Bicyclists injured in Old Ballard

A man and a woman were riding their bicycles in Old Ballard after 7 p.m. yesterday when a driver opened a car door. Witnesses say the lead cyclist collided with the door, and he hit the ground hard. The woman was unable to stop in time, and she went over the top.

The accident happened here along Ballard Ave. near 20th Ave. “The man was curled in the fetal position in the middle of the road and was unable to move. The girl was sitting on the pavement next to him, nursing her elbow, and people started flocking over,” said Heather, who lives above the accident scene. “I brought down blankets for him, as he was obviously in shock and was not moving, and ice for her elbow. She seemed to only have minor injuries but his seemed to be internal and serious,” she said. “The paramedics came and put him on a stretcher. They were doing a lot of testing for back and neck injuries since he wasn’t moving and put him in a neck brace.” Due to health privacy laws, we’re unable to get an update on his condition. (Thank you Heather and Michael.)

Update: “Kris R.” left this comment: “I was the cyclist riding with my friend yesterday down Ballard Ave. Because I haven’t spoken to insurance nor consulted legal advice just yet, I would like to avoid giving specific details, but both Caitlin and I are feeling sore but otherwise out of the hospital and doing ok. Ironically, we were riding down Ballard Ave because it is safer than taking Shishole Ave NW. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the people that stopped and helped, in particular Heather – the blankets were wonderful and much appreciated – and if I remember her name correctly, ‘Judy’ or ‘Judith’ who stayed with me the entire time. The wonderful doctors and paramedics that took care of me really are angels in disguise. To help someone in their time of need is the grandest gesture of all, and I really do appreciate it.”

By the way, Kris R. sent a Tweet from the hospital: “Got doored in Ballard. In hospital. Chest hurts real bad.” We discovered it on our Ballard Wire page.

227 comments on “Bicyclists injured in Old Ballard”

  1. ” votes to sue a bicycle club, of all things”

    Why, are bicycle sacred or something? Why shouldn't they made made to do an environmental impact study? Why should this project be exempt? What if it causes more idling trucks, with more exhaust and emissions being released? I want to know before this path is built.

    Grow the **** up.

  2. hey fella – if you injure me with your lack of attention (ie, check before you fling your door open..) in an illegal manor, you shall pay……

    what is so terrible about that? if this person misses work as a result? suffers life long pain? worth nothing, is it?

  3. We decided the driver was at fault because the law is pretty clear on this. If you open a car door and someone hits it, you're at fault. Also the two cyclists have commented on here as well, so I'd say that there would have to be some pretty extreme circumstances (involving alien abductions? zombies? what?) to show this to be anything other than the very common driver not seeing the cyclists (notice I didn't even say not looking) and opening their door into them. This doesn't mean that the driver was sitting in their car for hours waiting for the perfect moment to open their door and catch a cyclist, but it doesn't have to be intentional for the driver to be liable or at fault. Just because you didn't mean to hurt someone doesn't mean you're not at fault for hurting them.
    On the flipside, you seem to think that because you have seen some cyclists riding in ways that you don't approve of that the cyclists here must be at fault or at least capable of being at fault.
    'Zipping' in and out of traffic isn't very specific, but passing on the left and right are perfectly legal for cyclists as is entering and exiting traffic and riding right up to the speed limit. It might not look very safe to you, and it might not be, but it's not necessarily illegal or even crazy depending on that cyclist's skill and experience.

  4. There is a difference between stopping when the person in front of you hits the brakes and takes 20 feet and a few seconds to stop vs the person in front of you coming to a dead stop instantly. Don't be too harsh on cyclist #2.
    Yes, we should leave more room, but I don't know how easy it is to avoid an instant stop when someone gets thrown in the air, a bike gets ejected in front of you, and you now have a fully opened car door from the impact to avoid as well.

  5. Imagine if you're driving your car at a safe and reasonable distance and the car in front of you slams on the brakes. You see the red lights and have to hit the brakes too and the difference between you hitting the car in front of you is the distance between you.
    Imagine if you're driving and the car in front of you magically turns into a solid brick wall without any warning. No red brake lights, no stopping distance of the car in front of you as a buffer, and this is not something you've ever encountered before. How much room do you need to stop before a brick wall vs a buffer of the other car's stopping distance added to your distance from that car? Not so easy anymore is it?

    mothe, your comment is uncalled for.

