Southern California’s favorable climate makes it a perfect place to live for cycling enthusiasts. However, its congested roadways and sometimes poorly designed bike lanes also make it quite dangerous. “Dooring” accidents, which occur when an individual in a car opens his or her door and strikes a cyclist passing by, have become common across the region and contribute to a high number of bicycle-vehicle collisions.
According to CyclingSavvy.org, dooring incidents now account for between 12% and 27% of all car-on-bike collisions that occur in urban areas. These numbers show that dooring is now among the leading causes of bike crashes. But exactly what factors expose today’s cyclists to injuries caused by dooring?
A lack of buffers between bike lanes and parking spots
In many cities, roadways have bike lanes that are only 5 feet wide and parking areas that are only 7 feet wide. The lack of buffer space between bicycles and vehicles exposes cyclists to a greater risk of suffering a dooring accident. Studies have shown that when cyclists have an additional 3 feet of space between bike lanes and parked cars, they almost always ride at a safe distance that protects them against dooring.
Bike lanes placed within 12 feet of the curb
Studies show that dooring risks also increase when bike lanes exist within 12 feet of the curb. The Transportation Research Board currently recommends allowing for bike lanes within 12 feet of the curb. However, research shows that cyclists need at least 12 feet between them and the curb to safely avoid a car’s door zone.
No matter the safety measures put into place, all cyclists should always be on the lookout for inattentive drivers exciting their parked vehicles near a bike lane.