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Despite bike lanes and laws, bicycle "dooring" accidents on the rise

It's every bike rider's nightmare to win the door prize, a derogatory euphemism for getting "doored" by a driver who has parallel parked along a curb and opens the car door across the bike lane or into traffic.

Dooring injuries can be bad enough when the biker has no time to stop and slams into the car door or the driver stepping out of the car. They can be extremely serious and even fatal when the biker instinctively swerves out into traffic. Due to tensions that often arise between cyclists and drivers on our city streets, there have even been cases of the driver dooring bikers intentionally.

This blog post will cover some simple things bike riders and drivers can do to reduce dooring incidents.

First, let's look at what bicyclists are up against on city streets

According to the most recent statistics compiled by the New York City Department of Transportation, bicycle accidents are on the rise.

Here are some recent statistics:

  • Citywide, in bike accidents involving a motor vehicle, there were more than 4,400 injuries to cyclists
  • 14 bike riders died immediately as a result of the crash with the car, or died later as a result of fatal injuries
  • In bicycle accidents involving a pedestrian, 28 bikers were injured, with one rider fatality. (361 pedestrian injuries)
  • In crashes involving bicycles only, bikers suffered 435 injuries and one fatality. Some of these crashes, were the result of a car driver's actions, but did not involve contact with the motor vehicle.

While accident statistics aren't broken down into specific types of incidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 70 percent of bike crashes occur at intersections. The percentages for who caused of the accidents break out almost equally between the car driver and the biker.

Some things we can all do to reduce dooring accidents

According Bicycle Network, some common sense tips to reduce dooring accidents include:

  • When you are coming into a section of street with parallel parking allowed, slow down and expect the unexpected. If riding in a bike lane, be aware of the cars in the traffic lane next to and behind you.
  • Stopping abruptly is safer than swerving wildly out into traffic
  • As you approach a parked car, try to determine whether the driver is behind the wheel or a passenger is sitting on the driver's side. If so, expect the door to open and someone to step out.
  • Do not assume the driver or their passengers will think to check their side-view mirrors or look around to watch for your bike

Driver's, when parking or exiting your parked car...

  • It is second nature to carefully watch for pedestrians. Start taking that extra few seconds to watch for bicycles, too.
  • After parking, check your side-view mirror before opening the door to exit the vehicle. If a bike is approaching, warn any passengers in the back seat, as well. 
  • Make it a habit to open the door using your left hand on the door handle. This will force you to twist your body slightly backward, so you can pick up an approaching bicycle in your peripheral vision.
  • Open the door a few inches, check to check back along the road before opening it fully to exit your car

Drivers, when getting into a car...

  • Finish your text or phone call on the sidewalk and put your phone away before opening your car door. 
  • Don't make an oncoming bike swerve to avoid you or your car door as you are opening it. In some communities, causing a biker to swerve out of the designated bike lane is grounds for a traffic citation.

If you were injured while riding a bike, get legal representation

Working together to respect each other's space and rights, drivers and bikers can make room for each other on our city streets. If you were injured in a dooring accident, or any type of incident involving a negligent car driver in the greater New York City metro area, talk to one of our lawyers. 

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