The word “dooring” is relatively new to the English language. You may not have heard about it before, but once you hear the explanation, you should understand exactly what a person means when they say it.
Dooring means that someone in a car opens their door, usually accidentally, but occasionally on purpose, when someone on a bike rides past. This causes the bike and rider to slam into the open car door if they cannot stop in time. This can potentially damage the car door, but probably the bike and the biker will get the worse end of such an encounter.
You may wonder how often dooring happens and what you can do both as someone in a car or as a bike rider to avoid it. We’ll get into all of that in detail right now.
How Often Does This Type of Thing Occur?
There are no stats that state definitely how often dooring happens, but you have to think that in a major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, it probably happens at least a couple of times every day. There are more bike lanes than ever now, as motorists and bike riders try to coexist with one another. Chicago has added over 100 bike lane miles in recent years.
Bikes are so much smaller and slower than cars, so the two trying to coexist in close proximity to one another often creates problems. Still, there is no reason why people should stop biking in major cities. It’s a much cheaper way for them to get to work versus driving or taking public transportation, and it is excellent exercise for them too.
Car drivers might begrudge bike riders the use of city streets, though. Some cars will go out of their way to act aggressively when they see a bike ahead of them because they feel like that bike should not be on the road. In areas where there are no bike lanes, though, what choice does a rider have?
How Can You Behave While Bike Riding to Avoid Dooring?
There is no formula for avoiding dooring a cyclist. If you’re going to ride your bike in a major city or even in a smaller one where there are cars around you, you must take on an inherent risk element.
Most of the cars around you don’t want to hit you intentionally. They don’t want you running into their doors, either, since that can damage the door just as much as it can your body and the bike you’re riding.
If you’re going to ride your bike near cars, whether you’re in a bike lane or on the sidewalk, you need to try and be aware of anyone who is in a vehicle when you approach it. However, if you’re riding at a fairly fast pace, you might not register a person in a car before they fling the door open, potentially causing you to crash.
All you can do is try to watch out for those people, and stay away from cars whenever possible, even parked ones. You never know which vehicle will have a person in it who’s about to open their door and is oblivious to you approaching on your bike.
What About People in Cars?
It’s the same for people in cars. You could argue that the responsibility is more on the person in the vehicle, whether they are in the back seat, on the driver’s side, or the passenger’s side. You must try to look out the window or use your mirrors to watch for approaching cyclists.
Remember that if someone is in the bike lane, they are in their legal right to use it. If you fling a door open carelessly and hit them, and they injure themselves, they can sue you. They might win, as the judge may rule that you should have checked to see if anyone was coming before you opened your door.
Major cities are not really built for both cyclists and cars. The two can often coexist, but it seems like dooring is always going to happen, at least occasionally. All it requires is one distracted person in a car or a cyclist riding past who’s thinking about other things.
The best you can do is try to think about dooring as a possibility before you leave the house, whether you’re driving or riding your bike. Your fellow citizens will thank you for watching out for them.
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