Bike Michiana

resources, news, observations and ideas about bicycling in the Michiana area

Door zone safety

Posted by Paul Taylor on August 25, 2009

Do you know anyone who has been ‘doored’? By that, I mean riding alongside parked cars, and having a driver or passenger open their door into the path of the bicyclist. It’s not uncommon, although I personally know of only one such crash. The experienced adult cyclist suffered a broken arm.

There have been cases where the cyclist has fallen under the wheels of an overtaking vehicle, resulting in serious injury or death. Here’s what the League of American Bicyclists has to say.


4 Responses to “Door zone safety”

  1. Adam Bee said

    Whoa! That is really an amazing video–I am 100% convinced. I had no idea the door zone was so huge– and I never thought about 2-door cars having longer doors.

    From what I’ve read, the worst way that doors actually kill riders is that they instinctively swerve into traffic and get crushed by a garbage truck. There’s just no way to decide to take the hit of the door instead, it’s just a natural, uncontrollable reaction.

    This certainly has huge implications for bike lane design as well. At the least it’s an argument for lanes being on the curb side of parked cars rather than on the traffic side.

    Thanks for the great video, Paul, and thanks to the LAB too! I hope they get more videos like this up. It could be a huge way to reach those who don’t have access to great League-certified instructors like our own Danny Graber.

  2. Henry Scott said

    I’ve been “doored” once, and it was not a pleasant experience, to say the least.

    It was when I was a graduate student in Santa Cruz and doing a lot of biking. I knew to watch for opening doors, but one atypically cold and rainy morning I was trying to make good time to campus and, apparently, suspended my cautious approach to riding along parked cars. I was just hammering away and only watching the road immediately in front of me.

    I recall being briefly aware of the door opening in front of me — just long enough to scream, “oh $%&@!” The next thing I knew I was lying in the middle of the road, yet fortunately, did not get hit by a moving vehicle.

    It took me what seemed liked several minutes to get up and, foolishly, I insisted that I was fine and got back on the bike. By the time I reached campus I was starting to hurt, and by the end of the day, I was extremely stiff and sore.

    I didn’t get checked out for a couple of weeks, but ultimately saw my doctor to see why my chest continued to ache. It turned out that I had broken a rib, in addition to lots of upper body bruising, but nothing serious. At the time of the accident I was more concerned about my bike (which was fine)!

    This clearly could have been a lot worse, and I’ve been much more CONSISTENTLY careful ever since 😉

  3. Paul Taylor said

    Thanks for the story Henry. I guess.

    Now I know of two people, two crashes, and two broken bones: a rib and an arm.

  4. The “Door Zone” was the hot topic at the LCI class in Bloomington over the weekend. The group riding was done outside of the bike lanes because of this. If I did much City riding I might consider making a bumper out of a short piece of railroad tie.

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