The temperatures are warming up in the Chicago suburbs. Most bicycle riders have finished tuning up their rides and begun taking to the streets and trails.
Riders already know they are at risk of a serious bicycle accident every time they are near motor traffic. But even when the driver of a car, truck or SUV is parked on the side of the road, he or she can still pose a threat to you simply by opening their door in your face.
Trying to shield yourself from a dooring crash
It’s called “dooring”: the almost inevitable collision that occurs when someone in a parked vehicle opens their door into the street just as a cyclist is approaching. Even an alert rider may have no way of knowing that a driver’s-side door is about to be thrown into their path until it is too late. Still, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting seriously hurt in a dooring crash. Here are some tips:
- Whenever possible, ride out of range of parked vehicles’ doors. This is usually the left edge of the bike lane — when there are bike lanes.
- If you must ride within door range, be extra cautious. Keep an eye out for people inside the upcoming parked vehicles and be alert for the sound of a door opening. Shout if you observe a door opening in front of you.
- Wear bright clothing with reflective tape and use a flashing headlight. This is vital at night but can also help drivers and passengers notice you in daylight.
Ultimately, it is the vehicle’s occupants’ responsibility to check to make sure it is safe before they open their doors. Someone who opens their door without first looking out for bikes, and causes a bike accident as a result, may be liable for the rider’s injuries.