Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Door Zone Danger: Wider Than You Think

How much space do you allow to avoid getting doored? A new vid posted by CommuteOrlando Blog, "Avoiding the Door Zone," reveals how cyclists are in danger of being doored even when they're at the traffic side of a bike lane. COB suggests riding outside the bike lane to get booth physically and psychologically far enough from the opening door. You don't want to get hit and you don't want to reflex-swerve into traffic when the door swings your way. That advice might work in Orlando but what about many width-starved San Francisco bike lanes?

Most San Francisco streets have little room to spare, at least the way they're apportioned now. The bike lanes are usually narrow: one door swing out and the full lane is often blocked. Biking west on Fell Street from the Wiggle, what are you going to do? Choose the visible hazard (zipping, if not speeding, vehicles) or the unseen menace (the passenger or parker who doesn't look before opening the car door)? Avoid Fell altogether, the unitiated might suggest although the few Fell and Oak Street blocks between Scott and Baker are esential links between the Wiggle and the Panhandle for easties and westies. Same situation elsewhere.

What can happen to cyclists in the door zone? Another vid here, "The Swinging Door," from COB. It's not pretty.

On NOPA streets with bike lanes, the exception to the door zone hazard is Baker. But wait, beware the cars backing out into the lane from head-in parking.

Door zone danger: THIS is why cyclists often take the full lane when there aren't striped bike lanes, as they are allowed to do by state law. (They should keep to the right if the lane is wide enough and there are no obstacles to safe travel). Thanks to Wikipedia for the photos (no time here to stage my own); also see the Wiki's entry on door zones.

1 comment:

  1. I got doored at the corner of Fell and Divisadero and both my neck and bike were damaged. The man gave me his insurance info and then the insurance denied my claim on the basis that the door was open before I ran into it. Ummm...yeah, it was open Seconds over I smacked into it without any room to swerve. Is there some sort of law that prevents people from opening their door into the line of traffic? I am taking the case to Small Claims court. Any advice? thanks