Dooring Accidents: A Danger to Cyclists

Getting doored, or struck by a driver’s car door while on a bicycle, is a fear of every cyclist – especially those who bike in busy metropolitan areas such as Las Vegas. Despite efforts to build better bicycle lanes to prevent dooring, this is something that still injures and kills bikers every year in Nevada.

What Is a Dooring Accident?

A dooring accident occurs when a motor vehicle driver opens the door of his or her parked car directly into the path of an oncoming cyclist, causing the cyclist to collide with the open door. These accidents often cause bikers to be ejected from their bikes, after which they may enter the roadway and be at risk of getting run over by other vehicles.

Dooring accidents can cause significant and catastrophic injuries, including:

Dooring accident injuries can arise from the initial contact between the cyclist and the car door, which is a thin piece of metal that can act almost like a sword when it strikes the biker’s body at a high speed, resulting in slice, laceration and amputation injuries. Additional injuries can occur from blunt-force trauma against the door as well as from being thrown from the bike.

City Infrastructure Contributes to Dooring Accidents

In major cities such as Las Vegas, road engineers attempt to protect vulnerable road users such as bikers with designated bicycle lanes, wide curb lanes, shared-use paths and bicycle-compatible streets. Unfortunately, unsafe city infrastructures and poorly designed bike lanes can end up contributing to dooring disasters instead. 

A dangerously designed or defective bike lane configuration can force cyclists to ride in the “door zone” – the two-foot or three-foot corridor next to a row of parked cars. This can put them at a high risk of being doored. A cyclist’s only other option may be taking up a full lane, which can be daunting for bikers who do not wish to annoy surrounding drivers.

How to Prevent Dooring Accidents (For Motorists and Cyclists)

It is mainly a driver’s responsibility to prevent dooring accidents. Motor vehicle drivers have a duty of care to protect cyclists in Las Vegas by looking for them before opening a car door – especially when parked adjacent to a bicycle lane. Drivers can prevent dooring with the “Dutch Reach,” which is a method of opening the door that uses the hand farthest from the door. This requires the driver to turn his or her shoulder and look at the road before opening the door.

Bicyclists in Las Vegas can avoid dooring accidents by paying attention to their surroundings, especially when driving near parked cars. Cyclists should constantly scan the road ahead for signs of this hazard. This may include brake lights, a car that just parked, the actions of a person sitting in the driver’s seat and car door shadows on the road.

If a biker does not feel safe, he or she should take up the full driving lane instead of biking close to parked cars, even if surrounding drivers seem impatient. It is more important for a cyclist to stay safe from dooring accidents than for annoyed drivers to get to their destinations faster. If you are involved in a dooring accident in Las Vegas, contact the Las Vegas bicycle accident attorneys at Koch & Brim, LLP for a free consultation.