In the bicycle community, the accident that occurs when a vehicle door suddenly opens in the path of a bicycle rider is known as “dooring.” Some also use the phrase “door prize” in reference to these types of bicycle accidents. Such accidents occur in every large city, and New York is not immune.
A woman was convicted of driving on a suspended license by a jury in Brooklyn state Supreme Court. The prosecutor charged that she had driven from her home on Staten Island to Prospect Park after having had her license suspended. She opened the parked car door, hitting Jasmine Herron and throwing her into the path of an MTA bus. The driver was originally charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but the charge was later dismissed because her car was not moving – a requirement of the law.
How can urban bike riders protect themselves against dooring accidents? How can city drivers ensure that they do not “door” a bicyclist? Here are some tips:
Drivers: When you park on a city street, open the car door with your right hand. This will force you to turn around and you will be able to see whether a cyclist is in the path of your door.
Riders: If you see a car door opening ahead of you, look behind you before swerving into the next lane. Having a rear view mirror on your bike or helmet can make this much easier.
Riders: Ride in the traffic lane rather than the bike lane. This will distance you from the parked cars that could be sources of injury. The rule of thumb is that you should be at least five feet away from parked cars.
Riders: Have a headlight for riding at night so that drivers in parked cars can see you.
Source: New York Post, “Car door bus death gal guilty,” by William J. Gorta, Feb. 22, 2012.