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But I mean come on. It was an accident involving a bike. By definition, "the biker must have done something wrong." ;-)

Oof, wishing you a speedy recovery. It's not entirely clear from the description where the passing took place. I've been doored on the sidewalk side of the road. I didn't blame the kid who popped the door open. Passing on the curb through stopped traffic invites the right hook, the left hook, and the door.

Keep us posted on the result. Hopefully with a copy of the DC laws it will be a quick ordeal.

About that helmet: note that just because it's not cracked, it still may need replacing! Check it out carefully! Just a side note - the more important thing is: Glad you're okay Micah; heal up quickly; and we're all behind you 100%!

All the best wishes for a speedy discovery! Hopefully the ticket is voided and the passenger is held responsible.

That police in DC (whatever service they are in) are rather clueless is not news, of course. Almost the exact same thing happened to a fellow bike commuter in my building in April where a passenger opened the dorr and !BAM! he got whacked. Police officer tried to tell him he was not allowed to pass between cars. I showed him the handy WABA booklet I carry around and which has the pertinent information but of course this did not help him too much afterwards.

Also: I second Chris' comment on the helmet. Just as with child safety seats or seat belts in cars, after an accident you should replace them even if there is no visible damage. The crash-absorbing properties that you bought them for have been used and they will not protect you adequately the next time.

umm.... If this person "flew over the handle bars" when they hit the door, then they were going WAY too fast as they passed.

I'm ok with bikers passing cars on either side, but bikers must slow down when they do so.

Dangerous driving should not be excused just because it occurs on a bike.

(but taxi drivers should also know better than to let someone out with out checking behind them)

That's a tough one. I got doored by an exiting taxi passenger once, they're even more unpredictable than drivers. Learned the hard way (cracked a finger) to go cautiously while passing cabs on the right, even if they don't look like they're offloading. Getting a bogus ticket on top of it just stinks.

What defines "pass[ing] with safety"? Going so fast that you and your bike flip over the door?

It's not clear the the taxi was in the right or left lane, but I am assuming they were in the right lane.

Taxis discharging passengers is part of life in the city. It sounds like the rider was moving at a decent clip given his inability to stop and the severity with which he flew off his bike.

A passenger in a taxi cannot easily ensure that there's no traffic coming from behind them on the right before opening the door. They don't have a mirror, and they don't have the visibility necessary. Even if they had the forethough to turn around 180 degrees in their seat and look out the back of the car, which would not be intuitive for most people to do when the cab was in the right lane and they were exiting curbside, by the time they had turned back around and dealt with whatever they might be carrying to get out of the car, a bike moving at 10-15mph could still be there.

Further, since cab passengers are almost always exiting from the right-hand side of the vehicle, there's no reason for them to expect something to be there.

What I see is a possibly unavoidable consequence of cyclists riding in places where no other vehicle normally would be. Riding between the rightmost lane and the curb (or parked cars) at anything other than a very slow speed just seems unsafe.

There needs to be a balance of responsibility for people sharing the road. If you ride in places that others can't easily see you, you should do so cautiously. It doesn't seem reasonable to me, that cyclists should have special privileges on the road (e.g., riding between lanes, passing stopped cars at intersections, and so on) that other road users do not have, while placing the full responsibility for their safety on the other road users.

I will not ever side with a driver in situations where they pass a cyclist unsafely, crowd them out, cut them off, when the cyclist is using the road like a car. Likewise, when opening a door into the traffic side (e.g. where bike lanes are), the responsibility is with the driver. They have a mirror, and they are opening their door into a travel lane.

But this was not a travel lane. The bike was passing a car on the right, presumably in the same lane. It may technically be legal, but to do so is obviously at their own peril. It would be very difficult to expect the taxi passenger to be able to ensure 100% of the time that nobody was in that space, and they shouldn't have to, since it was "their space" at that moment in time.

I'm not familiar with DC biking laws, but the "as necessary to pass with safety" clause indicates to me that Micah got a ticket because there was no reason for him to have passed for safety reasons.


Is moving up like this at a red light even legal in DC?

A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass other vehicles on the left or right side...

Yes, passing is legal on either side

...or changing to a different lane, or riding off the roadway, as necessary to pass with safety.

