Cycling Toddler, Dad Sent to Hospital After Getting "Doored" by Driver

The driver was cited by police after the incident on Masonic on Wednesday. A local alternative transportation advocacy group says it's working to improve safety in the area.

A 49-year-old driver from Los Angeles received a ticket last week in Albany after sending a cyclist and his son to the hospital; authorities said Monday that he struck the pair with his car door.

Wednesday, just before 9 a.m., a cyclist with an attached child trailer was traveling south on Masonic Avenue, at Solano Avenue, when the driver of a Prius, who was parked along the right-hand curb, opened his door into them, said Lt. John Geissberger of the .

The door struck the bicycle trailer, sending the cyclist off the bike, said Geissberger. A 3-year-old boy in the trailer suffered a laceration to the face from the impact. The cyclist suffered minor abrasions, and both were transported by ambulance to the hospital.

The Prius driver was cited in connection with section 22517 of the Vehicle Code, said Geissberger. The code dictates that drivers shall not open their doors unless it is safe to do so, and it "can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic." The code continues, "nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."

Lesly Flynn Ibser commented Monday on Facebook that it was her child and husband who were in the accident.

"They were on Masonic instead of the BART tracks . My son was taken by ambulance to Children's Hospital where he ended up having plastic surgery on his face. My husband is still suffering from a concussion."

(The BART path is ; read more on Albany Patch .)

Amy Smolens, of the , responded online to Ibser that the cycling and pedestrian advocacy group "is working on solving the problem on Masonic ASAP so accidents like this don't happen again. We realize that cyclists who usually ride the are now using Masonic, and will be for the next year or so."

She continued: "We are working with the City to create awareness by motorists that more cyclists than usual will be sharing Masonic, and to ensure safer conditions for cyclists. 

"Also, one of our members has designed clings for cars asking motorists to 'Check for Bikes.' We will be unveiling them soon, and they will create greater awareness of cyclists by motorists and thus, safer cycling."

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Everybody makes mistakes ... ! If there's something in this article you think should be corrected, or if something else is amiss, call editor Emilie Raguso at 510-459-8325 or email her at emilier@patch.com.

