, because they are not as obvious as an ordinary camera, and if they capture sound, there may be additional valuable information available.

    http://www.stop-smidsy.org.uk/sites/www.stop-smidsy.org.uk/files/0909_Road-Traffic-Crash-Advice_.pdf

  12. Tom 03/05/2012 at 9:47 pm #

    One of the most important things in my mind is that if you are involved in an incident, then you should make sure you (try) and get details from the driver, whether you think you are ok or not. I was knocked off my bike a few years ago by a driver suddenly turning right in front of me with out indicating or seemingly looking. They did stop and see if I was ok, and under the infulence of masses of adrenaline and a spot of shock I said I was ok and not to worry and got back on my bike. A mile or so later the adrenaline wore off and I noticed just how sore my arm was, and it turned out I’d cracked my wrist and elbow. Minor breaks, but enough to lose some work for a few weeks, with no come back.

  13. Tom 03/05/2012 at 9:49 pm #

    So we’re all basically saying, don’t do this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsM0CwqGrBs

  14. CHRIS 04/05/2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Well Done Kylie and Friend….Admire you !

  15. Nick D 04/05/2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Technically the cyclist is in the right here – and the driver behaved badly.

    However, as I found out when I had the right of way and a driver still crossed me when I was going 30mph – being ‘in the right’ isn’t enough.

    I now always leave a healthy gap between me and any parked cars on my left for this exact reason. We have to always be anticipating potential hazards like this for our own safety – right or wrong doesn’t count for much if you’re badly hurt or dead…

    It’s scary how naive some cyclists are – specially (generally speaking) women – more education needed?

  16. CHRIS 04/05/2012 at 12:33 pm #

    This attitude by car drivers seems to be all too common, I remember way back in 1965, I was cycling through a residential area, when a car shot out of a driveway in reverse, I had no chance to avoid it, there was only a couple of feet in which to stop, no thinking distance,
    the driver then blamed me (a schoolboy) for being there, he does that everyday, and no one ever hit him before ???
    I hit his rear n/s door, and then took a flight over the handlebars.
    He sent my Dad a bill, but when Dad went around to see him, he wouldn`t open the door.
    Hence he escaped the wrath of my Dad, and his bill went into the dustbin.

  17. raymond 04/05/2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Well done Kylie :-)

  18. Nick 04/05/2012 at 1:25 pm #

    A year ago in Jan, I was riding in a cycle line under a bridge (near Kings Cross) heading towards the green traffic lights at some pace. Suddenly upon passing stationary traffic which was waiting to go through the lights, a taxi passenger door swung open in the middle of the road just as I was riding past. I went straight over the handle bars and came off my bike. I managed to get the passenger’s details but I didn’t take any details from the taxi driver. Luckily I managed to find the driver and I put in a successful claim for compensation. Always get the details of witnesses, drivers, cars etc as I was very luckily to hunt down the driver in the end.

  19. Emm 04/05/2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I got doored by a passenger last year. The car had over taken me to get to the red lights and as it stopped the passenger just flung the door open and my arm took the brunt. As it swelled up in view of the passenger and as I got myself to the ground as I suddenly felt very sick he called the ambulance. The passenger and driver were really sorry about what happened, and thankfully my arm was just badly bruised and I had no lasting problems after the swelling went down. But, I should have got the passenger and driver and car details, my arm could easily have been broken…..
    So, if I saw someone being doored, like Kylie, I would do my very best to to either encourage the victim to take down all details or do it myself.

  20. Paul Bunnell 04/05/2012 at 2:30 pm #

    reminder to add to kit … golf pencil and small notebook ….

    • Phil Russell 15/08/2012 at 1:36 pm #

      [[[[[[[[[[[[[[ Quite right, Paul B.,.......we should all pack a pen & paper in the kit, and ALWAYS write down the registration plate of any car whose driver has "doored" us, and make sure the driver sees you doing it! Many years ago, a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce appeared from the other side of the road and turned across my path, just as I was sprinting through a green traffic-light.
      It was raining, i was racing down-hill from Hyde Park Corner, with a gale-force tailwind behind me, and on rock-hard 9-ounce racing tubulars. I hit the car at 30mph (50kph) just behind the rear wheel and sailed clean over its rear end, and slid and rolled 25 feet along Knightsbridge.....the chauffeur gets out of the Roller, white-faced in shock, asks me how much the bike-repair will cost me, and without waiting for my response he takes out a bulging wallet and hands me (in today's money) £250....which more than compensated for a new Fiamme-on- Campag front wheel and, curiously, no apparent damage to the rest of the steel-framed Legnano.
      What's the moral of the story? I was a teenager, riding like a teenage twerp, but there's no doubt the driver feared for his job if I were to pursue the matter, so I got lucky...... VERY lucky, all things considered. Since then I always have pen & paper in the bonk-bag. You just never know ............
      P.R.