You can change lanes or ride off the roadway, if necessary to pass safely. If he did not change lines or ride off the roadway, that does not apply.

I love the thoughtfull comments of all the trolls who have quite apparently not spent any time on a bike in the city, cannot read the sections of the code pasted in the post and do not have a good grasp of physics (here: what happens when you stop a moving object).

Keep up the good trolling guys.

JA - There are other ways of describing something that is, as you say, "technically legal." "Actually legal," or just plain "legal." It's bizarre that you don't feel taxi passengers should be burdened by having to turn around to see if their actions will cause injury to others, but the law says differently -- both "technically" and actually.

And for those who assume that because WashCycle describes the biker as having "flown" over the handlebars, the bike must have been going to fast, two things: I think WC may be engaging in a bit of hyperbole about the "flying." But even if he's not, as an experiment, try coasting slowly (at, say, 5mph) on a bike and slamming into a stationary object, like a retaining wall, or a car. (Be sure to wear a helmet.) Try it when you're standing on the pedals (but not pedaling) too. Record results. Let us know if you went over the bars.

I think a few things would help. First, if Taxi's would pull to the curb.

I don't know why, but they rarely pull to the curb. If you're a passenger, you could get clipped by a bicyclist or a scooter, and that could get ugly. Demand that they pull to the curb.

Second, the light on top ought to indicate that they've stopped. What is the deal with lights on taxi's in this town. In NYC, lit means available, and dark means taken. But, when a NY Cab is collecting a fare payment, the top light is on signalling that it's available.

Third, it'd help a lot if the passengers had some sort of rear view mirror. Unlikely to happen, of course...

Oh, and Micah - I hope you're feeling better!

Eric W., just speaking as another commenter, I'd appreciate it if you stuck to the facts of the debate rather than calling people names.

What happened to Micah is a shame, and I wish him luck, but I agree that it sounds like he may have been going too fast. I go very slow when I filter on the right, because I'm aware of the elevated risk of dooring.

The passing took place on the sidewalk side of the taxi between the taxi and the sidewalk. Taxi was in the right hand lane.

Chris, thanks for adding that. I meant to say the same thing, but forgot.

NVS, Micah is pretty tall and rides a big bike, so his center of mass is higher than average, and maybe higher than the door. Also, in my experience you don't have to go that fast to go over the handle bars.


rdhd & Ckstevenson, the "pass with safety" clause applies only to the "riding off the roadway" part as I read it. So you may ride off the roadway if it is necessary to pass safely. Contrarian will no doubt correct me.

JA, that he was unable to stop is not indicative of speed, it is indicative of speed or distance. If the door opened immediately before he got there, it wouldn't matter. Taxis should and - if the ticket is correct - are supposed to, pull over to the curb so that this sort of thing is impossible. They should also do so midblock. I think what happened was that the taxi got to the light and the passenger decided to get out there. Again, I don't think there is any reason to believe that Micah was riding at a high speed.

Eric. W, I don't think anyone here is trolling. I think they're just expressing a different opinion. I'd also like to see less name-calling.

"flew" is how Micah described it. Maybe we can get the video and see...

For what it's worth, a great deal of speed is not required to flip over the door of a car. The momentum of a 200 lb male going 5 mph is more than enough, given that at bike height, much of your weight is already over the door (especially if on a road bike where your weight is already shifted forward somewhat). I think people are automatically assuming he was going 20 mph through this narrow corridor.

Also, while it is unfortunate this person didn't look before opening the door and it was certainly an accident, people shouldn't make excuses for the passenger - it is clearly against the law to open your door into traffic without ensuring (ENSURING) that is safe to do so.

I got called a troll once on this blog, so I'm a little sensitive to this. Having said that, I am amazed at all the criticism.

Was he going too fast? I don't know, I wasn't there. But that seems a little irrelevant here. The guy got hurt, and it wasn't really his fault. Then, he got a ticket. Cut him some slack, I say!

Sorry WC but it seemed so obvious that I used the common terminology for a person
"who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community [...] with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion." (Wikipedia)

For me it was a clear case of just that. It seemed to me as much name calling as calling a person on a "pedal-driven, human-powered, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other" a bicyclist. (again, quote from Wikipedia)

That's all I am going to say on that topic.

