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Doorings: What They Are, and How to Avoid Them

man getting knocked off bike with car door

Vehicle drivers and cyclists need to share the road. It’s legal for bikes to be out on city streets, just like with cars. The law considers a cyclist a vehicle, so car operators need to respect them, as they do other drivers.

However, because bikes don’t offer the same protection that cars do, both cyclists and drivers need to watch out for each other. Both need to conduct themselves responsibly to avoid any injuries, property damage, etc.

In this article, we will talk about a specific car-and-bike accident type and what both cyclists and drivers can do to avoid it.

What Are Doorings?

You might never have heard the term “dooring” before. It’s what society came up with to describe a situation where:

  • A passenger or driver opens a vehicle door without checking to see if someone is coming
  • A cyclist smashes into the open car door

Maybe you’ve seen this happen before in real life. Perhaps you’ve seen it happen in a movie or a TV show. On TV or in the movies, directors often make it seem comedic.

In real life, it’s not so funny. It’s often dangerous, or even deadly. That’s why, for cyclists, part of their safety routine has to be looking out for opening car doors.

Why Are Doorings Dangerous?

If a cyclist is not paying close attention, or the individual opening the vehicle door isn’t, the bike can slam into the door going pretty fast. The cyclist might:

  • Fly over the handlebars
  • Strike their head on the ground

Doorings often cause head injuries. The cyclist flies forward over the handlebars, and there’s usually a hard sidewalk or blacktop waiting for them. Even if they’re wearing a helmet, they can easily injure their head this way.

Doorings often cause concussions. Doctors call concussions TBIs, or traumatic brain injuries. Some are more serious than others, but there is never any good brain trauma.

If a cyclist smashes into a door, even if they avoid hitting their head, they can break a bone or multiple bones very easily. They might throw their arms up to try and stop their fall, breaking a wrist. It’s also possible they might break an arm or leg.

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What Can Drivers Do to Avoid Doorings?

The reality is that drivers or vehicle passengers usually cause doorings. They’re the ones who have to watch out for cyclists. The best thing they can do is look in the vehicle’s side mirrors before opening their doors. These can reveal if a bike is coming their way, either in the street or on the sidewalk.

Drivers and passengers should even check their side mirrors before opening their doors if the vehicle is sitting in a parking lot. Sometimes cyclists ride through parking lots, and doorings can occur there as well.

If a passenger is getting out of a vehicle’s backseat, they might not be able to see the side mirrors. If they can’t, they need to turn their head around to see if a bike is approaching before they open the door.

What Can Cyclists Do to Avoid Doorings?

As for cyclists, part of bicycle safety has to be watching out for individuals in cars. If a cyclist is passing a parked car, they need to try and notice if someone is sitting in the driver’s seat, the passenger’s seat, or the backseat. If they see that someone is in the car, they should know that individual might open their door at any moment.

The cyclist can give the car a wide berth. If they peddle past and come very close to it, they make a dooring event more likely.

Both cyclists and drivers, not to mention other vehicle passengers, can help avoid these events. In a movie, when someone opens a car door suddenly and a bike smacks into it, you might chuckle.

In reality, when that happens, you’re going to have a smashed bike and a damaged car door. The cyclist will have to repair their bike, and the driver will have to fix their door. Some doors get so badly damaged when this happens that they can’t even close properly afterward.

Biking is great exercise, as well as a transportation method. With Covid-19 closing so many gyms, more people are biking than ever these days.

That’s excellent, but it does make doorings more common. It’s up to cyclists, vehicle drivers, and passengers to watch out for one another so that injuries and car or bike damage don’t occur.

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