  6. It's “Old Ballard”. Better to send a carton of Marlboro's.

    Just kidding! I'm sure she's a lovely person, but I too have to wonder how eagerly the BCoC stepped in it. How many people are even there at the BCoC anyway “who care”?

  7. I kinda liked the idea of an illegal manor where one could run around the property and fling doors open and shut in a careless manner all the while flaunting the law. Sounds like fun.

  8. I have missed work because of this.
    I cannot take part in my favorite pasttime – bicycle riding and events such as Livestrong and Tour De Cure – because of this.
    I have had to buy medication because of this.
    I have to take the time to get the bike assessed by a bicycle store for damage because of this. If the bike is written off, it's not some cheap bike from Walmart – it costs enough that I do not want to foot the bill myself to buy another one.
    I need to take time to source the replacement costs of bicycle gear, including the backpack that was cut off me by medics as a direct result of this.
    I have to go back to the doctor for a check up. That requires more time, because of this, and incurs a financial cost as well.
    I don't know the last time you were in a hospital emergency room, but have you seen the size of the medical bills there?

    These things add up. Most of all, I have lost valuable time as a result of this, time where instead of being a burden to my friends and co-workers, I could be putting my skills to good use. If an errant post on the internet could result in financial hardship in addition to the physical pain, wouldn't you be wary?

  9. You obviously don't remember driving class. You are required to maintain a safe enough distance from the vehicle in front of you.
    Now, your above reasoning above applies to the 1st cyclist. because the car door was opened either in front of him or into him, anything behind him is the safety buffer the 2nd cyclist is supposed to maintain, a safety buffer that should be large enough to avoid the vehicle in front of him.

  10. It seems that from the article that the bikers were going the WRONG way down Ballard Avenue …is that true? If so, then wouldn't they be at fault?

    I see cyclists ride the wrong way down the one-way part of Ballard Avenue every day. I am sorry about these folks injuries; when on a bike, you have to realize that you are no match for a car.

  11. You might think selling fuel is critical IF you owned a fishing boat, or had any idea of the economic impact the marine industry has in Seattle.

  12. I am going to encourage everyone I know to attend SeafoodFest. As your mother probably told you, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Here's another thought: why not move OUT of Ballard, to whatever Utopia there is that lets cranky children get their own way? Taking your toys and going home isn't going to solve anything.

  13. The safety buffer is there to handle when the vehicle in front applies their brake (however aggressively) and slows to a stop, not when they come to an immediate stop, by slamming into the door that just opened in front of them, in this case.

  14. Right. A employee who makes $15 gets to take your abuse. That will get you a recording.

  15. Nora – As a former receptionist myself, I can totally commiserate. But it's clear that some of these commenters are so filled with fury that they can't think straight enough to realize the receptionist at the COC can't do a thing for them.

    You are correct: They should go to the source and express their displeasure directly.

  16. Let's do the math…

    What's the percentage of people who own a business in Ballard?
    What's the percentage of those who are members of the CoC?

    What's the percentage of people who know how to ride a bike?

    Which number is bigger?

    And for extra credit, what does this have to do with my post about how many people at the CoC office “care” ?

  17. Why not simply ask to speak to the higher-ups when you call?

    I'm reading a whole lot of excuses for not taking responsibility for the communication with COC.

  18. Sorry, but no, it also covers sudden stops:

    The text right from the driver's guide states:
    “If you follow too closely, you may not have enough time to stop if the vehicle in front of you slows or stops suddenly.”

    Once again, the driver is responsible for the 1st cyclist being injured, not the 2nd, as 2nd should have been able to stop after something happened in front of or to the st cyclist.

  19. I'm Heather, the one that wrote in about the accident.

    First, you are so welcome, Chris. I'm just happy to hear that you're ok! It was so hard to tell what state your were in because you were so hurt at the time. I've been waiting to find something out all day, so I can rest easy now. I hope all of your injuries heal quickly.

    Second, just to stop this silliness, the cyclists involved were not being reckless or doing anything weird or crazy. They were going down the street in the correct lane, pretty slowly, and were getting out of the way of a car coming behind them. I got the impression that the people in the car that hit them with the door had maybe been sitting there for a moment doing something else before opening their door, meaning there was no way the cyclists could have foreseen this. The people in the car felt terrible for what had happened and were right there helping out along with the rest of us. I agree that taking extra steps to be VERY aware of your surroundings is the moral here, but when you're there with everyone in the situation the biggest concern is the health of those injured, not who has the biggest finger to point.

