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Car Collision Not Free Commute

Of all days, I witnessed a bike get thrown to the pavement this morning by a car door. Does anyone know what the law is?
This morning I was riding behind another biker in the bike lane going up Broadway towards PSU. Parked cars to the right of us, moving traffic to the left. In front of the Banana Republic building, a minivan pulled up next to the bike lane, no turn signal, and the passenger quickly threw open her car door on the bike in front of me. The bike hit the door and hit the pavement, so did the rider. I stopped quickly so I wouldn't hit the door as well. The woman getting out of the car immediately started to yell about how we should look where we're going, how we should've seen her and expected cars to be stopping there and unloading passengers. She was really pissed. So pissed, in fact that she didn't even bother to ask if the biker was hurt! Still yelling insults, she walked into her building and told her driver to pull away. I couldn't help yelling "f**k you" at her back. We got the driver's insurance info, despite his protestations of "You should've been looking" and "Well, you know, pedestrians have to look where they're going too" Duh, buddy, and if you hit a pedestrian in your car, you're in deep doo doo!
My question is: It's the driver's fault, right? I mean, yes, everyone out there in the streets should be walking, biking and driving defensively.... But, as far as car insurance goes, if this biker got injured, he'd have to pay up, wouldn't he?

So much for a car-free commute!
not sure..... 22.Sep.2003 12:35

not-sure guy

>My question is: It's the driver's fault, right?

did the cyclist hit the car door after it was opened, or did the car passenger open the door into the cyclist? if the cyclist hit an open car door, i don't see how *technically* it would be the driver's fault.

door opened 22.Sep.2003 12:47


The car pulled up and the door was thrown open on the bike, it kinda clipped the back wheel/rack. I had to slam on my brakes too.
I remember my driver's ed teacher telling us that when we're in the car, we're responsible for it. And he used the example of: When you park your car, check to make sure all's clear before opening your car door, because if you hit another car, it's your fault.

Driver's Fault 22.Sep.2003 13:04



Additionally 22.Sep.2003 13:40


I just looked at that location. Stopping where they did and not pulling into a parking spot, the car would be blocking traffic. Admittedly, everyone and their dog stops to let off passengers without pulling out of traffic, but I don't believe it's legal.

now i'm sure.... 22.Sep.2003 13:54

guy who is now sure

the driver is at fault, no matter how you slice it.

ride free 22.Sep.2003 14:08


Another reason to keep a pen and paper handy - LICENSE PLATES!!! This person commited a HIT AND RUN! Thats a crime! Come on people, stand up for yourselves!!

The driver is clearly at fault 22.Sep.2003 14:16


The driver should have checked to see if anyone was approaching her door. It's not just the law but common courtesy (something sadly lacking in this day and age).

in my pocket 22.Sep.2003 14:18


I printed out that paragraph (811.490 Improper opening) and will keep it in my coat pocket from now on! Where did it come from, so I can cite it? I've witnessed this happen to way too many bikers in my commuting years... including me. When it happened to me, a parked car threw open it's door into the bike lane and I flew through the air and my bike got bent. I was so embarrassed (!) that I just grabbed my bike and walked away in a fog.

insurance 22.Sep.2003 14:21

biker #1

We got the driver's name, address and phone number. The biker wasn't injured, we rode on up the hill together. I think it's always good to make the driver give up info, even if you're okay, because it makes them think twice about what happened. I bet even that mean lady that walked away will look twice before she opens her door again.

Property more important than people 22.Sep.2003 14:27


My stepson was riding his bike on our road and was nearly ran over by a young woman in an SUV. He managed to get off of his bike as she was running it over. He was unhurt but his bicycle was destroyed. Both were shaken by the incident and the woman gave him a ride home.The following day the girl's mother came over to our house to give us an estimate for the damage to the paint job on their SUV.
I still wonder if they'd have come had she killed or injured our son.

To Creepy 22.Sep.2003 14:33


I hope you didn't give her money?!

That Broadway stretch is treacherous in the morning. Both the Benson and the Heathman hotels have all kinds of cabs, limos, and SUVs throwing open car doors and stopping mid-lane all over the place! It's an obstacle course winding your way around the hazards of the rich and famous.

I don't know 22.Sep.2003 14:34


I have no knowlege of laws in Portland regarding this. What you should do is ask this question on  http://bikeforums.net or ask local advocacy groups about this. I've been "doored" before myself. It sucks. Sorry the person was so rude to you.