This post was linked to by GGW so we have some new people commenting. Some of them may not be cyclists. But I don't see their comments as trolling. Maybe we should just not call anyone a troll, no matter how accurate it is (myself included).

taxis and doors may break my bones... but names will never hurt me

Great post. I appreciate your focus on the law, which says that filtering is legal if there is room to do it safely.

There is no legal requirement to ride so slow that it is impossible to do an "endo." Back when I was into mountain biking, I certainly demonstrated that one can endo at low speed. There is also no legal requirement to avoid the door zone. As you point out, it is the responsibility of car-passengers to avoid dooring anyone. Hopefully the ticket will be easily contested and the police will get the message.

@Eric W. I'm unsure how my or others' questions the speed at which this man was riding was "inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic." The post makes clear that the writer feels that the rider was unjustly ticketed. Some of us are questioning that. Hence my question.

I hesitated to post my question just because of this. So now I'll stop posting here. Once and gone I guess because a contrary view isn't welcome by you.

And yes, I read the phrase "as necessary to pass with safety" to apply to the entire passage, not just riding off road.

And yes, I ride in this city all the time.

Alright, I'm convinced; I agree the ticket against Micah should be dropped, and he may well have been riding at a completely appropriate speed.

Contrarian will no doubt correct me.

If the cyclist was cited for 2202.2, passing on the right, the defense is easy: that doesn't apply to cyclists.

1201.1 says:
Every person who propels a vehicle by human power or who rides a bicycle on a highway shall have the same duties as any other vehicle operator under this title, except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter, and except for those duties imposed by this title which, by their nature or wording, can have no reasonable application to a bicycle operator.

Since there is a specific section of the law that governs passing by cyclists -- 1201 -- section 2202.2 doesn't apply.

I think if I were looking to fault the cyclist I would cite 1201.3 (a):

A person operating a bicycle may overtake and pass another vehicle only under conditions which permit the movement to be made with safety.

Clearing this movement couldn't "be made with safety." What becomes arguable is how much of an obligation a cyclist has to anticipate the illegal actions of others. In general the rule for drivers is that they are only expected to anticipate the lawful actions of others. However, in Washington v. Garcias the DC Court of Appeals ruled that cyclists have a "duty of self-preservation" that requires them to anticipate even the illegal actions of drivers.

Thus, if you're on a bike and you get hit, it's always your fault even if it's not your fault -- you should have anticipated that illegal move and avoided it.

As an aside, the court created this "duty of self-preservation" completely out thin air. It actually runs counter to the statute (1201.1, cited above), which says cyclists have the same duties as the operators of other vehicles.

I realize that the taxi driver got a ticket, but since we're debating the legitimacy of the cyclists ticket, why would we assume the taxi passenger was any more justified in receiving one? This came up at GGW

"2214.4 No person shall open a door of a vehicle on the side where traffic is approaching unless it can be done without interfering with moving traffic or pedestrians and with safety to himself or herself and passengers."

Why would anyone interpret "the side where traffic is approaching" as being the right side when the car was in the curb lane?

I think there's little point in arguing about the nuances of the law. I mention this only because everyone here seems convinced that the taxicab passenger broke a law, and that means they were wrong. I don't think they broke a law. I don't think the cyclist did, either.

But it's irrelevant. I'm much more interested in what is a reasonable way to act when you are in a car or on a bike.

I don't think that "opening the right-side door of a car when you are on the rightmost lane of a road" is unreasonable in terms of safeguarding others. Nor is it especially practical to do so in many cases.

What if there was a large vehicle behind the cab? The passenger has no mirror. They can only look straight out the back. They might not be able to see more than 20 feet behind them into the curb lane, looking for something not even as tall as an SUV. What if the passenger could not physically turn all the way around in the seat of a car because they are overweight, elderly, or handicapped?

Riding between stopped cars and the curb lane is unsafe. It is not always possible for someone in a car to ensure with 100% certainty that a vehicle of a certain speed is not going to be in their space in a few seconds.

