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The Risks of Dooring : How to Avoid and Stay safe

Cycling, the timeless art of human-powered locomotion, transcends mere physical activity to become a liberating experience that merges the beauty of nature with the power of human determination. It’s a symphony of spinning wheels, rhythmic breaths, and the open road stretching out before you, inviting both the novice and the seasoned rider to embark on a journey of exploration, self-discovery, and adventure. From leisurely rides through idyllic countryside lanes to adrenaline-pumping races against the wind, cycling has a unique ability to transport us, not just from one place to another, but to a state of mind where the boundaries of possibility seem to fade away.
Opting cycle over the modern modes of transport has a handful of benefits:

  • Muscle strength and joint flexibility
  • Weight management
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduces air pollution and congestion
  • Sustainable for commuting and short trips
  • Stress reduction
  • Anxiety and depression relief
  • Low ongoing expenses
  • Savings on fuel, public transportation, and parking
  • Connection with cycling communities
  • Making new friends who share your passion

Cycling danger, specifically the risk of being doored, is a significant concern for cyclists. Dooring happens when a driver or passenger opens a car door in the path of a cyclist, potentially leading to severe injuries or fatalities. This hazard is particularly dangerous due to its sudden and unexpected nature. To reduce the risk, cyclists should maintain a safe distance from parked cars and stay vigilant, while motorists can help by using the “Dutch Reach” technique to check for cyclists before opening car doors. Increased awareness and safe practices can make cycling safer and more appealing for everyone.

How to Avoid Dooring a Cyclist as a Driver

Check for Cyclists: Before opening the car door, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings. Take a moment to check your side-view and rear-view mirrors for any approaching cyclists. Cyclists can move quickly, especially in urban environments, and may be riding in a bike lane or alongside the parked cars. Always ensure your path is clear of any cyclists to avoid a collision.

Use the “Dutch Reach”: The “Dutch Reach” is a technique widely promoted in the Netherlands, where cycling is a popular mode of transportation. When exiting the vehicle on the side facing the road, use your far hand (the one farthest from the door) to open the door. This simple action forces your body to turn and naturally positions you to check for oncoming cyclists in your blind spot. It’s a practical and effective way to avoid dooring accidents.

Exit on the Curb Side: Whenever possible, choose to exit the vehicle on the side away from the road, which is the curb side. This is the safest option as it completely eliminates the risk of dooring a cyclist. It’s a straightforward but highly effective practice that can make a significant difference in road safety.

Remind Passengers: As a driver, you have the opportunity to educate and encourage safe practices among your passengers. Remind them to follow these safety measures and check for cyclists before opening their doors. Passengers can also play a crucial role in preventing dooring incidents.

Stay Cautious in Bike Lanes: Even when you’re driving within designated bike lanes, exercise caution when exiting the vehicle. Cyclists often rely on bike lanes for a safe and dedicated path, but they can still be vulnerable to dooring if drivers or passengers in parked cars do not check for their presence. Always check your mirrors and look for cyclists in the bike lane before opening your door.

Ways Cyclists can avoid being Doored

Stay Out of the “Door Zone”: The “door zone” is the area within about 3-4 feet of parked or stopped vehicles. To minimize the risk of being doored, cyclists should ride outside this zone. Maintain a safe distance from parked cars to allow room for doors to open without posing a threat to your path.

Ride Defensively: Always ride defensively and be aware of your surroundings. Anticipate the possibility of car doors opening and stay vigilant. Keep an eye on the traffic ahead of you and around you.

Use Bike Lanes Cautiously: While bike lanes offer designated space for cyclists, they can still be within the door zone. Be cautious in bike lanes, especially when approaching parked cars. Check for drivers or passengers in parked vehicles and be ready to apply your brakes if necessary.

Avoid Riding Too Fast in the “Safe Zone”: Even within the so-called “safe zone” (the area outside the door zone), you should not ride too fast. Stay at a speed that allows you to react quickly if a car door unexpectedly opens.

Signal Your Presence: Make your presence known to drivers and passengers by using a bell or vocalizing. Let them know you’re approaching, especially in situations where you suspect someone might be about to exit their vehicle.

