Door Zone reminder

Matthew @ Streetsblog SF asks how he should educate doorzone cyclists, and in the comments he got a couple of “Huh? Doorzone? You mean ride out with traffic?” type of responses.

As a reminder: The doorzone is the area next to the car that can injure or kill you if a car occupant opens the door just as you pass by. Door flings open in your path, and *boom* you’re toast.

The fix is simple: ride outside of the doorzone — three feet away or so away from the car. Where available, the bike lane stripe provides a handy gauge — ride to the left of the stripe, and you should be safe from open doors. When a door flings open, it really doesn’t matter.

A common complaint: “I’ll get hit from behind!” Well, no, actually you won’t. A bonus of riding out in the lane is you’re more visible to drivers, and people driving their cars won’t try to edge around you.

Here’s a video of my biking along El Camino Real in (I think) Mountain View, CA. I’m biking well to the left of parked cars. I bike like this all the time and I’ve yet to be hit from behind. Speed limit is 35 MPH here. You’ll see, incidentally, the silver car edging by me a little closely before I’ve moved out into the lane.

I already anticipate the main complaint about this video — “I don’t bike that fast!” — so when I have a chance I’ll shoot video of the same thing of me cycling slowly on an old heavy three speed.



 

In this second video, a door opens in front of me while cycling on Bryant Avenue in Palo Alto. This is the famed Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard. Sorry for the lousy video quality, but I think you can see what happens. Note also the stop-sign running scofflaw motorist.



8 Comments

  • November 17, 2010 - 12:30 am | Permalink

    you need to man up and take the lane :)

  • Andy
    November 17, 2010 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    We put in sharrows here, and its sad to see that nearly all cyclists still weave in and out of the parked cars. When I’m driving along that road occasionally, I just go 10mph and keep a very clear distance, yet they still ride all over the place. Sometimes when biking along that road, I’ll ride next to someone and chat up the sharrows, but they don’t seem to care very often.

  • danc
    November 24, 2010 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Fritz,

    Please don’t repeat the “ride outside of the doorzone — three feet away or so away ..”

    You got it right in the next sentence “ride to the left of the stripe, and you should be safe from open doors”; what happens if the bike lane is less than five feet wide?

    I’ll Mr. Preston show you why “five-to-six” feet is safer …

    YouTube – Avoiding the Door Zone –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TQ7aID1jHs [12 Aug 2009 02:29]

    YouTube – Avoiding the Door Zone –
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YixMuZpm88 [04 Sep 2009 04:21]

    Better question is why do cities put bike lanes in door zones?

    To Wuss912: best use of “political catchphrase” for “bicycle may use full lane”.

  • November 24, 2010 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    @Dan – You’re right — three feet isn’t quite far enough. I was just thinking in very rough figures (after all, who rides with a yard stick?) when I wrote this post because the entire point was to inform people that it’s okay to leave the bike lane when you need to for safety. My 2nd video especially demonstrates this — the driver of the white car opened her door in front of me, but it doesn’t matter at all because I’m X feet away from the door.

  • November 24, 2010 - 11:19 pm | Permalink

    @Dan – You’re right — three feet isn’t quite far enough. I was just thinking in very rough figures (after all, who rides with a yard stick?) when I wrote this post because the entire point was to inform people that it’s okay to leave the bike lane when you need to for safety. My 2nd video especially demonstrates this — the driver of the white car opened her door in front of me, but it doesn’t matter at all because I’m X feet away from the door.

  • November 26, 2010 - 8:27 pm | Permalink

    The camera would “appear” to be mounted on your chest. How did you get it mounted – and seemingly so stationary in relationship to the bike?

  • November 27, 2010 - 8:22 pm | Permalink
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