I’ve seen short mentions of cyclist collisions into open car doors in police blotters and traffic columns, but I don’t believe I’ve read any involved treatment of doorings in general media before this article in the New York Times in their City Room blog.
“Dooring” or “the door prize” is what cyclists call having a door thrust open directly in front of them. Opening a door in front of moving traffic — including bicycles — is a traffic violation in every US state.
It’s good to see this explained to a general audience. Several comments in the NYT article are along the lines of “Duh, everybody knows you shouldn’t open your door in traffic,” but you’d be surprised. Too many people believe the cyclists is at fault when they’re doored. A Seattle bus driver reports at his blog that there are many instances of a city bus catching a door as well, with the door opener often blaming the bus driver!
In some states there’s a legal gray area — cyclists riding to the right of stopped traffic may not be legally protected. Imagine this scenario: you’re biking in a bike lane past congested traffic. A passenger in one of those stopped cars opens the passenger side door and *blammo* you’ve been doored! After a couple of incidents like this, California lawmakers changed the state vehicle code to allow cyclists to legally pass on the right.
Cyclists riding alongside stopped cars pretty quickly learn that doors can be a hazard. To avoid that hazard, ride outside of the door zone.