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The Best Ideas to Avoid ‘Dooring’ Crashes with Bicyclists

Changing how you open the car door could save a bicyclist’s life. 

Rideshare provider Uber is urging passengers to use a technique practiced in other countries to check for bike-riders before opening doors. 

A door-opening pause can avoid springing an obstacle into the path of a bicyclist, who a second earlier was facing an open lane only to crash into the fixed wall of an open car door.

These crashes are known as “dooring" crashes.

Dutch Reach

Uber recommends that passengers use the Dutch Reach,” in which they open the nearest car door with their far hand. This makes the passenger swivel and look at the rear-view mirror and to the back of the vehicle, potentially spotting oncoming bicycles and vehicles.

The “Dutch Reach” originated in The Netherlands, which has a low bike fatality rate, according to VentureBeat.

The swivel-to-be-safe method of opening a car door has spread to other countries and to driver’s education courses in Massachusetts, Illinois and other states. The New York Times called it a “No-Tech Way To Save Bicyclists’ Lives.”

Uber and Lyft remind riders

An official said Uber would launch a campaign with partners like PeopleForBikes and advocacy groups to teach riders ways to prevent “doorings.” 

The plan includes Uber using publicly available maps in a smartphone app — Bike Lane Alert — to show locations of bike lanes and shared roads in cities and towns. 

Uber users in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and Toronto will get push notifications on their smartphones stating that their upcoming drop-off is near a bike lane or along a bike route and reminding them to look for cyclists before opening their car door.

Lyft, another rideshare provider, also announced a safety effort that features dooring prevention. The effort includes urging its riders to use the Dutch Reach and urging drivers to remind passengers to use the swivel door-opening method. 

The company also shares safety tips on the Lyft Driver Hub and will be distributing window decals reminding everyone to look out for bikes and scooters. 

Efforts to Stop When Cyclists Get Doored

The prevalence of dooring crashes was unclear, though The League of American Bicyclists said such crashes “are likely one of the more common bicyclist-vehicle collision types, particularly in urban areas.”

Between 2010-2012, data from the City of Chicago showed dooring crashes accounted for 7.3 percent - 19.7 percent of bicycle crashes. The Boston Cyclist Safety Report published in 2013 found that dooring crashes accounted for 7 percent - 13 percent of all bicycle crashes in Boston between 2009-2012.

Forty-one states have dooring laws. The states that don't are Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

In West Lafayette, Indiana, officials were considering an ordinance under which opening a car door into the path of a cyclist could prompt a fine of up to $1,000, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Contact David J. Glatthorn Personal Injury Law today for help with dooring crashes and for help if you've been injured in a car, truck or motorcycle collision.

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Since 1980, Attorney David Glatthorn has been serving the residents of West Palm Beach. He works in many areas of personal injury law, including car accidents, slip and fall injuries, workplace injuries and many others. Attorney Glatthorn is known for his dedication and experience. If you were injured due to another person's negligence, call David Glatthorn Law today.

David J. Glatthorn, P.A.
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