The possibility of being hit by a moving vehicle is a serious concern for bicyclists in New York, but parked cars also pose a threat. The term “dooring" refers to when a bicyclist is hit by a parked car’s open door. According to Bicycling.com, this particular type of accident injures and even kills hundreds of bicyclists a year.
What leads to dooring accidents?
In many parts of New York, there are no designated bike lanes. This means that bicyclists generally ride as far to the right as possible to avoid car traffic in the road. Even in areas where bike lanes exist, they are typically placed as far to the right as possible.
The bicyclist is therefore vulnerable to the opening doors of parked cars. When drivers in parked cars fail to check their side mirror before opening the door, catastrophic injuries can happen.
In fact, New York law specifically addresses the issue of dooring. As we point out in our Bicycle Accident Overview, New York traffic law states that “no person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of the vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. What this means is that drivers can be held liable for injuries to bicyclists as a result of them opening their vehicle door."
While you’re riding, if you see someone in a parked car ahead of you, it’s a good idea to slow down and keep an eye on that person’s activity.
If possible, move slightly away from the parked car as you approach. Be careful, though, as there may be traffic to your left if you’re in a right-side bike lane.
It’s also possible to avoid the reach of opening car doors by riding in the car lane rather than the bike lane.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a dooring accident, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your options. You may be entitled to significant compensation from the driver’s insurance company.