“It takes communication, compassion and negotiation to get results, not a bulldog in the courtroom. Nice guys don’t always finish last.”

– Scott Blumen

What bicyclists and drivers need to know about “dooring”

On Behalf of | Apr 23, 2024 | Personal Injury

One of the more serious risks to bicyclists posed by drivers isn’t when their vehicle is moving. It’s when they’re parked. Specifically, it’s when a driver opens the door of a parked car to get out without looking, and a bicyclist slams into it. It’s commonly referred to as “dooring.”

The California Vehicle Code even provides guidance for motorists to avoid dooring. It says that they should not open a door towards the street “unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of…traffic.”

How does this happen?

Unfortunately, people tend to forget that. They may take care, especially if they park on the side of a busy street, to watch out for traffic. However, while they’re looking for cars, they may neglect to notice an oncoming bicyclist. Bicyclists, unfortunately, sometimes aren’t aware that there’s even someone in a parked car until they suddenly open the door, and it’s too late to safely avoid hitting it.

It’s hard to know how often dooring incidents occur. That’s because, fortunately, most of them don’t result in serious injury. However, that’s always the case. Sometimes, they can be fatal. Cyclists can be thrown into traffic.

One woman who lost her husband is seeking to prevent dooring

That’s what happened to a film producer last year in the Los Angeles area. He hit an open door of a car and then was killed when he was run over by a vehicle. His widow has taken up the cause of educating drivers about the dangers of not watching out for cyclists as they open their door into traffic. 

Besides looking in their rear view mirror, one way to avoid it is by using the “Dutch Reach.” That’s where the driver uses the hand farthest from the door to open it, which forces them to turn and look toward what’s coming up behind them.

Drivers typically don’t face criminal charges for dooring someone unless they do it intentionally. However, they can face liability. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or worse, it’s wise to learn more about how to hold the at-fault driver liable.