She knew 22.Sep.2003 15:00


That woman knew she was at fault, and wanted to intimidate you. That's why she was yelling at you. It is not just the driver who is at fault here. She was not driving, but she is the one who didn't look and threw her car door open.

She knows you can sue her.

Creepy, I also hope you didn't give that woman any money. But I mostly hope you were able to speak to her firmly and make her ashamed of what she was trying to do.

To: biker 22.Sep.2003 15:04


That is an Oregon Revised Statute (ORS). I found it in a book called "Pedal Power", written by bicycle law hero, Ray Thomas. I think you could get a copy at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, or at Ray's office.

Statutes Online 22.Sep.2003 15:42

Pink Emma

"that paragraph" (811.490 Improper opening) -- along with the entire text of the Oregon Revised Statutes -- is available online courtesy of the Oregon Legislature.

For 811.490 Improper opening, see:

For the entire ORS, see:

there's no question that the passenger committed a crime 22.Sep.2003 18:21


It was established firmly in the Oregon Statutes excerpt above, you have to allow traffic to pass before opening a door. The driver also committed a crime by stopping there if it wasn't a parking place. A third crime was committed by leaving the scene. With two witnesses, there should be no way that they wouldn't both get sentenced for the offenses. I think they should be taken to court, and the result of that posted here later. Behavior like this shouldn't be tolerated. Please stand up to these people, for the benefit of other cyclists and pedestrians.

Don't Count on it... 22.Sep.2003 19:34

Bicyclists United for Rights to the Road

Don't count on the driver's insurance paying for your injuries or repairing or replacing your bike. Insurance company claims adjusters are famous for being scumbags; and motorists will change their story and lie about what happened to cover thier sorry asses. If either your injuries or damage to your bike are serious, GET A LAWYER. If you're lucky and own a car and have your own auto insurance, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage will help with medical bills, even if you were riding your bike when injured (and not driving). The Bicycle Transportation Alliance has a monthly legal clinic for cyclists; they also publish a great little book titled Pedal Power that covers the law as it applies to Cyclists. Ray Thomas is one of the foremost attorneys representing bicyclists in this town; he wrote the book and teaches the legal clinic. He works for Swanson, Thomas and Coon, in Downtown Portland. Here's some resources for anyone who's interested:






Good to educate yourself before accident...use this chance 22.Sep.2003 20:51

street lawyer

Understanding that this is a surprising and emotional event when it first occurs, there are things to learn to prepare for the next time. Fortunately, with no injury or damage to the cyclist, it's probably not worth the effort to pursue this particular situation any further.

I'm surprised you got the driver's info. Good for you. Remember, however, that Oregon law requires *an exchange* of information. There are 2 laws that apply here: 811.700 "Failure to perform the duties of a driver in an accident" (misdemeanor hit and run, felony with physical injury), and 811.715 "Failure to perform the duties of a witness to an accident" (class B traffic infraction).

What *should* have happened is that all 4 of you should have exchanged information. Drivers failing to exchange commit a crime. Witnesses failing to exchange commit a traffic violation.

attorney 23.Sep.2003 02:19


please contact attorney sam hochberg; he specializes in bike law; it never ceases to amaze how long some people spend debating the obvious...it is a crime to open your car into traffic. period. even if the car is correctly parked, not double parked. Sue! Go see a doctor immediately...have injuries charted. Adrenaline masks injuries post trauma...but the next day, or, a few hours later...

oh, sam's info: 224-1106

Sam won me 5k when i was "doored" in old town. the van was parked in a regular parking space.

round up: witnsesses
get medical evaluation (chiropractor counts)
get estimate of bike damage from a shop
file suit

it's the only way these arrogant fucks learn...hit them in the pocket
plus their insurance rates go up

PS: If the injured bicyclist is also a motorist and carries liability insurance, her PIP (personal injury protection) will pay for her medical. Your PIP protects you anytime you are in an automobile accident, even if you are a pedestrian. also, your auto insurance company will exert more pressure on the guilty insurance carrier to recover their expenditures for your medical treatment.

Get after the bastards. Do it today.

please, take them to court so that they learn 23.Sep.2003 10:12


Despite the comment above about it not being worthwhile if nobody was injured, I would definitely take the two people to court. This is an easy case to win with a witness, and they have committed serious crimes that could if repeated injure in the future. Please do it and post the result later.

can't sue 23.Sep.2003 12:56


I'm only the witness. We all exchanged information and it's up to the smashed biker to contact me if she wants to pursue it. I don't even know her.
So, are the Heathman and the Benson, and every other hotel downtown, immune from this law? Drivers block traffic, double prak and leave doors open in front of there all the time.

