Getting “doored” is every cyclist’s nightmare: No matter how alert you are, it happens suddenly, seemingly at random, and can carry potentially deadly consequences. Though New York State law
and New York City law
put the burden of avoiding dooring incidents on motor vehicle occupants, cyclists still need to use an abundance of caution to account for worst-case scenarios. Read on for Bike New York Education Director Rich Conroy’s road-tested tips on how to avoid dooring every single time.
If you’re a cyclist: Always operate under the assumption that motorists won’t check for cyclists or use the Dutch Reach. Whenever possible, make sure to ride 4-5 feet away from parked or stopped vehicles. It’s impossible to check every vehicle for passengers who might open a door, but riding further out means a door that swings open suddenly is less likely to hit you. Otherwise, you’ll be at risk for being struck by a door or find yourself needing to swerve, increasing the likelihood of collisions with passing vehicles. Cyclists who worry about moving into or riding too far out in a traffic lane should keep in mind that motorists coming up from behind the cyclist are far more likely to see them and be aware of their presence than someone getting out of a vehicle.
If you’re a motorist or passenger:
Commit yourself to adopting the habit of using the Dutch Reach
to open your vehicle door, and make your vehicle a “Dutch Reach-only” environment for passengers. By using the hand further from the door, you’ll be forced to turn and look before you open. And since every mirror has blindspots, always give a glance out the window before exiting to ensure you haven’t missed an approaching cyclist.
Want to learn more about how to ride your bike safely and confidently on city streets? Attend one of our free Street Skills 301
or 302 Classes
. See you on the road!