Is dooring something you worry about often as a cyclist? Running into a suddenly opened car door while riding happens more often than you may think. Although it may seem unlikely, cyclists should worry about this. Especially cyclists who ride on city streets. In many areas, the law requires people to check for approaching cyclists before they open their door. But dooring still happens, and can cause serious injury. Hitting the door is bad enough, but swerving to avoid it may be even worse.
Dooring Stories, Facts, and Stats
- A man was riding his bike in a London bike lane last year when a car door opened in front of him. He was hit by a taxi driver after swerving to avoid hitting the door. Luckily, the taxi driver was able to stop before running him over. The driver later tweeted that the cyclist was fine and wanted to take him out to dinner. Unfortunately though, not all dooring stories have a happy ending.
- In 2002, a doctoral student in Massachusetts was killed when someone opened their door into the lane she was cycling in. She swerved and lost control of her bike, ending up under the wheels of a passing transit bus. She died instantly.
- Utah law prohibits people from opening car doors into roads carrying moving traffic, unless they can do it safely. It is also illegal to leave a door open into the road for extended periods of time.
- It is difficult to find specific statistics on dooring accidents. However, one study in Chicago showed that between January and August of 2012, there were 132 dooring accidents.
- An observation study in New York on misuse of bike lanes counted 77 dooring citations in three days.
How Cyclists Can Avoid Dooring
- Give cars their space: ride at least a door’s length away if you can.
- Watch carefully to see if drivers or passengers may be exiting their car.
- Slow down when riding next to a parked car; it can be hard to tell whether there’s someone inside.
- Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing, or have reflective details on your helmet or bike so that drivers can see you in the dark.
- This is much easier said than done — but if you must make a split-second decision, remember that hitting the door may be safer than trying to swerve out of its way.
How Drivers Can Avoid Dooring
- Always check behind you to make sure there are no cyclists (or cars!) coming when you open a car door. Don’t just use your mirror — turn around and check your blind spot.
- Remember that cyclists move surprisingly fast and can legally ride between cars and moving traffic.
- Be alert and aware — never open your door without checking, even if you’re in a rush.
- Watch this great video on driving safely with cyclists:
As cyclists, we understand what a challenge it can be to ride safely. If you’ve been in a dooring accident or have any questions about cycling laws, contact us for a free consultation.
Photo via Google Images
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