Doorings – the term used by urban bicyclists to describe being hit by an opening car door – are frequent in dense urban areas such as New York and Chicago. In New York, of course, many of the cars are actually taxis – there are 13,000 yellow cabs in the city and countless more livery service vehicles. This makes it possible for the city to undertake a campaign to combat this type of bicycle accident – an effort that would be less likely to succeed were a higher proportion of cars in private hands.
The small TV monitors in all yellow cabs in New York will soon show a short warning about looking for cyclists in advance of opening the taxi door. A window sticker will also warn passengers to look before they open. The message on the TV piece will be, “Take out a friend. Take out a date. But don’t take out a cyclist.”
Dooring is illegal in Chicago, and that city tracks dooring accidents. For example, in 2010, there were 127 dooring accidents reported. These types of accidents made up 7.25 percent of all reported bicycle accidents. As bike ridership has increased, the number of dooring accidents has also grown. For example, in the following year, 2011, 344 dooring accidents were reported, constituting 19.7 percent of all bicycle accidents. To date in 2012, doorings in Chicago appear to be down, although complete data will not be available for several months.
Is the decline in Chicago numbers the result of better reporting? It’s not known. However, Chicago does not have an anti-dooring campaign such as New York’s LOOK! effort, making it unlikely that the reduction is the result of proactive efforts to reduce these types of bike accidents.
New York statistics are more difficult to come by, although a 2010 two-day study showed that a spot check of busy intersections with frequent bicycle riders revealed 77 dooring incidents, with 19 of these occurring at the corner of St. Mark’s Place and Second Avenue alone.
The reminders in New York cabs are part of the city’s LOOK! campaign, which includes stencilled warnings on the street at intersections that remind pedestrians to check oncoming traffic before attempting to cross the streets.
Source: GRID Chicago, “Doorings in Chicago and NYC are still a sorry state but one of them is doing something about it,” by Stephen Vance, Sep. 28, 2012.