What happens if I get “doored” in Ontario?
Winning the “door prize” is an experience all cyclists dread. You’re happily biking down the road, when suddenly a car door is opened in front of you and before you have time to stop you’re flying through the air.
The first thing to do after you’ve been doored is make sure you’re safe. If you can, get off the road, and if necessary, seek medical attention.
Many people don’t realize that collisions between a bike (and/or a pedestrian) and a vehicle are still considered motor vehicle accidents. This means that if you have car insurance, you will be able to apply for accident benefits from your own insurer. Dooring, like any bike accident, can cause very serious injuries, including concussions and broken bones. Accident benefits through your insurance can help cover damages including medical expenses, physiotherapy and rehab, and even income replacement if you missed work as a result of the accident.
As cyclists are not required to have insurance, the insurer of the driver of the vehicle may be required to provide you with accident benefits if you do not have your own insurance. Make sure you take the following steps to assist you in accessing those benefits:
- Make sure to take down the driver’s name and contact information, as well as their insurer and policy number.
- If anyone saw the accident, ask them for their name and contact information as well.
- Take pictures of the scene, including any damage to your bike or the vehicle, and any signs or road markings.
- If the police were not called, you should report the accident at your local collision reporting centre.
I also encourage all cyclists who are injured to let their city councillor know where the accident happened. One of the best ways to protect cyclists from dooring accidents is protected bike lanes. As dooring statistics are not officially tracked in Ontario, you can also report your accident on bikemaps.org, which is an interactive map showing the location of bike accidents and hazards.
If you’re a driver who wants to avoid dooring a cyclist, try using the “Dutch Reach” method. Open your car door with the hand furthest from the handle. So if you’re the driver, you would reach across with your right hand to open the door. This naturally twists your body so you can easily check if any cyclists are approaching your car from behind.
If you have been seriously hurt, insurance may not fully compensate you for your injuries. Consider speaking to a cyclist lawyer to help you navigate your options.