  21. Enjoy the View 04/05/2012 at 3:06 pm #

    I was hit by a car last year, on probably the only stretch of road in London with no passers-by to be my witnesses. I did succeed in making a small claim for damages in court (see http://www.enjoytheview.eu/articles/cycling/how-to-claim-for-bicycle-damage-after-accident/ if you’re interested) but it really would have been so much easier if there had been a witness or two.

    Since then, I’ll be sure to stop and provide my contact details if I see an incident, whether it involves a car, bicycle or pedestrian. Kylie definitely did the right thing and I would like to encourage all other cyclists to at least stop and give their number to the victim in these kinds of cases, in case things later turn out worse than perceived at the time (e.g. damage can be more expensive to repair than anticipated, or injuries might take time to develop).

    • Amoeba 04/05/2012 at 3:55 pm #

      Thanks for that! I hope I never need to refer to it. But the odds are that some will find it useful.

      BTW, member-benefits of cycling organisations like the CTC and IIRC, LCC are third party insurance and legal assistance.
      Please don’t take my word for it though, YMMV.

  22. goonz 04/05/2012 at 4:28 pm #

    I was hit by a car only a few days ago. Luckily neither the car nor I were going very fast. I was overtaking the car when it suddenly decided to swerve to the right without looking or indicating and we collided my handlebars with her wing and front panel. I didn’t fall off the bike but the bike dropped and luckily I unclipped my pedals and managed to land on my feet. I just paused and took a few deep breaths to get over the initial shock then checked myself over for pain or blood. So far so good. The driver had stopped so I let her get over herself and checked my bike over. Luckily only my drops had scraped the car and had done more damage to the car than my bike. She was genuinely concerned and I let her know i was ok and she gave me her name and number and said if there was any damage to the bike I should.call her. Good thing too as it was only a month old! I didn’t take her car details as she seemed genuine enough and she looked more shaken than me. As neither my bike or myselfwwas damaged I left it at that but no witnesses or pedestrians came to my assistance at all. Sad really.
    U stopped for another cyclist once who had a very bad accident One morning and took him to the hospital as he was in very bad shape. It’s not nice to see it so close to you and usually the natural instinct to help comes out at this time.

  23. christina 04/05/2012 at 7:15 pm #

    one thing i found helps – if you do – for whatever reason – have to cycle close to parked cars, check for folded mirrors – usually a very good sign of no one being in there. also, look through the rear windows and into the rear view mirror and side mirrors if possible for heads, movements, shadows anything. whilst it isn’t a guarantee it helps with eliminating possible door incidents. also, i keep running track of the traffic and its movement. when i see someone pulling in to park further down the road, i just always assume that they won’t see me and i keep my distance on passing them, as i don’t trust them to see me.
    re insurance, taking details: i haven;t gotten doored, but i did get slammed (by another cyclist): i was passing her on her right, she was stationary ready to roll, but somewhere along the line, i am guessing when she pushed off to pedal, she put too much pressure on her right pedal, and her handlebar veered right running straight into my back wheel flooring me. she did also have a stupidly heavy backpack on and had just started riding (which she told me). she too was laying on the ground but couldnt get up as her backpack was too heavy . so i took it off her, a motorcyclist stopped and helped get her bike which was very nice.
    i was just confused, possibly in shock, adrenaline running and at the same time being very pragmatic whilst wondering what the hell happened and was it my fault? so after some time to make sure she was def ok, we both continued our journeys and i took no details. mistake. i just put my head down and raced to work, wanting to get there the sooner the better, have a sit down as i was feeling achy, have a cup of tea, (hehe only time i was ‘racing’ to work) still confused and running over the whle thing in my head over and over again.
    what i didn;t notice was my rear tire was bent, not so bad, but enough that i had to replace it (and i had just had it trued about 5 days earlier!!!). that was cost #1. my knee started swelling and i couldn;t bend it or use it properly for a week. public transport cost #2. now that amounts to perhaps over £120, but it was £120 i didn’t have and certainly didn;t want to use for fixing my bike (which had just been fixed) and taking public transport.

