Getting doored & handlebar shapes a New York rite of passage
So Zoe and I were having a lazy Saturday after having some Astoria coal fired thin crust pizza at a nice Italian place on Broadway and 29th called “Sac’s Pizza Place” (it was quite good) anyhow, we were biking back home down Broadway to Vernon Blvd. and there was a line of traffic probably heading to Cost Co. and just before making it to the light at the intersection WHAM! I was sprawled out on the ground, me and my ’72 Gitane. A nice older couple pulled over to offer assistance and add themselves as witnesses. It was cold out and I was a bit worried about going into shock if I had broken anything.
We weren’t riding very fast, and the guy in his BMW 528xi didn’t bother to check his mirror. He clipped my right hand and handlebar and I managed to roll my left shoulder into the ground. After the nice elderly couple gave me a piece of paper and pen, they gave me their name and number, I wrote down the BMW’s plate, went up to talk to him, asked him if he had insurance, he did. Turns out he owned a Limo/Car Service place across the street. He was just going to work. I said, “Look it’s cold and I don’t think my hand is broken. I don’t want to file a police accident report here, I just want your name and number in case anything else is up. ” So that was it. Zoe and I walked halfway home, then rode a short section on 21st St. We went to Lennox Hill Hospital to have the hand and wrist X-rayed. Thankfully nothing appears to be broken. I’ve iced it for the last few hours, kept it elevated and have a bandage on it. Good times.
Scotty, a guy who used to be messenger in the 80s and who I’ve worked on films with mentioned “getting doored” one day when he looked at my bike’s handlebars (which are chopped “preacher bars” like Soma Fab’s “Noah’s Arc Bar“) as they offer no hand protection. He said that he always preferred drop bars on a track bike, as they offer some protection. I thought about this, and figured that its better to have narrower bars than protection. Well, after hitting the edge of a car door today with my right hand – I amend my position – I’d rather have handlebars that offer protection.
Sadly, there just aren’t many that offer this. European style Trekking bars are good, but quite wide (usually 57cm end-to-end) and they require a longer higher stem. Also the fact is Trekking bars raise the dork quotient of your bike by about %1,000. Scott Components used to make a mountain bike handlebar that fits the bill called the Scott AT-4 Pro, it was a continuously curved mountain bar. Similarly, the shape I want is a curved flatbar (like my arc’ed preacher) that then curves back around the front in a U shape for each side, about 40 cm wide. The Scott AT-3’s did this to some extent but I think it’s important for the curves to come pretty far in so that they don’t get caught objects while riding. Anyhow, Rivendell and Velo-Orange don’t really sell bars for “aggressive urban” hand protection. I’m taking a metal shop class at Pratt these next 8 weeks, so hopefully I’ll be able to make something to rectify this situation, otherwise I should probably throw on some drop handlebars.