When a driver swings open a car door without first properly checking for cyclists, serious bodily injury and even death can result for the bicyclist or motorcyclist. Riding within three feet of a car door can result in getting “doored”. Bicycle lanes create buffer zones between bicyclists and car doors, whereas streets without proper bicycle lanes often force bicycles to travel in the “door zone.” Not all cities create bike lanes equally, and many bike lanes still do not allow for a buffer zone between car doors and unsuspecting cyclists.
It is healthy for cyclists to try to maintain a four to five foot distance from opening car doors. This is not always possible, mostly due to traffic and road hazards. Further, most state, city, and municipal codes require cyclists and slower vehicles to stay as far right of traffic as possible. Cities that allow full use of the road usually carve out the exception of staying furthest right of the lane when there are dangers or hazards to avoid. Car doors can constitute a hazard. Most urban cyclists are familiar with this problem, but it is not always clear what a rider can do when in this situation. Where bikes are allowed full use of traffic lanes, moving closer to the center of the lane and away from cars parked on the shoulder can create a buffer zone for bicyclists. Cars will not always allow cyclists to utilize the full lane, and road rage can become an issue. Always do whatever you can to avoid angry drivers, including stopping and contacting the police with identifying information about any vehicle operated by aggressive drivers or drivers with road rage.
Most deaths from dooring crashes are the result of the cyclist being thrown into oncoming traffic by the door. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed by dooring, contact an experienced bike law attorney at Shefman Law aka Cyclistlaw.