Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to avoid a dooring

The Age newspaper in Melbourne has recently run a series of articles on doorings: accidents that occur when parked motorists inadvertently open their doors in the path of cyclists. It gets people hurt in two ways - from an impact with the door or they crash into or are hit by other traffic when they swerve to avoid the sudden obstacle in their path. After two articles on a young man killed in a dooring incident, the paper also ran a story about a rider who was injured. Finally The Age's motoring section called for stickers to be placed on rear vision mirrors to alert drivers to the danger. It's nice the paper is looking out for cyclists but in my opinion this campaign has missed the point. One hundred per cent of dooring incidents can be avoided if cyclists take greater care and responsibility for their own safety.

Dooring is a well-known hazard for cyclists, it has been for years. It's also an easy one to avoid and here's how:

  • Never, ever, ride in the door zone: the space in which an opening door would hit you. In practical terms this is about a metre or slightly more. A metre and a half and you're even safer. 
  • When riding along a line of parked cars, keep an eye out ahead for signs of occupants about to exit. Look at the rear vision mirror, look for a head in the driver's seat, brake lights going off, for a door slightly cracked open. Pay particular attention to cars that have just pulled into a space. 
  • Hold a steady and predictable line, do not weave into spaces between blocs of parked cars. Suddenly appearing from a gap is another good way to get hit. 
  • And if your journey regularly takes you along a route which forces you to ride alongside long lines of parked cars, particularly if there are other hazards like fast moving traffic or tram tracks, give serious consideration to finding another route without these hazards. 
I have a feeling doorings are on the rise in Melbourne because the current bike boom has lured lots more novice riders onto the streets. That's something to be celebrated but better education is needed of some of the avoidable risks, such as dooring. It would be nice if people didn't fling their doors open without looking, but there's plenty of other things motorists should be doing to make us all safer on the roads and somehow I don't think we're ever going to get to them all. Cyclists have to most to gain by taking responsibility for their own safety, and now you know how.

166km so far this year.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Great post mate. Just wish every rider new or experieced had a read of this as a heads up or a timely remider.
Still, the stickers wouldn't hurt, even if only to get folk thinking bike when they spot it whether parking or driving. And good to see The Age is payimg us a bit of attention (and not bagging us for the sound our cleats make when we walk into a coffee shop).