The Guardian on the Door Prize: How Bad Bike Lane Design Is Killing Cyclists

bikelane blocked new york photo

In many cities, bike lanes are little more than painted lines between parked cars and moving traffic. In the Guardian bike blog, Laura Laker notes that this might even increase the risk of injury from "The Door Prize"- people opening their car doors without looking. A cycling instructor once told her to " ride "a door and a bit more" away from parked cars, even on narrow roads. " Yet many of our bike lanes aren't designed to leave you enough room to do that. This is certainly the case in Toronto, where I ride. She writes:

Unfortunately some urban cycle lanes are within the dooring zone, encouraging cyclists to ride dangerously close to parked cars. David Dansky, of Cycle Training UK, advises cyclists not to use these lanes: "The risk [of dooring] while riding in the car door lane is much more than being rammed by a car behind who can see you."

City of gtorontoCity of Toronto/Public Domain

In the UK the Highway Code says " "You must ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door – check for cyclists or other traffic." In Ontario, Canada, The Highway Traffic act says that drivers opening the doors of parked vehicles are forbidden to do so "without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle". The City ran a big awareness campaign a few years ago to try and reduce the number of Door Prizes.

new york bike lane

Ultimately, it is a design problem. This New York bike lane allows room for the door to open, and even has a buffer to the right of the lane to give the cyclist a little more breathing room from the cars. In a typical Toronto lane beside parked cars, cyclists have been killed because they hit the door and bounce right into the traffic lane. But what happens of you ride the right distance from cars to be safe? Laura explains:

Recently a driver threw a bottle at me because I rode out of the door zone on a single track road, which meant he couldn't pass. He revved the engine, honked his horn and drove inches from my back wheel, though I was simply doing what I had been taught.

More in the Guardian

The Guardian on the Door Prize: How Bad Bike Lane Design Is Killing Cyclists
Cyclists are supposed to ride "a door and some more" away from cars. But sometimes you can't.

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