Yesterday, around 6:15pm, while riding in Long Island City a woman getting out of the backseat of a car service (or black cab) opened her car door into me while I was on my bike.
She was exiting the car street side(not curbside), and her door was opened into my body (my leg has a door shaped bruise on it). The car service was double parked.
I was knocked to the ground. The woman who hit me seemed concerned. Her friend, who got out of the other side of the car, started to immediately tell me I was at fault for not seeing her exiting (please note the door hit me, I did not run into the door), and the car service drove off even though I kept asking him to stop so that I could get insurance information/tag number/ ect. The other passenger kept saying “We are cyclist too, and you should have been watching more closely” (or something to that affect), which honestly wasn’t helping the situation…but I kept my cool.
I was able to get the license plate number of the car service car that drove off (and a Northside driver even wrote the number down and handed it to me). I got the name and phone number of the woman who opened her door into me (and when I asked if I could call the number to make sure it worked her friend got angry at me. I was just trying to cover my bases).
Then I called the police. I did the thing that I thought you were supposed to do when something like this happens (which I did not do the first time this happened to me).
The police show up, and did not even get out of the car.
The officer asks me what happened, and specified that he wanted to know which way I was riding. I felt like from the get go he was trying to find something that I was doing wrong, like riding the wrong way on a one way street…which was not the case.
I explained that I was riding my bike, and that a car service passenger opened their door into me. The officer proceeded to tell me that I was at fault. Since the car wasn’t moving he would treat it like I ran into the car.
I tried to discuss the situation with the officer, and told him that it wasn’t that I ran into the door but rather the door was opened into the side of me. The officer said it didn’t matter, and that he considered the incident to be my fault.
He told me that bicycles are subject to all traffic laws that cars are (which I know is not exactly the case, but pretty darn close), and that it is legal for car services/taxis to double park to let out passengers and that I should have been more careful. I am 100% confident that I was not violating any laws.
The officer proceeded to tell me that he would not file a report on the incident, but I could go down to the police station and maybe they would take one. I felt that the officer could have been nicer to a person who had just been thrown to the ground, and overall just made me feel pretty bad about our system.
At that point I asked for his name and badge number. He gave it to me, and then drove off.
I’m not sure what I would use all this information for, but I wanted to fully document the event.
I do have a bell to signal, and I use it regularly.
Since my front tire didn’t hit the door, I’m unsure how it could be said that I ran into the car.
Does anyone know if there are laws about what side of cars passengers are supposed to exit out of? Street side vs curb side?
Hypothetically: if a person in a car opened their car door into a moving car wouldn’t the person opening the door be at fault?
Do people report these types of incidents? What have you done? Has anything come of it? Has the car driven off?
I’m taking my bike into the shop to be assessed for damages, and my body to the doctor for the same thing.
I’m not sure that I need to take any further actions, but I would like to know what I should do in a situation like this.
Please comment with thoughts, suggestions, experiences.
thanks for all the comments. i’m going to have a follow up post with my experience at the police station. i appreciate all the advice.