Litigate as a last resort 27.Sep.2003 20:55


I was "doored" in November 1998 by a drive who was legally parked, but did not check his side view mirror before swinging his door into the bike lane.

My front wheel was "taco'd", and my back was in a lot of pain.

The driver stayed on the scene. Employees of the business we were in front of called 911. Driver supplied his insurance information. I requested an ambulance.

I filed a claim with the insurance company. The insurer did not dispute anything. My settlement covered all medical expenses resulting from the accident, loss of wages for not being able to work for a couple of days, cost of repairing the bike (which was in effect 'totaled' as the repair estimate exceeded the value of the bike), and a modest offer for pain and suffering. I think the total settlement was $2900 or so.

I never consulted an attorney. The settlement was fair in my opinion. The settlement no doubt would have been greater if negotiated by an attorney to make it worth the attorney's while.

Leave lawyers out unless or until you feel you are being treated unfairly or ignored.

I am not a lawyer.

The fellow who "doored" me was.

RE: poet34 27.Sep.2003 21:09


"their insurance rates go up."
and so do everyone else's.
Average insurance rates for all driver's in the offending driver's demographic will go up because insurer's rely on statistics to predict and manage risk.
That's why I encourage this victim to first seek restitution without attorney involvement.
You got "5K" with the help of an attorney. Was that the total settlement? Your share? What was your attorney's share?

This happened to me 28.Sep.2003 19:00

A guy in CA

This happened to me, when I was a teenager in Northern Ca. A woman behind the wheel of her parked car opened her door, apparently without checking her rearview mirror first. At that moment I was riding past on my 10-speed; there was no chance to stop. The bike's front end was trashed, her door got quite a bit bent out of shape, I got some cuts and bruises.

Like the driver in the reported incident, this woman was quite outraged. She used the phone of a local business to call her insurance agent, then I called home. In the end, she was found responsible: opening her door into oncoming traffic put the onus on her to exercise due diligence. She (her insurance company, actually) was held liable for the damage to my bike and my medical costs. This was in the days before it was de riguer to escalate these kinds of things into major lawsuits, so that's where my story ends.

10 points 28.Sep.2003 20:25

biker named terror

10 points for offing drivers of cars, trucks, and other gasoline powered vehicles. do yourself and the environment a favor. 15 points for suvs and large trucks.

fault vs responsability 29.Sep.2003 05:36


it's not a question of fault, but a question of responsability ...
a biker is respnsible for his bike and what his bike can do to others (to pedestrians, to cars, or to any living animal!), just like a driver is responsible for what his car can do to others.
a car being so much bigger and heavier, it will carry more momentum (even when parked!) and will be much more of a hazard (the driver can't tell precisely where his car is, because he's inside!). so the potential damage is much greater.
my point is: there can be no argument: the car driver is always responsible for a crash with a cyclist. even if the cyclist deliberately crashes into the car, it's still the car causing the damage, not the bike!

There is NO PROTECTION of bicyclists in this "Civilized" Country 29.Sep.2003 15:49

W D Loudermilk wdl_traveler@hotmail.com

I was struck by an auto on 26 January 2001 in Boca Raton, FL. I was blamed for the accident by some fat, donut eating cop. The worst thing about it was that he was training a female officer that day. The woman driving the car staed to the police (on the scene, which I couldn't because the ambulance made sure I was taken away or was refusing service) that she was not paying attention! Even with her admission of negligence, I was still unable to tell the officer my side because he had already decided that it was my fault and would rewrite the laws of physics to defend the automobile. The only way I was able to retain counsel was by, in exasperation, contacting the only civil rights attorney in the book asking if bicyclists had any rights in the stae of Florida. I have travelled quite a bit (36 countries) and knew that in every other country in the world I would not have gotten so screwed as I did here.

My only advice would be to get PIP insurance (all of us cyclists) so that when we get hit by a car (which will happen to me again) I can sic my insurance company on their insurance company and not have to be out the thousands of dollars I lost the last time. I hate insurance companies because they are a legal con, but it is better to have them fuck with another insurance company that to try and face the corporate whores by yourself.

I empathize 30.Sep.2003 00:35


Greetings from Tacoma.

On the 17th of July I was hit by a big fucking van near the Tacoma Dome. I had been riding on the sidewalk, and was about to go through a crosswalk when I saw a van sitting at the stop sign there. I had to go around the front of it, due to them blocking my path, and the driver didnt see me and T-boned me.

