The Doors!

You’ve just parked, turned off your car, and given a sigh of relief that you’re no longer stuck in traffic. You reach for your things, kick open your door and CRASH!

The Doors

Okay, so you didn’t “door” a cyclist. But you very well could have!  Just because you stopped driving doesn’t mean you can stop looking. Dooring is one of the most common crashes for cyclists. And in many areas (including Massachusetts) the driver is at fault for opening their door in the path of oncoming traffic! So remember:

The Doors


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  • dr2chase December 13, 2012   Reply →

    Regarding insults to drivers, we have a part-vs-whole problem. Most drivers are pretty good; I once stuck a rear-facing camera on my bicycle for my commute home, and was pleasantly surprised to discover that in the nastiest section of my then-commute (multi-lane, nominal 35mph limit, so often faster) something like 3/4 of the drivers would move over into the other lane well before reaching me — so soon that I was not aware of their lane change otherwise.

    Then, there was the yahoo who insisted on trying to pass me on the left while I was passing a turning car on the left, and beeped at me for having the audacity to be in his way (and this, leading to the section of road where there is usually a traffic jam, so it’s not as if he was going to get anywhere sooner by passing me. Maybe he really wanted to play leapfrog). It’s the yahoos who will do you in, and since you don’t know which driver is a yahoo and which is not, you have to behave as if they all are.

    And by another measure, which is how many drivers are truly careful (i.e., obeying all the laws to the last detail, including not even 1mph of speeding in residential areas, never “squeezing by” a cyclist, signaling all turns) most drivers are a little bit “stupid”.

    The larger stupid is that the national standards and priorities for road design put the free flow of traffic AHEAD of cyclist safety. A road in our neighborhood will be rebuilt in the next year or so. I didn’t pay any attention to this until the 75% design phase, when it had full-width car lanes, space allocated for trees in the median, and sub-5-foot “bike” lanes in some places. And the “professionals” who had chosen to prioritize auto flow over bike safety told us “don’t recommend changes in car lane width, because we won’t”. Thanks, road design professionals, great job!!

  • anon December 14, 2012   Reply →

    You’d think after that commercial where a lady opens a door and it gets cut off by a speeding car, people would be a little more considerate of opening their doors blindly in traffic.

    Drivers do look behind them when they open the door. They’re just looking for cars that might kill them when they step out.

  • Pingback: Bikeyface » The Doors! « In The Spin December 15, 2012   Reply →
  • polaris December 15, 2012   Reply →

    Amazing comic, as always! That’s a really interesting new suggestion about using the right hand to open doors, since this automatically involves turning to take a look. I commute by bike most of the time, but drive on occasion, so I’m going to try to implement this.

  • Ethan Fleming December 17, 2012   Reply →

    I worry about doors all the time. I forget what section it is but somewhere in MA state law it says people are required to check the mirror before openning their door when they are parralell parked. I have been doored 5 times. 4 of them were by taxi cabs and 1 I caught on helmet cam.

    There is a reason why I am scared to hell of taxi cabs

    • Lonnie L. Jones December 17, 2012  

      Heck, I’m scared of taxis when I’m in my Jeep!

    • Bob S December 17, 2012  

      Ethan – If you’ve been doored repeatedly and you worry about doors all the time, that’s a good sign it’s time to change the way you ride. The whole point of this cartoon is to not put yourself in harm’s way. You’re apparently riding too far right, too close to the parked cars and stopped taxi cabs. Ride farther left and dooring will no longer be an issue, because the doors simply won’t be able to reach you. That vigilance you’re spending on the parked cars can be more usefully spent watching for other traffic events. As an added bonus, by riding farther left you have better visibility and you’re more visible to potential pullouts and left crosses. Even better, a more leftward line – controlling the travel lane – forestalls both too-close in-lane passes and right hooks. As a side benefit, since you won’t be constantly worried about being doored and buzzed and right-hooked, you’ll find you enjoy your ride a lot more, and you’ll arrive at your destination with a big smile on your face!

  • Rich M December 18, 2012   Reply →

    In England last week, a horrible precedent was set regarding dooring. Sam Harding (25) died under the wheels of a close following bus after having a door, with home tinted windows so dark they allowed only 17% of normal light and visibility. The driver was cleared of Manslaughter and I understand that no action has been taken over the bus driver by his employers despite being so close he could neither stop in time nor avoid running Sam over.

    Incidentally on the same day in a different court, a truck driver who ran over and permanently seriously injured Mary Bowers, despite her being visible to him for 10+ seconds beforehand and waiting in an advanced bike box, was given a £2700 fine and 8 month ban for ‘careless driving’. It wasn’t deemed dangerous because she didn’t die! However over here dangerous driving is a paltry sentence and used for killing by car, disgusting when compared to the manslaughter charge that usually follows the e.g. drunken 1 punch fight that sees the victim hit their head and die.

    Mary B link

  • Ethan Fleming December 18, 2012   Reply →

    Bob S
    If what you say is true then the bike lanes are too close to the doors of the parked cars. That is why ALL drivers have to check behind them before they open their door.

    • reflector December 20, 2012  

      I wouldn’t count on what “ALL drivers have to do”. Count on what you can do: improve your bike-handling and people-behavior-predicting skills, sharpen your reflex, and, you know, just ride smarter than the drivers around you.

  • Adam J January 10, 2013   Reply →

    Make it a habit to open the door with the opposite-side hand! Genius!

    Local traffic safety campaigners need to promote this (until of course proper safe bicycle paths are built).

  • Aaron February 13, 2013   Reply →

    When I first saw that picture I thought that it was a dinosaur instead of a kangaroo. Great post though – I have never been “doored” before but I am on the look out so that never happens to me.

    -Aaron, recently watched leadville bike race

  • John Brooking February 18, 2013   Reply →

    Bikeyface, if you don’t mind, I have incorporated your bottom picture into a presentation I have for Drivers Education students, on driving around cyclists. I did not modify it in any way, including retaining the copyright notice. If that’s not okay, please let me know and I’ll remove it or whatever else you want me to do.

    By the way, I’m surprised no one has posted this video:

    • dr2chase February 20, 2013  

      A second piece of advice for your students, if it’s okay to offer such, is to unlatch the door first, i.e., open a half-inch or so, before you get around to opening it.

      In addition, on my car, which is (a) red and (b) old and ugly, I ran a strip of (red) reflective tape just on the inside of the door, so that as soon as it is open just a little, it is reflecting headlights (bicycle or car) at night. I wouldn’t expect most car drivers to do this, but they should. For a white car, you might use white.

  • rollinger June 10, 2013   Reply →

    Every day i ride on a long road where the bikelane is exactly the doorzone. The next lane is for streettrain. It is impossible to be outside the door zone. Every morning i wait for the crash.

  • Regis Chapman May 17, 2015   Reply →

    In Italy, in order to pass your driver’s test, you have to open the driver’s side door with your right hand, because it makes you turn and look for cyclists. I learned this when I raced my bike in Italy. It’s awesome. In France, it is against the law (it’s in the French Constitution, actually) that it is illegal to impede the running of the Tour de France. Awesome facts from awesome countries with way more of a bike culture.

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