Getting “doored” is one of the most common types of bicycle crashes. This crash occurs when a motorist opens his or her door directly into the path of a passing rider. As you can imagine, striking a door at full speed can result in serious injuries and – in the worst case scenario – drop you into oncoming or rear-coming traffic.
In the Netherlands, they’ve created something called the “Dutch Reach.” This is a method of opening a car door with your right hand so that you are forced to turn your entire body towards the door and look over your shoulder to see whether a cyclist – or motorcycle – is coming.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows the “Dutch reach.” And many others are distracted by their phones.
So how can you avoid getting doored?
The key is to stay out of the “door zone.” But just how wide is this zone? Many believe that riding 3-4 feet from parked cars is sufficient. As shown in the video below, the safer route is to stay at least 5-6 feet from parked cars (about 12.5-13 feet from the curb!)
If you can’t stay 5-6 feet away from parked cars, you should look far ahead and try to spot any occupants inside vehicles who might “door” you. In the winter-time or colder temperatures, you can keep a lookout for exhaust fumes. They will alert you to someone who has just parked and might be exiting the vehicle. It will also alert you to someone who may have just entered their vehicle and may be planning to pull suddenly out from a parked position.
Whose Fault is it when a Rider gets Doored?
The law in Pennsylvania states that no person may “open any door on a motor vehicle unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.” Also, no person shall leave a door open on a side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period-of-time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Based on the statute, if a motorist opens a car door into a cyclist’s path, an argument can be made that the motorist was negligent.
If you get doored while riding, you may be entitled to a recovery of medical expenses, wage loss, property damage, and pain, suffering, and inconvenience. Please contact me for a free initial consultation to discuss your case and explore your rights at (412) 227-9724.
Please be safe out there and thanks for reading.
Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire
Dolfi Law PC
1100 Washington Avenue, Suite 206, Carnegie, Pennsylvania 15106
Important notice:The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice. The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website. The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions. Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author. Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.