  20. The bike club was named in the suit because it chose to intervene on the side of SDOT in the original appeal of SDOT's decision. It's not like the Chamber went out looking for some poor bike club to victimize – the bike club was named because it put itself in the suit on the opposite side of the issue from the Ballard parties. That's what happens in appeals.

  21. Kris – sorry that you got the door prize, but I'm glad that you'll be ok.

    Drivers – when you wonder why experienced cyclists ride at least 3 feet out from parked cars – it is not to irritate you, but to provide a margin of safety in the event that another careless motorist opens a door without looking.

    SDOT – this is why all of the door zone bike lanes that you have installed in the past couple of years are inherently dangerous – and why experienced cyclists tend not to use them.

    Cyclists – please please please assert your rights to safe space to ride your bike on our shared roadways and don't ride within the door zone of parked cars

    For anyone who is interested, this site has an excellent web based primer on safe cycling:

    Let's all be safe out there!

  22. Thank you. This analysis is pretty spot on to me. Cars have blind spots and sometimes bikes get in them.

    Biking is a wonderful activity. I love riding my bike. It can also get you killed. That's just how it is. Our society is still reliant upon cars like it or not and will always be to some degree. Bikes can never replace them.

    It's crazy that their needs to be so much more input.

  23. althought I'm sorry for the cyclists and wish them a speedy recovery, I believe that it must have really been an accident, and that it could happen to anyone.

    Personally, my little sister was hit by a car and my mom did not sue because she said that it was somethign the person would have to live with for the rest of her life, and that it was an accident that could have happened to anyone.

  24. as someone who bikes and runs alot on the trails, I can tell you this:

    the most inattentive cyclists are typically couples out riding together. I don't know if they're on their first date or some old married couple, but for some reason I see countless examples of couples riding together who seem to think the other one is looking out for them. sure it's irritating when I need to move over on my bike so they can ride abreast as they go by, but I would bet many accidents happen with 'group' riders (like the woman who hit my 5 year old son last year on the b.g. near golden gardens).

    by the way, I'm not saying that's what happened here.
    doesn't surprise me that nina knows a good lawyer–meow!

  25. You truly were wonderful. Sadly, I never got the chance to see your face, so if you see me in the area again please be sure to say hi – I would love to take the time and opportunity to thank you in person. Caitlin just told me that she would love to thank both you and Judy in person too. Really, our gratitude cannot be expressed in words alone.

  26. By your common send if a car crosses over the yellow line and comes at me head on, I should be able to come to a full stop before the collision?
    The point being made here is that this was not stopping behind someone who was coming to a stop, but getting tangled in an accident that came to an instant stop. Besides that, cyclists are allowed to ride side by side so I don't think that the same following distance rules apply except as a suggestion and not an infraction.

  27. “It seems that from the article that the bikers were going the WRONG way down Ballard Avenue …is that true?”

    Where did you get that from? This happened by 20th which is two way. Ballard Ave is only one way on the single block between 22nd and market.

  28. Bicyclists certainly do share blame for many accidents. For example, many cyclists ride on sidewalks, which is significantly more dangerous than riding in the street where vehicles belong.

    Riding on the sidewalk turns every driveway into an uncontrolled intersection with poor visibility.

    Cyclists should take a traffic safety course to learn the facts rather than responding intuitively to misplaced fears. Being hit from behind is rare; being hit by turning vehicles, and those emerging from driveways, is far more common.

    The safest place for a bicycle is where the law suggests — only as far to the right as is safe.

  29. All I know, SPG, is the receptionist probably doesn't. Her job is to transfer calls and probably also distribute mail and keep the lobby clean.

