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Watch for Bicycles - Avoiding “Dooring” Accidents

“Dooring” refers to an accident in which a bicyclist is traveling in a bike lane or far-right traffic lane, and the driver or passenger of a parked vehicle opens their door, causing the cyclist to crash into it. In some cases, the cyclist will swerve to avoid the door and fall into traffic, or their collision with the door throws them into traffic. When a cyclist is doored they can be seriously injured and even killed. 

Unfortunately, in urban settings these types of accidents are not uncommon. Most cities and municipalities have laws that prohibit bicyclists from using sidewalks, and even if a bike lane is present, often no buffer exists between cyclists and parked cars. Yet at the same time, most states also have laws similar to Wisconsin’s state statute 346.94(20)(a) that states, “no person may open any door of a motor vehicle located on a highway without first taking due precaution to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of traffic or endanger any other person or vehicle.”

How to avoid “dooring” accidents:

  • What cyclists can do: (1) Avoid taxis: Assume at all times their doors may be about to open. (2) Scan the cars ahead: Look for brake lights, passengers in side mirrors or windows, or any sign someone may exit the vehicle. (3) Know your rights: Cyclists are legally allowed to occupy an entire lane of traffic. If you feel confident enough, you can stay away from parked cars all together.
  • What drivers can do: When parking, always remember to open the driver side doors with your right hand instead of your left. This forces you to turn your body at an angle and allows you to check for oncoming bicycles before you open the door.
  • What the community can do: A study by the Transportation Research Board found that narrower bike lanes with a painted buffer helps remind cyclists to stay at least three feet from parked cars.

What cyclists should do if “doored”:

  1. Get medical help right away if you’re injured.
  2. Obtain the driver’s information. 
  3. Take photos at the scene (of any accident). 
  4. Do not sign any releases or speak to the driver’s insurance company after the crash.
  5. Call an experienced bicycle accident attorney like those at Hupy and Abraham. 
  6. Consider additional insurance. Experts say that bicyclists who also have car insurance should carry as much uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage as possible in case an uninsured or underinsured driver injures them.

Unfortunately, sometimes there is no way to avoid being involved in a bicycle accident no matter how quickly you react or what precautions you take. But if you or a loved one has been the victim of a dooring accident, the experienced bicycle accident attorneys at Hupy and Abraham are here to help. For a free consultation, please contact us at 800-800-5678 or you can start a live chat with us right now at