Road riding survival tips, no. 2: The Door Prize You DON’T Want!

Avoidance instructional video
Toronto - Door prize campaign
Poster from Toronto’s 2005 Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of dooring.  Click graphic for more info. on the campaign.

When riding in the road you’ll sometimes find yourself riding past parked cars (thankfully most of the on-street car parking on campus is now gone, but now and then you’ll pass a delivery vehicle or someone dropping off a friend, etc), and sometimes you’ll feel you need to ride close to them to avoid getting in the way of or slowing down motor vehicle traffic.  Well, there’s a very dangerous area near parked cars called the “Door zone” which is where many bicyclists have been seriously hurt or killed, either by the door itself or by getting knocked off their bikes and sent flying out into the travel lane.

Watch this new video that captures such a moment by a taxi’s dash-cam; fortunately for this bicyclist the taxi was able to stop before causing the bicyclist serious injury:

London taxi driver captures the moment he almost ran over a cyclist
London taxi driver captures the moment he almost ran over a cyclist who was trying to avoid a car door (click to view on Facebook; courtesy The Telegraph)

The door zone extends out a lot further than you might think and, unfortunately, a lot further than most road agencies even realize, so sometimes bike lanes will even be marked way too close to parked cars encouraging riding in the “door zone”.

Avoidance instructional video
Parking lot demonstration of why we avoid the door zone on a bicycle

This short video (courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists) is an excellent instructional which clearly shows where you should ride.

So, next time you’re going to pass a parked vehicle be sure you get over far enough in advance (after shoulder-checking for a gap in traffic) to avoid the “Door prize you don’t want”.

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Author: Tim Potter

Sustainable Transportation Manager, MSU Bikes Service Center; member of the All University Traffic & Transportation Committee (http://auttc.msu.edu); founding member of MSU Bike Advisory Committee (https://msubikes.wordpress.com/volunteer-donate/msu-bac/); advocate for local & regional non-motorized transportation issues thru the Tri-Co. Bike Assn. Advocacy Committee (http://groups.google.com/group/tcatc); board member of the Ride of Silence (http://www.rideofsilence.org); year-round bicyclist of all sorts; photographer; soccer player; father of 3; married 30 yrs. to Hiromi, Japanese national (daughter of former Natl. Keirin Champion, Seiichi Nishiji); Christ follower.

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