Apologies to regular subscribers, who will have heard this before:
I was cycling down Guilford Street this afternoon when a car door opened into me. I’d read somewhere that you should cycle one metre away from parked cars to avoid this sort of situation, and this was pretty much what i was doing.
ev_, it sounds as if you're already doing a lot of things right. However, don't adopt inflexible rules about your own positioning. You should cycle relative to traffic, not to measurements. Yes, keep well away from the door zone. This is called 'taking the primary position' and is sometimes in the centre of a lane (if it's narrow) and sometimes just to the right to where the left tyre tracks of most cars would be. However, the distance you keep is not intended to keep you 100% safe--don't relinquish your alertness. It is meant to give you extra room if you need to take evasive action. There is no need to take the primary position at all times. You will develop good judgement of when to take it and when not.
However, I don't know if I was just inside 1 metre or the car had a long door (it was one of those estate cars) but one metre really isn't enough. Thankfully the door only clipped my pedal and I landed on my hands and feet.
It sounds as if you were just a little--not much--too fast to react for your ability to take evasive action. You will improve.
The driver was quick to get out and was very apologetic, saying that he was simply not paying attention and was even a cyclist himself. I was a bit shocked but as there was no damage to my bike and the driver seemed to be having some sort of emotional breakdown I decided to leave as I didn't really have anything to say to him.
It may well have happened to him in the cyclist's position. It would be wise to at least exchange details with a sympathetic driver, as you may discover later that previously unnoticed damage was done. (Doesn't sound like it in this case.)
I now have a new rule. Cycle 1.5 metres away from parked cars, never closer.
As I said above, that's too rigid.
I’ve been cycling in London for a couple of years now and have been incident free until three weeks ago. I was on my way to work when a pedestrian ran out into the road, there was just no time to stop and I went straight into him. I flew over the handlebars my chin slammed into his head and I landed on my arm.
I’m not the most experienced of cyclists but I'm not a total noob either and try to ride safely, never compromising my personal space nor that of other peoples and communicating my intentions at all times. What made this encounter strange though was that I wasn't cycling near the pavement, I was cycling on the white line between the two lanes - a whole lane away from the pavement. This guy ran out so far that there was nothing I could do, he looked at the last moment but it was just too late. I wasn't even cycling fast!
You're actually less visible to pedestrians if you are in the offside lane. If at all possible, it is more likely that you would have been seen in the primary position in the nearside lane.
The bike was fine (piece of shit anyway) but I had 5 stitches in my chin and my upper arm was badly bruised and useless for a couple of days. I took a week off from work in total. I've thought about compensation but the guy was badly hurt, in addition to the injury sustained during the actual collision he was knocked backwards and banged the back of his head on the ground. The actual incident itself is a bit of a blur but I do remember immediately after it happened I rolled off my side and shouted over 'are you ok?', he screamed 'no, I cant move'.
Interestingly, you did what most car drivers do immediately after they hit a cyclist or pedestrian.
I'm really grateful to roxy's accident thread as I'm prepared legally but I'm not going down the compensation route. I guess the story is that you can't really ever have enough space in london. Today 1 metre wasn't enough but three weeks ago i had a whole lanes worth and that still wasn't enough.
You sound as if you're already well aware, but just in case, do try cycle training to improve your skills. Call CTUK on 7231 6005 to find out what's available in the local authority areas where you live, work, or study. It's free.
but 1.5 meters away from a parked car is the middle of the road which is more dangerous.
The middle of the lane is not dangerous!
provenrad is right. The key fear that many cyclists have is that someone in a car will use it to hit them from behind. This fear is unjustified. Drivers know that it's a lot more trouble for them than it's worth if they hit you. What they will try to do, if you don't position yourself well, is to attempt to overtake you incautiously. When you reach a point where they can safely pass, you let them pass. They will understand.