Doored out of my mind

Before you marvel at the odd beauty of what might be an Aurora Borealis, or a hazy sunset, or NASA’s newest composite photo of some strangely lit galaxy, please take note of the fact that this unlikely conglomeration of splotches and swirls is, in fact, a 10 inch long and four inch wide bruise on my outer right thigh. Please also take note that I obviously awkwardly photographed this myself at my office cubicle.

There are certain urban rites of passage that afford their unlucky victims the consolation prize of bragging rights. With this post, I am cashing in – on Friday morning, during my bike commute to work, I was whacked by the car door of an oblivious motorist. And golly, did it hurt.

I was riding west down R Street just before 14th – which, astute readers will know, is a one-way street with a bike lane. As far as cycling routes go, this one couldn’t get much more sensible. I can’t be quite sure when the door was opened or at what angle I got womped with it, but I can be certain that the driver was pretty shocked to get a door full of pissed cyclist even though she had opened it lackadaisically without looking into a clearly marked lane of traffic. I don’t remember seeing it coming, either – just the feeling of being smacked hard, lowering my legs fast to avoid falling, and rolling to the safety of the curb in a haze of words I could only spell here with pound signs and asterisks. I have been told to be relieved that it wasn’t worse. I guess I am lucky – many people and their bikes have fared far worse in urban doorings than I did. The driver got out to apologize and see if I was alright – in hindsight, I should have gotten her insurance information, but I was too shaken up to think of it until I rode off with my thigh still buzzing. I cussed loudly out of pain, but not at the driver herself – although, many friends told me afterward that I should have told her off. I think that most of us are probably much more bad-ass in our hypothetical hindsight.

I am okay – as far as I can tell, neither my body nor bike incurred any further damage than being temporarily tattooed with the most conspicuous bruise I’ve ever had. Given that we still have many weeks of miserably high temperatures, I am sure that the sprawling purple blob will dip maddeningly below my hemlines well into the fall. It’s hard and raised to the touch, and still tender and sore. My thighs, hardly beacons of muscle tone, jiggle slightly when I walk – and I feel the bruise slightly with each step.

So, I was tempted to just shrug this one off as a fact of urban living, and in a way, that is what it was. Plenty of people get whacked by doors on bikes, or even worse. I feel like I hear a lot of people seething over crazy cyclists weaving through traffic, blowing stop signs, and cutting off cars. Besides cyclists themselves, not as many people moan about the dick moves of motorists who forget that bikes exist. They are, for some reason, given the benefit of the doubt.

If you are in a car in a dense urban area, you deserve every inconvenience you incur. Cities are designed to be conducive to those of us without automobiles – they are chock-full of metros, buses, bike lanes and short-term rental options. Pedestrians speckle the streets. Sure, people have a perfect right to travel by car – but I would advocate a steep attitude shift amongst motorists. They ought to defer to pedestrians and cyclists and drive around their needs, and not vice versa. Hombre, quit acting like you own the place. You’re in a car. You’re papoosed in an angry little cocoon of steel. Your machine is spitting the stuff that makes polar bears homeless. This is not the time to act like an ass.

Motorists do not deserve a gentle stream of reminders that they share the streets with people and bicycles. Look out of your freaking window before you open your door, you shmoo. There is a drawing of a little guy on a bike wearing a goofy hat every eight feet. IT IS THERE. LOOK AT IT. ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT THERE IS WHITE PAINT RIGHT NEXT TO YOU, CONTRASTING WITH THE BLACK ROAD, AND THAT THE SYMBOL MEANS SOMETHING.

As for me, I am glad that both myself and my sunny yellow bike are safe. I didn’t stop to check, but I really hope that the collision messed up her car. And I hope the world is ready for a weeks-long eyeful of one hell of an icky-looking thigh.

– An irritated and slightly tenderized Natalie

About Natalie Shure

literature, life and latte lady

9 Responses to “Doored out of my mind”

  1. Dunno that I agree with the nasty words toward vehicle owners. Sure everyone should be careful when they open doors, drive cars/bikes, and even walk, but stay mindful those “black roads” you mentioned were designed for automobiles. Sure we’ve recently began adding an additional line for cyclists, but cyclists need to be just as alert as motorcyclists do to the fact that they’re smaller, more difficult to see and ultimately the ones that will recieve the worse end of the deal when a mistake occurs. Defensive driving applies to cyclists as well as motorists. Sorry to hear about your mishap. She absolutely should have checked before opening the door. Hope your leg heals up in no time.

    • Hi Sam. I totally agree with the comments that Natalie made, and disagree with yours. Although it was nice that you supported her. The mentality of north american drivers is horrible. In order of importance, it should be pedestrians, cyclists, public transport and bottom barrel is automobiles.
      This is simple. This is going of course in order of environmental positioning of the mode of transportation, and at the same time by way of who can more easily be injured (conversely who can do the least damage, both immediately to other humans, and the environment). Drivers need to take on the responsibility of their actions and be much more aware of who they are running over. The attitude of owning the road, and that cyclists need to get out of the way is just totally unnacceptable. Congestion is caused by automobiles, and there are not enough dedicated lanes…..and I don’t mean cycle lanes, I mean full vehicle lanes……for buses and bicycles. London england has it done the right way. You also need to remember that bikes have the right of way. Generally cars are passing, and any vehicle in front has the right of way. If cyclists are treated properly and given enough space on the road, it’s even that much harder for the cyclists who behave innapropriately to justify their habits.

      Natalie, hope you’ve healed (mentally too!!)

      CL from Canada.

  2. Thanks, Sam – I hope it heals quickly too.

    It would of course behoove all of us to be more careful and attentive when anywhere near a city street. I guess I am just saying that I wish that public rhetoric would steer slightly away from “people and cyclists need to be careful of cars,” and a bit more toward “cars need to be careful of people and cyclists.” In the end, though, we should all be accountable for our actions and share the road equitably.

  3. I am in pain just looking at that! Hope you recover soon.

  4. oh my gosh that bruise looks painful! glad you’re okay.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A Texan’s thoughts on the Beltway | broadsofthebeltway - 2011/09/13

    […] Bicycling is definitely the easiest and fastest way to get around town. While biking in the city can be dangerous, bike lanes and sidewalks are usually available to help increase cyclist […]

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