  30. People don't do these things on purpose (in all but the most extreme cases), but that doesn't mean that the person isn't at fault. Everyone is supposed to look out for cars, bikes, buses, strollers, and the unforeseen on the other side of your door before opening it. If you act like nobody else in the world exists or matters than these kinds of things will happen. That is why we have a legal system that punishes those who ignore or take advantage of everyone else.
    Kris did nothing wrong and now has to suffer the consequences of someone else's carelessness. (Kris, I'm sorry that this happened to you, and skip the rest of this as it's kind of a bummer and I don't want to add any stress for you.) I have no idea if Kris plans to sue, more likely his car insurance company, if he has a car, will take over and work it out with the door opener's insurance company and Kris's medical bills and bike will be covered to some degree. This doesn't get Kris back his time, his pain, his health, his income lost, etc. The insurance companies will try to take care of this for the lowest dollar amount they can get away with, turning a $2,000 bike into a $200 repair that won't make it right. Kris has many phone calls ahead to deal with this, and most of them won't be fun. Don't think that being in an accident is some meal ticket akin to winning the lottery, there are no big cash settlements that come anywhere close to making up for what you lose.

    Ballardgirl, I'm sorry for your sister too and I do see your mom's point, but sometimes the people who do these things don't live with it for the rest of their lives, like the multiple DUI suspended license story that gets rewritten every few weeks in the paper after they cause a multiple fatality accident. They didn't mean to do it, but they didn't stop drinking and driving either. I know careless people who keep going through an escalating level of careless events that they didn't mean to happen until they have the 'big one' that causes them to rethink things, at least for a while. I'm not advocating a lawsuit against the driver here, but I wouldn't exactly feel sorry for them either. And let this be a lesson to everyone else, BE CAREFUL and look out for each other.

  31. Sorry, your logic is faulty as the car crossing the line would be oncoming lane traffic traveling towards you.

    The safety buffer is for following.

    as for riding side by side, you are wrong:
    Section 11.44.060 RIDING MORE THAN TWO ABREAST PROHIBITED. Persons operating bicycles upon a roadway or sidewalk shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.

    and if they were in a bike path, most are not wide enough to safely ride 2 abreast and stay in the lane.

  32. Heal up, get well, and get back on the bike.
    If you have a car too, you're usually covered on your car insurance and they'll go after the driver of the other car to collect from his insurance company. That doesn't even start to cover this and get you back to where you were the moment before this happened, but it's a start to getting this behind you and they'll deal with most of the work. Good luck.

  33. Thanks bbb1 for posting this information which makes it a little easier to understand how we arrived at this current situation.

  34. and you obviously do not know the laws or driving guidelines,

    Did you know fixies are illegal to ride in Seattle?
    Section 11.44.200 BRAKES. Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

    Since fixies have no brakes, and if you try to say that doing a skid-stop is a brake, notice they say wheelS, not wheel.

  35. wrong, you automobile insurance PIP will not cover an auto accident your vehicle is not involved in. You need to first take care of your immediate injuries, then get a personal injury lawyer.

  36. Hi Kris,
    I hope you heal quickly and you are able to get your bike on the road again.
    Also I hope that Caitlin is OK.
    You do not need to defend yourself here as I am sure there are many people on the site that have experienced similar situations. I for one completely understand and have total empathy for you.
    I wish you a speedy recovery and I hope you are back on your bike in the near future.
    Ride safe and enjoy.

  37. Actually, SPG explained it the way the insurance company explained it to me. It made no sense that my auto PIP would come in to play at all, but apparently so. And since it's a no-fault coverage–and since I despise my auto insurance company–I didn't care much.

    Also, when I was doored, I didn't bother with an attorney. Perhaps if my injuries were worse, I'd have considered it, but the driver's insurance company was came forward and took responsibility without issue. They paid for all of my medical expenses, bought me a new bike, reimbursed me for my time off and some extra to keep me happyish.

    The whole process is such a pain, especially if you need physical therapy, etc. However, I still count my blessings that the accident wasn't worse and Kris you should do the same. Many cyclists who are 'doored' are shoved into traffic and aren't so lucky.

    I also have a friend who is in the ICU at Harborview after a bike accident (not doored) on Friday. The extent of his injuries are still unknown:

    Drive/Ride SAFELY

  38. It is not just cyclists. I don't know how many times I've had to swerve to avoid people opening their car doors everywhere in this city. Doesn't anybody look before they open their doors?

  39. As a former receptionist – whenever I was confronted with an angry caller I happily transferred them to the person in charge of whatever they were angry about while staying cheerful. Annoyingly cheerful.

  40. I am very aware of how things could have gone differently… for potential outcomes of the given situation, I don't think I could have fared better – had the car behind us been following closer or attempting to pass, it is likely this would have been an obituary rather than a news article.

    Best of luck to your friend for a speedy recovery too!

Login or register (optional)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *