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How to defend against ”dooring accidents” as a bicyclist

Dooring accidents happen when a passenger or driver in a parked automobile opens his or her door without looking to see if the way is clear. If a bicyclist happens to be passing at an inopportune moment, opening a door like this could result in catastrophic and fatal injuries. Regardless of whether the door simply clips the cyclist or causes the cyclist to ride directly into it, you can imagine how terrible an incident like this can be.

Automobile drivers and passengers may be financially liable in the wake of a dooring accident tragedy, but it's certainly preferred to avoid these accidents in the first place. Here's what safety-conscious bicyclists can do to prevent getting doored:

  • Give parked cars plenty of clearance: If you're riding along the side of the road where parked vehicles are present, you should always put three to four feet of space between yourself and the parked vehicles. If it's impossible to leave this kind of room, then you should get off your bike and walk until the way is clear, or enter the roadway and ride in traffic as if you're a car. Both of these options are better than putting your life at risk.
  • Scan for heads: Cyclists should also scan ahead to see if there are any occupants in the parked vehicles along the road. If a head can be seen, that person might soon be getting out of the vehicle without warning, so make sure you give that vehicle a lot of space. Even if you can't see any heads, be careful because a short person might not be visible on the other side of the seat.

Sometimes there's nothing a bicyclist can do to prevent a dooring bicycle accident. If you were hurt like this, make sure you understand your options with regard to pursuing financial restitution in court.

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