I was bebopping along California Street in Mountain View, California near the Wal-Mart and Target stores last Friday evening when a door popped open immediately in front of me. If I was riding inside the “door zone,” I would have been nailed. As it was, the driver and I startled each other as I whizzed by. I shouted helpful instructional hints to the dooring driver that I’m sure sound completely incomprehensible to him. The Google Maps Streetview image of this location just happens to show a cyclist riding inside the doorzone.
Researchers at BMW and the Technical University of Munich are developing a “smart door” that can sense obstructions and provide tactile feedback by making the door more difficult to open. Right now they’re just focusing on objects like lamp posts (which kind of nimrod opens a door into a lamp post?), but they plan efforts so the door can “sense the complete workspace of the door and detect people walking by the car or cycling towards it,” according to this article in New Scientist.