Bikes, Car Doors and California Law – An Incident at the Juicy Couture

I gotta tell you I don’t know a whit about the Yelp-rated Juicy Couture store at 865 Market Street. What I do know is that its manifest succulence makes it a magnet for tourists like these folks with the  white Subaru wagon from the east bay. Since Juicy has an address on Market, drivers are apt to stop right out front to drop off passengers. But the problem with that is that it blocks half of the inbound lanes.

And sometimes you get “doorings,” detailed below.

After the creating the recent “Incident at Juicy Couture,” these east bay tourists moved along to a parking cutout in front of the the bebe reserved for commercial vehicles. That’s one way to do it:

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The thing is that these days, lots of people are riding bikes on Market Street. Back in the day, there used to be more bike messengers, but now it’s mostly people commuting to work in the Financh and the SoMA. So, when you open your car door you need to make sure that you’re not going to “door” a cyclist that’s zipping by your vehicle.

Does California have a special law covering this issue? Of course. The DMV calls it “Opening and Closing Doors”

“22517.  No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic…”

What that means is that it’s almost impossible to door a cyclist without it being your fault. Typically, a dooring results from the driver trying to exit a parked vehicle. But the driver in the Subie above didn’t get out of the car. In this case the driver left some room, maybe two or three feet, between the right side of the wagon and the curb. That left enough space for a cyclist to come through and then get surprised when a passenger on the right side opened a door to exit.

The author of California Vehicle Code Section 22517 seems not to have anticipated  the possibility of “moving traffic” flowing past both sides of a parked vehicle, but any injuries to the cyclist would almost certainly be the fault of the passenger or the driver (depending on the circumstances).

Now in other states, things might be different – O.K. fine. (Actually, in other states, they say things like, “My Door Almost Got ‘Biked.’”

But in California, you need to take extra care before opening your car door. Just saying.

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3 Responses to “Bikes, Car Doors and California Law – An Incident at the Juicy Couture”

  1. Dave Dudley says:

    …CVC 22502(a) required that car driver to park within 18 inches of the curb; he did not. CVC 21202(a) Required that bike rider to “ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb” except (1) ” When overtaking another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction “. The bike rider was not in compliance when he passed this parked car on the right, between the curb and the vehicle.
    …The violation, if there is one, of CVC 22517, will hinge on whether it is reasonable to expect a bicycle to be riden between this illegally parked car and the curb and whether the right side passengers(s) can be reasonably expected to look for this rider before openning their door.
    …I don’t think so.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Well I get your point, but there’s no stopping allowed here on this part of Market Street – what you have are a few commercial-vehicle-only areas.
    In this case, it appeared that the car was in its lane stalled in traffic, which is par for the course.

    If the passenger sponataneously decides to get out on the right side, there’s not much of a chance for the cyclist…

  3. Dave Dudley says:

    …Not much chance at all, as doors open faster than you can stop. This type of collision was not that unusual in stop and go traffic when a lot of folks smoked in their cars. The drivers, bored with a full ashtray, would often open their drivers doors to dump the butts on the street. Motorcycles splitting traffic got a big surprise. When I was working (CHP ) I saw a lot of ciggy butts in the roadway at the N/B exit to Vista Point at the north end of the GG Bridge. Folks waiting in line for the exit in the summer dumped them there. The deer would come up onto the roadway from East Fort Baker at night to eat them. I just about clobbered a doe there early one morning in 1981. Who expects to see a deer on the GG Bridge at 0300hrs, in the fog ?