Cyclists fear “getting doored,” but maybe not enough: they may not realize it’s one of the most common car-bike crashes, if not the most common. Such has been the case in Santa Barbara. As our data comes in from Newport Beach, it looks like it’s true here too.
Can you imagine hitting a car door at fifteen, or twenty miles an hour? It can be deadly. Even if the door just clips a handlebar, it will throw the cyclist off the bike to the left, into the path of cars and trucks. Yikes!
So please look for cyclists when opening your car door. It’s the law! CVC 22517, Opening and Closing Doors, says:
“No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open upon the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
European drivers are taught to reach across with their right hand to open their driver’s side door, turning their upper body to look over their shoulder.
Do you check for cyclists? How about over your right shoulder, when making a right turn? None of us is perfect, but in general, I do. When I’m a passenger in someone else’s car and they don’t, it makes me nervous. With so many cyclists on the road in Newport Beach, I’ve always been on the lookout. I hope you are too, and that you’ll teach this to the young drivers in your family.
As a cyclist, I know that I need to stay out of the door zone, and sometimes ride in the middle of the lane. But not all cyclists realize this. We may need to show them.