Ben Lukas November 02, 2011 at 03:42 AM
This is very sad for the injured cyclists. It should serve as a reminder that a cyclist should never ride in the door zone, that four feet or so directly to the left of parked cars. Statistically, getting "doored" is the most common car/bicycle collision, which is totally preventable for cyclists that keep to the left of the door zone. California vehicle code section 21202 allows a cyclist to "take the lane" when conditions are such that the lane is too narrow for a car to pass safely within the lane. While the polite cyclist will allow cars to pass at safe places, he should not endanger himself to allow cars to pass when it forces him to ride in the door zone.
JJMarieKK November 02, 2011 at 05:27 AM
Healing prayers for dad and the little one. It would be great if the clings designed by the Albany Strollers & Rollers mention pedestrians also. After so many accidents with cars and bikes and pedestrians, we need all the reminders we can get. Stay safe everyone! By the way, I have been wondering why bicyclists are not using the temporary lane created for them. Is it too narrow or do they think it is not for them?
Emilie Raguso November 02, 2011 at 05:54 AM
I've heard a number of comments that it's too narrow for cyclists and pedestrians.
Craig Westbrooke November 02, 2011 at 02:17 PM
...it should also serve as a reminder for a driver of a car to use their mirrors before opening a car door into traffic.
Mark Sandberg November 02, 2011 at 02:39 PM
As someone who bikes this path to work almost every day, I have not found the new configuration to work very well. The new temporary lane is not really wide enough for two bikes to meet going opposite directions without a significant slow-down, so I have tended to avoid it when I am riding southbound. But since the temporary bike lane has squeezed the traffic lanes into a smaller area, there is not much room to avoid the door lane when traveling south on a bike. That has in fact meant that I have been taking the car lane more than I used to, and Imagine the same is true for other cyclists.
gretchen davidson November 02, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Just wondering if the dad and child were wearing helmets? The article says that the father suffered a concussion.
Heike Feltes November 02, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Maybe driver's should be taught to open their car door with the right hand- like in most European countries? If you open your door after your successfully passed driving test with your left hand, you failed the test that moment in Germany! We can talk all we want about people being more careful. Human beings can be trained the proper way. If it turns into automaticity to turn around and look over your shoulder in all drivers- like buckling up- , is when we'll see the number of doored bicyclist being reduced.
Amy Smolens November 02, 2011 at 08:37 PM
If there is any pedestrian/runner traffic or someone pushing a stroller, a cyclist can't pass. It's not like on the Greenway or Bay Trail in which if you ring your bell or say "on your left" the ped can move to the right, since we are all fenced in. Given those restrictions, many cyclists are choosing Masonic as the more efficient route. That's why there will be more cyclists than usual on Masonic for the next year (at the least.)
Amy Smolens November 02, 2011 at 09:53 PM
Very, very good suggestion, Heike.
John Bozek November 03, 2011 at 06:56 PM
As a cyclist who has logged many road miles around the Bay area, I agree with the above comments that the "path" they have carved out of Masonic is too narrow for bikes to pass one another and they are therefore forced onto the road. I haven't even tried to ride in the pathway the few times I have been on Masonic since it opened. The obvious solution is to ban parking on Masonic for the duration of the construction to create another bike path on the other side of the road. I wouldn't want to live on Masonic if they do that, but... On another note, who thinks that chain link fence is adequate protection from the cars on the road. An inattentive driver will be through that fence easily with a 2 ton car (not to mention a 3 ton SUV). Why weren't temporary concrete barriers used?
Emilie Raguso November 04, 2011 at 02:29 AM
Police said both cyclists were wearing helmets.
Mary Flaherty November 05, 2011 at 09:02 PM
When I wrote about the closure of the Ohlone Greenway for Patch last month, I believe I was told by city officials that concrete barriers would take too big a footprint, meaning that either the path or the road, or both, would become even narrower. But i agree with your assessment that the chain link fence is not great protection against cars.
John Doh! November 05, 2011 at 10:44 PM
Didn't need a crystal ball to see this coming. I think the most simple and prudent fix is to widen the temporary path by 1 foot (CALTRANS says it's 7 and that cars used to extend to 8,) and have the path be for BICYCLES ONLY. The sidewalk for pedestrians is just across the street on the west side.
Brian Parsley November 06, 2011 at 02:32 AM
How about walking on the other side of the street?
Linda Rugg November 06, 2011 at 05:22 AM
I also cycle frequently along Masonic, and I have found the fenced-in area to be dangerous to use: the pavement is uneven, so that taking the proper side of the lane with anyone oncoming forces me into unsafe pavement. I now avoid the fenced-in area. I do have to say that when I "take the lane" on the street, which is a legal way to avoid getting doored, some motorists choose to honk or crowd me. It seems that not everyone understands that cyclists are not only allowed but advised to take the lane where the danger of getting hit by a door exists.
Chris Robyn November 06, 2011 at 07:38 AM
I don't ride in the fenced-in area anymore. I tried it a few times. It's too narrow, the surface is uneven, and the recent rain is bringing up oil from cars that used to park there. Use caution.
Amy Smolens November 07, 2011 at 01:31 AM
At this past Thursday's Traffic & Safety Commission meeting, City Staff said that they were going to install Sharrows. Those will help riders like Linda, Chris, John, Mark, Ben and others "take the lane" when necessary and let motorists know that cyclists may be doing so. I asked for "Share The Road" signage in conjunction with the Sharrows and Aleida Andrino-Chavez agreed that those signs are also necessary for safety. Feel free to contact the City and request that they implement these safety measures sooner rather than later so they will know that many people need them.
Emilie Raguso November 07, 2011 at 02:11 AM
Thank you for the update, Amy! What's the best way for folks to reach the city?
Amy Smolens November 07, 2011 at 03:29 AM
I would suggest emailing Albany's Transportation Planner, Aleida Andrino-Chavez, at achavez@albanyca.org .


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