Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hands On Learning

When you have kids that ride alone on major city streets you have to make sure they know what to do if something happens.  We have pointed out where all the bike shops along our regular routes are in case they have a flat or something.  We have taught them what to not lock up to (chain link fences are way easier to cut than the lock).  We have explained what to do if they get doored or hit by a car- call the police,  and let them deal with it.  I know enough about kids to know that if something happens they will not get the information right and they need calm, trained professionals to help.  We have taught them the information they should try to get, driver's licenses and insurance and plate numbers, but it takes a certain confidence and set of life skills to be able to do that when you have been knocked off your bike.

Maybe It Is

The other day, Cameron managed to get doored on Valencia Street.  There is a lot I could write about that, like how the bike lane on one of the most heavily used bike lanes in San Francisco is put 100% in the door zone,

Couple's Skate

or how often it is blocked by delivery trucks or taxis or construction vehicles....

The Sign Says There Is A Bike Lane

but I will just tell you what came about with Cameron's dooring.

He got none of the information right.  After getting knocked off his bicycle, the woman who threw her door into him was more concerned about getting her door fixed than in giving Cameron her license or insurance info.  She didn't even ask him if he was OK.  He was only minorly injured and his bike was largely alright but Cameron was shaken up enough to forget everything we had taught him over the years.  He didn't even take any pictures (obviously not my son).  He wrote down her license plate number before she took off.

Needless to say, he got the plate wrong which we learned when we went to report the incident.

Unable to file a report because of insufficient information the really helpful Officer at the station told Cameron what he should do in a situation like that- call 911 and tell them you are a minor and that you need help.  They will be out ASAP and they can take care of what needs to be done (of course, if you are 18 or over don't tell them you are a kid) because opening your door into moving traffic is a crime.  Best of all, we were given the MAGIC PHONE NUMBER FOR ALL SAN FRANCISCANS-

This number is the direct number to SF's 911 dispatch and can be used with a cell phone to bypass the cell phone 911 system which is run by the California Highway Patrol.  This allows you to speak  directly to SFPD without being patched through and gets you faster and more targeted response.  It also means you can be less specific about where you are and the person on the other end of the line can help figure it out (CHP dispatch in Vallejo can not do that as they are not in or from SF).

The phone numbers for-
Berkeley, CA 510-981-5911

Oakland, CA 510-777-3211

Daly City, CA 650-991-8119 (the DCPD asks that cell users call the non-emergency line until a system is created)
Go see if your city has a direct number to your local PD emergency dispatch!  Cameron and Úna both now have this number programmed into their phones as the first number in the directory.  Too bad it does not also magically impart the lesson that one should never ride in the door zone.


  1. those numbers are going in the phone NOW. :( sorry to hear about this cameron, but it is able to help out a bunch of other people (we hope).

    1. When you have been told and told to get out of the door zone and don't listen you are gonna get hit. Good thing the boy knows how to fall.

    2. also as i can recall from being a younger person, probably recovers easier from a fall as well than lil ol' me.

      i bet he'll remember the door zone going forward. too bad this had to happen tho.

  2. glad you are OK cameron, and thanks for the info Ade - something most of us don't think about until we find ourselves needing it.

  3. Very glad your son was okay. I just started commuting by bike and it's this kind of thing that riles me up and scares me to death. I'm super cautious but even for a 51 year-old adult (me) it can be difficult to react accordingly in a situation like that. Fortunately, I have similar numbers programmed into my phone (I don't live in SFC).

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    1. glad he's ok and I'm sorry to hear about this. when I rode with you and James years ago I remember you lectured me about getting out of the door zone. thanks for that tip! I've been telling Tyler to do the same whenever we go on bike rides.

  5. Thanks for this. Definitely lots of things to think about as our kids begin to venture out on their own.

  6. "the woman who threw her door into him was more concerned about getting her door fixed"

    Sad but so true. I've had a few friends who got doored and this was the response of the drivers involved. Even if they truly think they did nothing wrong, where's their common decency toward another human?

  7. Thanks for the story. I'm really sorry this happened to your son.

    One of the most despicable things about car culture is that blaming the victim seems to be the norm.

    I was rear-ended on my bike last year and the driver (who broke my ankle) jumped out of his car to tell me it was my fault for slowing down and yielding to merging traffic. A call to 911 brought the police, who promptly assigned fault to the driver.

  8. I'm glad Cameron is ok. It sucks how that went down but on the bright side we all learn best from experience. Hopefully the driver will be more careful in future and Cameron is better prepared now. Keep riding.