Bicycling & The Law: 10 Tips for Cyclists: Don’t Get “Doored”


10 Tips for Cyclists: Don't Get Doored

By Richard Duquette, Esq, Law Firm of Richard Duquette

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Getting “doored”–or crashing into the carelessly opened door of a parked vehicle while on your bike–is no fun, but it is common. Although bicyclists try hard to avoid this dangerous occurrence, it is in fact one of the leading causes of bicyclist injuries.

Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash

Here are 10 tips to both avoid getting “doored” and to protect your rights if an unfortunate incident occurs:

  1. Choose a safe, wide route, not one that is car-lined. Prevention is the best cure, always.
  2. Slow down and pay attention. If you can’t avoid a car-lined route, slow down to improve your braking ability. Pay attention to the parked cars so you can brake in time for opening doors.
    Choose a route with a painted bike lane. This isn’t always possible, but it is ideal.
  3. Keep your hands on the brake levers, not the bars. This will help you stop more quickly. Also, avoid using the tri-bars when riding next to cars. This riding position makes it harder to stop quickly.
  4. If in a group, ride single file. When you ride 2 or 3 abreast and you are in a position next to the parked cars you will have no option to maneuver around opening doors.
  5. Ride at least four feet from car doors. In California, you must ride as far to the right side of the roadway as practicable, but this doesn’t mean riding right next to a car door. So, ride four feet away from car doors–they swing out further than you think. (Although this is often cold comfort, the California Vehicle Code 22517 states that a car door can’t be opened unless safe to do so.)
  6. Look ahead for movement inside the car’s rear windows. If you see movement, ride away from the car door or be prepared to brake in time, because many motorists fling open their doors without looking.
  7. Notice if the rear brake light is illuminated, as it will tell you if the car is occupied, and running. You could get “doored” if the door is suddenly opened, or even be in for a collision if the car unexpectedly pulls out, so be on alert.
  8. If you are following the law and get “doored”, get pictures! Whether it is you or your cycling partners, take pictures of the crash site and the location of the vehicles. If possible, include pictures of how far out the door was opened. Your cell phone camera is great for this.

If you’re “doored”, get the driver on record if they admit opening the door or pulling out. This helps your insurance claim. If, by opening the door, the driver creates a situation in which it is impossible for you to do anything other than slam into the door or put yourself in certain danger, the insurance company can’t argue that you don’t have a claim.

Enjoy More Articles and Podcasts By Richard Duquette, Esq, Law Firm of Richard Duquette

About  the Law Firm of Richard L. Duquette

The Law Firm of Richard Duquette has recovered millions in damages for injured bicyclists since 1983. Attorney Duquette is an experienced bicyclist himself and has dedicated his practice to helping this community. He is experienced in all types of cases involving bicycle crashes, injuries, and other legal troubles.

Mr. Duquette serves a wide variety of bicyclists. Whether you prefer road cycling, mountain biking, track riding, Randonneuring, E-Bicycles, Handcycles, Century Rides, Triathlons, Duathlons, or Criterium, Mr. Duquette knows how to best serve your legal needs regardless of the type of bicyclist you are.

Mr. Duquette is an expert at maximizing, proving, and recovering damages. 

For more information please visit the Law Firm of Richard Duquette.

The information in this article is for general information purposes only. The focus of this article is on California Law. You should contact an attorney in your state for case-specific advice, as details of the law and procedural requirements vary from state to state. Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship; and the receipt, reading, listening, or viewing of this content shall not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article shall be construed as a warrant, promise, or guarantee about the outcome of your case or any other matter. This information may contain personal impressions or statements of opinion on a subject that do not apply in your case. Further, statements of law reflect the current state of the law at the time of writing and/or recording, and may not reflect subsequent changes in the law.