Cyclist faces long recovery

18:14, Dec 04 2012

We've all done it - parked the car, scrambled to gather a few things and then opened the door without looking back.

Yes, drivers get rushed and distracted but that's no comfort for an approaching cyclist who has to swerve to avoid the door or get hit by it.

Marcia Chang-Hong was knocked off her bike in central Blenheim in June and is on crutches after surgery to repair her knee.

"I was riding my bike into town to go to the library. I'd slowed right down as I approached the roundabout outside McKendry Motors.

"Then someone getting out of their car just opened their car door in front of me . . . I couldn't stop, it was too sudden and too quick.

"I ended up lying on my back in the middle of the road.


"I was lucky there wasn't a car right behind me, because I could have easily been run over, or if there was a car on the outside of me I could have fallen in front of them. It was pure luck.

A road maintenance crew stopped and helped Marcia up off the road. It was too painful to stand up so they sat her on the wall at Seymour Square until the ambulance came.

"The driver was really concerned too. I don't think he'd turned to look before opening the car door. He felt really bad and kept apologising.

"He's texted me a few times to see how things are going."

Marcia could tell right away from the sharp pain that something had happened to her knee.

"The cruciate ligament snapped - it wasn't holding the knee-cap together."

The X-ray showed no broken bones but she was on crutches for 10 days and it took a couple of months for the swelling to ease.

Five months after the accident Marcia is on crutches again after surgery to graft a piece of her hamstring to replace the cruciate ligament.

It will take up to a year before her leg is functioning normally and being a chef and caterer Marcia needs to spend a lot of time on her feet.

"Being knocked off my bike has been a major inconvenience," she says.

"For work, this is my busiest time so I've lost out on income. The surgeon says I probably won't be able to work until January and even then I'll have to be very careful not to do too much.

"Since the accident I haven't been able to do my regular sports. I used to go up the Wither Hills two or three times a week. And I've also stopped swimming."

Marcia says that as a cyclist she was always aware of the risks, especially in town where drivers are more distracted.

"I think opening a car door is quite a common accident for cyclists, and people can get killed, like the man in Dunedin recently. Drivers just have to be more aware of cycles when they're driving and look behind before opening the car door."

Cyclists are also advised to stay about one metre away from parked cars and keep an eye out for drivers or passengers who may be getting out at any moment.

The Marlborough District Council wants to hear from anyone who has been in a cycle crash to build up a picture of danger spots.

This will help get funding to improve safety on the roads.


Drivers – check the road behind you before opening your car door

Cyclists – look for drivers in parked cars and give them a wide berth. Ride beyond the reach of a parked car door (one metre)

Had a near-miss on your bike? Ring the council's cycle hotline 0800 292 532 or fill in the cycle crash report available at council, bike shops and the library. The cycle crash report is also online

The Marlborough Express