Long story short, I ended up being hospitalized 2 times(initially 4 days, then 5 a month later) and had 2 surgeries. Even as I write this Im still on crutches and not able to walk. I would suggest to anybody in an auto accident involving their bicycles to get an attorney right away. That way the persons insurance company will take you halfway seriously, and you can get a lawyer on commision, so if you dont win anything, nothing out of pocket.

antipodean comment 30.Sep.2003 17:14


I can only tell you what I know in terms of my own experience, as I live in New Zealand.

I know of several incidents in which the driver of a parked car opened his or her car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. So the cyclist hits the car door (rather than swerve into the path of oncoming traffic) and comes off his or her bike with or without sustaining an injury. The interesting part is that in some cases the driver has been charged with "opening a car door without due care" or something similar.

A city councilor in my home town was charged and fined for this offence....It still happens way too often though.

I was hit once 01.Oct.2003 23:11

Zeed Cookey_1400@hotmail.com

I live in a subburb of New York, and I was hit by a car once when riding my bike. I was going down a side street, heading to a local library to meet a familly member. I came to a four way intersection on a non-main road, it had a one way road going South to North, and a two way road one side leading to a dead end, and the other leading to a main road, as well as a four (or three)way stop. I was crossing from the dead end side to the main road side, and there are some tall bushes growing there. I was going fast and it was raining. I sped out from the dead end side and looked both ways as I coasted through, and I noticed a car near the stop sign on the one way road coming from the south. It looked to me like he was slowing to a stop so I kept on going, as I was almost across the street I felt the impact and felt my bike skid out to the side and I was spun about 90 degrees, so I was faceing sort of South-Southeast ( I was facing east). Luckly I wasn't thrown off the bike or injured in anyway, and thankfully the person who hit me was an older fellow who had gotten into an acident before and didn't have me or my familly pay for damages. He was more worryed about me then his car. We exchanged info and went on our ways. He stopped by my house later that day to make sure everything was ok. My back tire was bent and his car had some paint chipped (if I recall correctly, this happend about 3 or 4 years ago when I was about 13, 14, or 15 can't remember). It was mainly my fault, since I didn't stop at the stop sign and I was driving reclessly (no, really it was my fault). I guess I got off easy, though I do agree cars are shit and should be banned(especially SUV).

Sometimes it is the bicylist's fault 03.Oct.2003 15:52

mama on bike KarenMcElravy@aol.com

Sometimes it is the cyclist's fault, like the previous commenter says. I used to ride my bike on the sidewalk on the main road near my house that doesn't have a bike lane since coming home at the end of the day I have the baby in the seat on the back and am tired and slow. I came to a cross walk with a walk sign and went across without looking. A car was making a left turn and didn't see me on the sidewalk and we collided in the crosswalk. The bike tipped over and baby cheek met pavement (thank god for bike helmets).

We did the various post-accident things: insurance exchange, witness gathering, emergency room visits. The baby was fine and I was fine (eventually) and the bike was fine. I didn't see any point in filing a claim, but the other guy's insurance company left a message. I ended up having a conversation with a lawyer who said that she's pretty sure there is a law against bikes riding on the sidewalk and they could decide it's my fault and ask me to reimburse them for fixing the scratch on his door. So far the insurance company hasn't tried to contact me further and will probably just write it off as an unisured motorist.

Plus, the driver said he would have seen me if I'd been on the road. So it wasn't safer to be on the sidewalk at all. Plus, now I feel like crap that my kid got hurt and it's my fault. So I reccommend that if you must ride on the sidewalk (for instance, going east on Broadway after I ride on the sidewalk and avoid, like, five traffic lights on the way to the day care center) stop before you cross and make eye contact with stopped drivers. (Now I have this cute bell to get their attention that the baby thinks is halarious.) It is really sucky to get in an accident and if it's in your power to avoid it . . . .

On the other hand 06.Oct.2003 09:31


I drove for the first time in a while and was shocked by the number of bikers who believe that they don't need to obey traffic laws. Running red lights, swerving in and out of lanes, on sidewalks, going the wrong direction in traffic...maybe the reason you get hurt so often is that you don't respect the people who are driving and walking next to you.

Not illegal to ride on sidewalk 06.Oct.2003 12:24


In the city of Portland it is not illegal to ride on the sidewalk except downtown as long as when you pass pedestrian you give an audible warning. Don't let some insurance lawyer intimidate you with things she is pretty sure about. Get your own lawyer, and barring that loo up the info yourself, if you were in the crosswalk you are doubly in the right and the fellows insurance should have at least covered medical for you and your baby.

uk bikes 07.Oct.2003 01:50

pictsie pictsie@email2me.net

well I live in the UK and my mum rides her bike everywhere and there are some proper dickheads out there! The only way to survive is to treat everyone, regardless of wether they're a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorist, as a complete and utter idiot.
I also think everyone should be required to resit their driving test every 5 years or so, just so they don't forget how to do it properly.