Listen for Doors: Sometimes, you can hear the sound of a car door being opened before you see it. Be attentive to any unusual sounds coming from parked cars and be prepared to react.

Scan Parked Vehicles: Continuously scan parked vehicles for any occupants who might be getting in or out of their cars. Look for any signs of movement, such as someone in the driver’s seat adjusting their position.

Be Ready to Maneuver: Be prepared to quickly change your path if a door opens in your way. Practice your bike-handling skills so you can swerve or brake safely to avoid a collision.

Follow Traffic Rules: Obey traffic laws, signals, and signs. This not only ensures your own safety but also helps you predict and react to the actions of other road users, including motorists.

What does the Law Have to say

As per the law it is said that, “No person shall open a door on a motor vehicle unless it is reasonably safe to do so without interfering with the movement of other traffic, including bicyclists and pedestrians.” this is deemed as a punishable offense with a penalty of $100.

if due to dooring, a cyclist gets injured they can claim for their injuries depending on the severity of the case.

What to do if you have been Injured by Dooring?

Seek Immediate Medical Attention: Your health is paramount. If you’ve been injured, it’s crucial to call for an ambulance or have someone else do so. Even if your injuries seem minor, you should still get a medical evaluation because some injuries, like concussions or internal trauma, may not immediately present noticeable symptoms.

Document the Scene: If your condition allows and it’s safe, take photos of the accident scene. Capture images of your bicycle, the involved vehicle, and the surrounding area. Note the position of the car door, any road markings, and the general conditions (e.g., weather, time of day).

Exchange Information: Gather the driver’s contact information, including their name, phone number, and insurance details. Also, obtain contact information from any witnesses who may have seen the incident. Witnesses can provide valuable statements if legal or insurance claims arise.

File a Police Report: Reporting the incident to the local police or relevant authorities is essential. A police report can document the incident, contributing to the overall evidence and helping with insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.

Preserve Evidence: Keep any damaged clothing, equipment, or personal belongings as evidence. Do not repair or dispose of them until your case is resolved. These items may serve as physical proof of the severity of the incident and the damages incurred.

Seek Legal Advice: Consult with a qualified attorney experienced in bicycle accident cases. They can help you understand your legal rights, assess liability, and guide you through the legal process. An attorney can be invaluable in ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Contact Your Insurance Company: Notify your auto or health insurance company about the incident. Depending on your policy, you may be entitled to benefits or coverage that can help with medical expenses. Discuss the details of your situation with your insurance provider to understand the extent of your coverage.

Gather Medical Records: Collect all medical records, bills, and receipts related to your injuries and treatment. These documents serve as concrete evidence of the extent of your injuries and the associated medical expenses, which are vital for insurance claims and legal proceedings.

Follow Medical Advice: Adhering to your healthcare provider’s recommended treatment plan is crucial. Consistently attend medical appointments, undergo tests, and follow prescribed therapies. Compliance with medical advice not only supports your recovery but also strengthens your case for insurance claims or legal actions.

Notify the At-Fault Party’s Insurance: Reach out to the driver’s insurance company to report the incident. Be cautious when discussing the details of the accident with them, and consider consulting with your attorney before making any official statements. Insurance companies will often seek to minimize their liability, so having legal guidance is valuable.

Keep Records: Maintain a detailed record of your injuries, recovery progress, and any expenses related to the accident. This includes medical appointments, prescriptions, physical therapy, and any other costs incurred due to the incident. These records will serve as evidence of your damages for potential legal claims.

Consult with Your Attorney: Your attorney will be an essential guide in the process of seeking compensation for your injuries. They can help negotiate with insurance companies, gather necessary evidence, and pursue legal action if required. Their expertise will be invaluable in navigating the complex legal aspects of your case.

Get Legal Advice

Dooring incidents can have life-altering consequences, and it’s our mission to provide you with the guidance and support you need. At Phillips Law Office, we’re committed to safeguarding the rights and well-being of cyclists.

we’ve  outlined essential tips for both cyclists and drivers to avoid dooring accidents. We’ve also detailed the crucial steps to take if you’ve been injured in such an incident, from seeking medical attention to preserving evidence.

Together, we can educate, advocate, and ensure that dooring incidents become a thing of the past.


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