  24. Barton 09/05/2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I am going to credit this blog for keeping me from getting doored on the way home last night. I was tooling along in the bike lane and actually paying more attention to the cars parked than normal (this bike lane was next to the drivers doors, whereas most bike lanes in my city are next to the passenger door). Sure enough, about four cars ahead of me I saw a tiny movement coming from the driver’s side and slowed down. The massive door of an ancient Cadillac opened slowly and a small, older woman stepped out, just as slowly as the door had opened. By now I was at a full stop, as the door took up almost the entire 1.5 meter wide bike lane, and traffic was at such a clip and so tight that there was no way to go around.

    The lady (parked in front of the post office) looked startled when she saw me waiting for her, but was very apologetic for not looking to see if there was a cyclist in the lane before opening her door. I said something like no harm no foul, helped her close her massive door (she didn’t have the strength) and pedaled on.

    So, thanks London Cyclist for making pay more attention. As I know I should always do, but sometimes you just get complacent.

    • Andreas 09/05/2012 at 4:48 pm #

      Pleased to hear the blog is helping out – that’s why I think articles like this one are really good. We’ll have a similar one coming up next week which should help some people looking for more info on what to do in an accident.

      As you mentioned, it’s easy to get complacent but you have to try to catch yourself doing it.

  25. Charles 10/05/2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Any collision with a motorist always call the police.

    If nothing else it may help some of the more aggressive motorists think of the road behavior and treat us like they would other road users.

    A motorist hit me when opening a door last summer.

    He had no choice but to call the police as he was a CID officer.

  26. Mark 10/05/2012 at 7:56 pm #

    excellent to hear some good news in defense of a cyclist!
    if i had been the one knocked off my bike i may too have just said it was nothing and limped off, only to later think, he wait, he was in th wrong!
    so glad to hear of th white nights that came to their defense! im sure camden is th sort of place that sort of thing could get quite heated too!

  27. matthew 14/08/2012 at 12:46 am #

    My father was hit by a car that knocked him off his bike whilst he was in the bus and cycle lane last month on the strand. The car didnt even slow down, and the police havent traced them, he’s got a broken collarbone and other injuries and his bike is completely trashed and hed only had it for a couple of months so now hes out the price of the bike as well.
    you’d expect there would have been cctv footage but apparently not.

    • Amoeba 14/08/2012 at 7:40 am #

      matthew 14/08/2012 at 12:46 am #

      Sorry to hear that. Did he get the number?
      The trouble is that in certain parts of the UK and London, so many drivers are uninsured, and uninsured drivers really aren’t likely to hang around for the Police.

      I’ve had some harassment recently and I’m considering a rear-facing camera.

    • Mark 14/08/2012 at 8:07 am #

      He might be able to claim from the motor insurers bureau.

      • matthew 14/08/2012 at 6:54 pm #

        He didnt get the number, the car sped off so fast and he was mildly concussed, one eye witness who didnt leave his name got a partial number but the police said they couldnt trace it. The policeman who attended the scene also sad they werent likely to bother looking through cctv footage becuase they were to busy with the olympics. Oh and we were just told that there was no cctv footage anyway as the ones on the strand only monitor and not record.

        Whats really annoying him is hes just taken the bike in to have it checked and Evans told him its a “right off” and according to the motors insurers forms we got through they wont cover damage costs to property caused by untracable drivers, so hes proabably out £900 and has to get a new bike.

        • Amoeba 15/08/2012 at 10:59 am #

          matthew 14/08/2012 at 6:54 pm #

          His bike might be covered under his home contents insurance. It’s worth checking.

        • Phil Russell 15/08/2012 at 12:36 pm #

          Matthew,
          So the CCTV on The Strand “doesn’t record—only monitors”——so who was supposed to be “monitoring” the scene? Might be worth asking the question……
          P.R.

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