Someone unexpectedly opening a car door right in front of you can have disastrous consequences.
TIPS TO AVOIDING BEING DOORED
The tips for avoiding this type of crash are the same for avoiding crashes in general – ride sensibly and conservatively to avoid dangerous or risky situations in the first place.
- Ride in a consistent, straight line
- Don’t weave in and out of car spaces and traffic
- Don’t ride fast into narrow spaces where you have little room for error
- Don’t ride between two vehicles
- Ride out from the door zone – a car door is about 1.5m wide
- If you don’t have enough room to ride outside the door zone, slow down to a speed where you could stop in time
LOOK AHEAD: THE DANGER IS IN FRONT OF YOU
- Scan the interiors of parked vehicles for someone about to exit. If there is someone there, get ready to stop, or look for a space to swerve out of the way.
- Be especially wary when passing cars to the left or kerb side when they have stopped at intersections, as passengers may be about to exit them. (you can legally overtake vehicles in the left hand side)
- Look for brake or park lights that are lit up (an indication that they’ve just pulled up)
- At night, look out for the interior light going on or off
- Look ahead for drivers parking their cars
It’s wise to select a route that other cyclists frequently use and one that avoids narrow roads with fast moving traffic and/or parked cars. Look for wide roads with slower moving traffic (preferably with with separated bike lanes).
ASSUME THEY HAVENT SEEN YOU
- Ride conservatively and give yourself time and room to avoid a crash or sticky situation
- Wear bright clothes and flashing lights but remember that most drivers are looking primarily for cars
- Assume they have not seen you until you have made eye contact, and even then, be wary
RIDE ACCORDING TO THE CONDITIONS
- If it’s wet or dark, slow down. If it’s fine and bright, don’t go too fast.
“I knew they were going to do it…”
So what do you do if you see a car door about to be opened in front of you?
- Ring your bell. Sometimes this is enough to stop someone opening a door further (Bells are a requirement as part of the road rules)
- If you are really close, try a loud ‘Hey!’, but only as a last resort
- Failing that, just slow down and stop if necessary
The last point sounds simple, but so few people seem prepared to do it. Stop, smile at the driver. In most cases they have not realised what they have done and are apologetic. If they have not realised then politely point it out to them. Don’t start an argument – experience suggests that people rarely win arguments about another person’s driving skills. Just point out their mistake and ride on when the opportunity arises.
IF YOU HAVE A CRASH
- Try to stay calm and keep your wits about you
- Write down the particulars of the crash as soon as possible
- Record the name and license number of other parties, registration number of the vehicle, names and details of witness and whatever you can remember of the details of the crash. Sign and date the record. Get it witnessed, as it may be useful later if there is a dispute over the incident.
- Report the crash to the police
- Contact BWA. Our members are covered for bike rider insurance which can costs associated with damage to another person’s property, or injuries you may sustain (conditions apply).
DOORING AND THE ROAD RULES
Various sections of the Australian Road Rules (February 2012) cover issues relating to bicycles and the opening of vehicle doors.
s269 Opening doors and getting out of a vehicle etc
(3) A person must not cause a hazard to any person or vehicle by opening a door of a vehicle, leaving a door of a vehicle open, or getting off, or out of, a vehicle.
s236 Pedestrians not to cause a traffic hazard or obstruction
(1) A pedestrian must not cause a traffic hazard by moving into the path of a driver (or rider).
(2) A pedestrian must not unreasonably obstruct the path of any driver (or rider).
s141 No overtaking etc to the left of a vehicle
(1) A rider of a bicycle may overtake a vehicle to the left of the vehicle (including where there is no bike lane)
(2) The rider of a bicycle must not ride past, or overtake, to the left of a vehicle that is turning left and is giving a left change of direction signal.
s287 Duties of a driver involved in a crash
(1) A driver involved in a crash must comply with this rule.
(2) The driver must stop at the scene of the crash and give the driver’s required particulars, within the required time and, if practicable, at the scene of the crash, to:
(a) any other driver (or that driver’s representative)involved in the crash; and
(b) any other person involved in the crash who is injured, or the person’s representative; and
(c) the owner of any property (including any vehicle) damaged in the crash (or the owner’s representative), unless, in the case of damage to a vehicle, the particulars are given to the driver of the vehicle (or the driver’s representative).
If you are in a vehicle collision, whether you are at fault or not, be sure to report the crash to the police, even if you can walk away unharmed. You can’t be sure if you won’t need to claim and by reporting collisions the prevalence of dooring is recorded and can be addressed.
A full copy of the Australian Road Rules (February 2012) can be downloaded HERE.