Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dooring Without Jim Morrison

How has Madison survived since March 4th of 1856 (date of incorporation) without an ordinance punishing those self-centered dweebs who open the door of their car without looking to see if a bicyclist is approaching?

Well, that glaring deficiency in the city’s municipal code was corrected this week by the courageous action of the City Council, which passed an ordinance that says Mr. Police Officer can write you a hundred-dollar ticket if you don’t check to see if a bicyclist is coming before you exit your car.
The only alder who selfishly voted against the ordinance was Thuy Pham-Remmele, whose feelings about bicyclists have been well documented on YouTube and other national media.

Bear in mind that our state law says bicyclists have to ride at least three feet from a parked vehicle, so they don’t get “doored”, but the powerful bicycle lobby, led by the Lioness of the Regent Neighborhood, Robbie Webber, will make it their business to see that the state legislature sees the light and changes the law.

Let’s have a little session of moot court here, and see how the new law plays out on the streets:

Court Commissioner: You’re charged with failing to see if there was a bicyclist coming before you opened your door. How do you plead?

Defendant: Not guilty.

Court Commissioner: I have a report from Madison Police Officer Smith that you injured Bicyclist Jones by dooring him, and that you didn’t look.

Defendant: Officer Smith was not a witness. He was several blocks away at the time. He came when Bicyclist Jones called 9-1-1. I looked. I didn’t see Jones.

Assistant D-A: Bicyclist Jones says you just threw open the door of your car without looking.

Defendant: Not true. I looked.


Court Commissioner: Case dismissed.

Now, with this dooring ordinance under its belt, perhaps the City Council can move forward with ordinances to prevent fifth-graders from “pantsing” each other within the city limits; to prevent people from shoveling snow onto their neighbor’s yard (oh, wait…they passed that ordinance Tuesday night, too - no kidding); and maybe even an ordinance to get Facebook to go back to the old layout.


  1. Tim

    The intent of the ordinance isn't really to issue citations to drivers (although I suppose that could happen) but to end the issuance of citations to cyclists. Similar ordinances are already in place in other cities and as you note, the state legislature is considering a bill that would put this in place statewide. Because - sorry to have to break this to motorists - bicycles were here first, and they're here to stay.

    Love the Jim Morrison reference!

  2. Goodness, it could have been worse. I hope no one was breastfeeding in the vicinity.