YES illegal to ride on sidewalk DOWNTOWN 09.Oct.2003 13:29


Subject says it all. It's illegal to ride bikes on the sidewalk in downtown Portland (the definition of which roughly corresponds with TriMet's Fareless Square). It's legal elsewhere in the city. State law says it's legal but gives local governments the option of banning it.


Regarding the bicyclist in the article 10.Oct.2003 10:40

mama on bike KarenMcElravy@aol.com

All this about bikes doing illegal things being said, the rider in this article was riding in the bike lane, got hurt by somebody extremely rude, and therefore should heap large mounds of righteous litiginous anger on the driver and passenger. It sounds like this accident is one that couldn't have been avoided by the bicyclist. I'm not a big fan of lawsuits and stuff, but this is definitely a good reason.

Doored by a parked pickup 16.Feb.2004 17:13

Calvin M. White balckbikee@allvantage.com

Faal of 1990, In Portland, OR heading nortbound on SE 12 Ave ablock from SE Division. A man in a black datsun PU opened his passenger side door about 6 feet in front of me. The PU bed was empty and the driver had a side mirror and a rearview mirror to see me. I was not able to see thru his tinted glass, with the sun at my back.No damage was sustained by my bike but I strained my right chest muscle (pectorialis).We exchanged insurance data. The force of me hittin his door folded the door backwards. When I made a claim thru State Farm insurance for my medical bills( Kaiser Permanente, my HMO tries to recover damages from the motorist's insurer) , I discovered the driver of the PU counter-claimed me for $200.00 to he car door.He also had a friend at work co-oberate in his favor.I would have been screwed except we both had the same insurer and the adjuster decided that our claims canceled each other out. I was appalled that the driver had any claim against me at all, because he opened his door at a distance that I could not stop.

6909 NE 149th Ct.; Vancouver, WA 98682

results may vary 17.Mar.2004 15:58

tall man code red (back from the dead)

i think the biggest problem with the bike lanes is that "federal standards" are crap. "federal standards" say that a multi-use bike/jog path need only be 7 feet wide. the 205 path is 10' in most places and that's still narrow when you've got two bikes going 25 passing at a closing speed of 50-55mph.

so you've got good bike lanes, like the one going down SW 12th from over by PSU to burnside, which are more than wide enough for you to avoid a door, etc. and then you've got SHIT bike lanes, like on ne broadway, the bike lane on ne broadway going west where you've got the broadway-weidler couplet is so fucking narrow that even if you ride *on* the white line seperating the traffic lane from the bike lane you're still in the door zone.

i have an idea for this but i'm gonna post it on zoobomb.org instead of here :P

not really relevant 30.Apr.2004 12:29


I would like to meet the guy who can do 25mph going north (uphill) on the I-205 bridge. My smart alecky comment aside, your point is completely valid.

I've been in Portland for five years now and just wanted to offer some thoughts. First, a disclaimer. I've been a cyclist for 10 years now, and my heart is with every single person not in a car, on a motorcycle, or one of those scooters that are now becoming popular.

More than occasionally I witness kids doing dangerous things on their bikes. You know who you are out there. I definitely break traffic laws (treating stop signs as yield signs and traffic lights as stop signs), but I think it is important for everyone to be responsible for their own actions. If you don't follow the rules - cars don't know what to expect from you. Generally, I've found it best to be as law abiding as you can manage. If I'm running a light and I get hit, in fairness to reasonably good people, it is my fault, not theirs. In a just world, there wouldn't be a car to be hit by, but in this world there are cars. Be courteous out there.

Also, while I do my share of scofflawing, I try to sew some goodness at other times. When drivers do nice things (things that they're morally & legally obligated to do but do _not_ do in most of the country) it's important to say thanks. Wave, smile, nod. The more we show them that we are considerate and reasonable human beings, the less they will view us as obstructions to their driving. Again, it shouldn't have to be this way, but given that it is, this is probably the best way for us to behave.

As for the original posting, I think it's very important to sue the woman who doored the cyclist. Too bad the victim likely isn't reading this. It sounds like the driver had a conscience and didn't just drive off. But the woman telling him to leave and yelling at the bike, she needs to be taken down. If it were me and if I knew where she lived...