Safety: The Door Prize
A motorist opens the driver door right in front of you. You run into the door if you can’t stop in time, or you swerve into traffic. This kind of crash is more common than you might think.
How to avoid getting car-doored:
- Stay attentive and scan ahead watching for occupants of parked cars. When you are unable to make a determination (e.g., due to glare on the windows, tinted windows, decorative louvers on the rear window, etc.), it is safer to assume that someone could exit the parked vehicle, so ride to the left of parked cars with enough space to accommodate a car door. The law allows cyclists to take up to a full lane if necessary to avoid hazards like car doors.
- Ride to the left! Maintain your distance from parked cars. Ride far enough to the left that you won’t run into any door that’s opened unexpectedly. You may be wary about riding so far into the lane that cars can’t pass you easily. But you’re more likely to get doored by a parked car if you ride too closely, than you are to get hit from behind by a car with a driver who can see you more clearly.
- Consider using a rearview mirror. A properly adjusted mirror is a great safety accessory. It provides the essential, instantaneous scanning of the rear view before evasive action. You wouldn’t want to swerve into the traffic lane to avoid a car door if you’re not certain the lane is clear.
According to Oregon law, when this type of accident occurs the motorist commits an offense – unsafe opening of a vehicle door – and would receive a Class D traffic violation (See Oregon Revised Statutes 811.490.) Remember, however, the law may be on your side, but it is better to avoid the experience in the first place.
The Safety Committee
Bluejay, Michael. (n.d.). How to Not Get hit by Cars. BicycleSafe.com. Retrieved from http://bicyclesafe.com/#doorprize.
Raymond, Thomas F. (December 1, 2014). Car-Doored AGAIN? The Law Is on Your Side! tcnf.legal.com. Retrieved from https://www.tcnf.legal/car-doored-again/.