If it has never happened to you before, a “dooring” accident might almost sound comical. Someone is riding their bicycle in the bike lane next to a row of parked cars, trucks and SUVs. Suddenly, a driver’s side door swings open just a few feet ahead. With virtually no time to react, the rider crashes into the door.
But real life is not a slapstick comedy. Dooring accidents like the scenario above happen all too often in Virginia, leaving riders seriously injured.
How common are dooring collisions?
While many veteran riders have stories of getting doored or of some close calls, hard statistics on how often these types of bicycle accidents happen are hard to find. Police departments tend not to specifically mention dooring as the cause of the crash in their reports. But in 2011, Chicago police noted that cyclists crashing into a vehicle door that had opened into their path accounted for nearly 20 percent of bike accident injuries that year. A study in Victoria, Australia, found that dooring accidents caused about eight percent of serious bicycle accident injuries there from 2006 to 2010.
Two possible solutions
These crashes happen most often because a driver or passenger opens their door without first looking to see if a cyclist is approaching from behind them. The same early warning technology in some modern vehicles that alerts drivers to objects in their blind spots could someday alert people to approaching bicycles when the vehicle is parked.
Until then, the Dutch Reach is a low-tech solution. The Dutch Reach is simply opening a vehicle’s door with the opposite hand, not the hand closest to the door. This forces the driver or passenger to rotate their heads and torsos toward the window so that they will see if a bike is coming. Making this a widespread habit could prevent numerous dooring accidents every year in Virginia.
Financial compensation for bike accidents
Unfortunately, cyclists cannot count on people inside motor vehicles to be careful when opening their doors. After suffering serious injuries in a collision caused by careless dooring, a rider can seek compensation for their injuries.