This is why I think this is risky behavior for a cyclist. It doesn't matter if it's technically legal (which it may be, since "safely" is pretty subjective), and it doesn't matter if the taxi door opener is technically in violation of the law (which I doubt they are, unless you think the space between the right lane and the curb is "the side where traffic is approaching"). All that matters is, is it risky? Is it reasonable to expect others to be able to see you approach in this way, given common situations like this?

I don't think it is reasonable to place this burden entirely on others. Use of the space between stopped cars and the curb is a privilege. It could easily be argued that using this space to pass stopped cars is inherently unsafe, and therefore violates the 1201.3(a) law. I am not making that argument, I am just saying that human beings cannot be expected to have a god's eye view of their situation all the time. Cyclists need to be aware that riding between lanes like this will create situations where others may not be able to see them.


JA: You can't ride anywhere with 100% certainty that someone else won't do something stupid you can't avoid.

Even when you are pulled all the way to the curb (which this cab wasn't), passengers need to open their door with care, or they still violate the law you cited (note "pedestrians").

The solution is simple: Look first, then open the door in a slow and steady fashion. Even if you misjudged the safety, you will still be communicating the action to those approaching.

Taxi was in the right lane, "The taxi driver got a ticket for failing to pull over to discharge passengers. " If the taxi was pulled to the curb as required, there would not be room for the cyclist to pass. Therefore the cyclist was likely making a legal maneuver.

"If the taxi was pulled to the curb as required, there would not be room for the cyclist to pass. Therefore the cyclist was likely making a legal maneuver."

What if there were parked cars to the right of the cab, as is often the case?

JA: Please quit making up facts to blame the victim.

@Ron Alford, I said "what if." I was asking a hypothetical question. "What if."

The reason I think it's a question worth asking is because many people are focusing on whether or not this maneuver was legal.

The law makes no distinction about whether there are cars parked to the vehicle's right nor not.

So I will ask again. What if there were cars parked to the cab's right? Would it be legal? Would it be any more or less reasonable for a bike to pass?

The law as it would apply to both the taxi and the bike would be identical.

You know, Ron Alford, the picture you posted doesn't exactly support the cyclist's position.

If that is where the accident happened, and the cab was in the right lane... er... how could he NOT have been "pulled over?" There is no shoulder.

Conjecture -- Those look like 10 foot lanes (relatively narrow). Guideline car is 7 feet wide (per AASHTO), leaving 3 feet of clearance. Guideline bicycle rider is 2 feet wide (again, AASHTO). Because of the constrained space (remember, other cars queued around as well), where the rider chose to filter past the cab was likely determined in large part by where the cab was positioned in the lane. That he passed on the right would indicate that the cab probably was cheating leftward in the lane, leaving inadequate space to pass in the center.

Anyway, if the worst driving case scenario of the cab being three feet away from the curb were true, I'd say that I wouldn't consider the cab 'pulled over.'

@Ron Alford,
That video is incredible! Subtract one life from that cyclist - eight more to go.

I was very nearly doored this past Thursday on H St NW (near the White House). I was filtering up through the grid lock (cars were stopped) between lanes 2 & 3.

Seeing open space in lane 1 I crossed over but soon ran up on a (illegally) parked car. As I swung to go by him on the left the driver's door pooped open.

I had just enough time to fling the bike left and managed to clear the door with only the scrapping of my arm and leg. I think the very loud ughhhhhh! out of my mouth kept the driver from fully opening the door.

My takeaway from this is:
1) VC is very nice!
2) If you are going to filter - only do it between lanes 2/3 or greater.

A few years ago a friend was injured bicycling in Philadelphia. She was riding in a narrow bicycle lane in University City. It was basically one of those gutter pan lanes.

The line of cars to her left was stopped for a light and she was filtering forward in the bike lane. A cab passenger decides to get out while the cab is stopped and the door catches my friend's pedal.

She ends up with a broken foot and bruises.

Philadelphia's laws are very similar to DCs, I think, but in this case the cab got a ticket for an "illegal discharge of passenger" or some such.


I don't know if the presence of a bike lane made the situation any clearer. In my opinion, whether or not there is a bike lane, you have to be very careful filtering forward, especially as you approach the intersection. But we all worry about getting doored from cars to our right. Occasionally it can happen from the left.

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