Avoiding the Door Zone

This is a must-see video on how to avoid getting doored. From Wpreston3 on YouTube.

[via Do the Right Thing]

20 Responses to “Avoiding the Door Zone”

  • dukiebiddle says:

    If I did that in my city I’d get shot.

  • Alan says:

    Ride safely? Where do you live?

  • Rick says:

    Wow! That was really eye-opening…I am guessing dukiebiddle lives somewhere like Wichita! I think if you are already taking your place in the lane (i.e. riding in the right tire line), it isn’t much more of an inconvenience to cars if you just move over a few feet. As long as you don’t cross into the other lane, and you are riding predictably (in a straight line) the cars should only be slightly more annoyed…not extremely more so! Remember, in towns like Wichita there are no dedicated bike lanes, so we are forced to ride in traffic sometimes. (As the New Yorkers erupt in laughter!)

    Question, on a one-way street, is it safer to ride on the left side? The presumption is that there are far fewer passengers getting out than drivers.

  • Nicolas says:

    I can hear the horns behind me on the lane…

  • Ze Kohl says:

    You will get used to the horns, ignore them or wave back at them, honking means a friendly greeting right?
    I mean you are not doing anything wrong riding on the street where you and your vehicle belong.

    Motorists will learn…just shrug it off until they do…

  • Antoine says:

    Very interesting. I accept the logic, but our New Zealand roads are narrow and our drivers are very aggressive. I tend to look out the corner of my eye for occupants in the cars. If I rode that far out into the lane people would attempt to overtake me on the inside. I’m not joking, this happened to me when I was riding motorcycles!

  • dukiebiddle says:

    Wichita?! Heh. I’m in Baltimore… and I was only half kidding about getting shot. Rick, like you were saying, I use the right tire line as my proper lane placement. Inconveniencing drivers to the point that they have to work around you is the safest option. But anything that could be construed as center lane, in any situation where a cyclist would be incapable of keeping up with the pace of traffic, could block the pace of traffic to the point where passing safely would be an impossibility, thus antagonizing drivers past the confrontation point. That would be fine with the average horn happy bike hater, but problematic when a significant number of drivers are bangers. I think the instructor and the cyclist in the video added a foot and half to two feet to drive home the point to inexperienced riders (especially in light of him saying bike lanes are 5 feet wide… in what heaven is that?!) that 3 or 4 feet is not enough. I was on board with everything they were saying until the cyclist picked up his bicycle and moved it that last time. And in my state, if a cyclist was unable to keep up with the pace of traffic, the lane placement they recommended would actually be against the law. My recommendation would be for a cyclist to militantly hold at 5-6 feet on the right tire line and train him or herself to learn to subdue the instinct to swerve at the sight of an opening door.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    “Question, on a one-way street, is it safer to ride on the left side? The presumption is that there are far fewer passengers getting out than drivers.”

    It’s a debatable issue. Personally, I’m against it. A cyclist’s visibility is definitely better on the left, and it will protect you from the Right Hook. The presumption is that as less passengers will be getting out of the cars, it is safer. Problem is, a door zone is a door zone. A door that is less likely to be opened will still kill you. You are not supposed to be in the door zone anyway, either on the right or the left. Now, I will admit to having done it, and I’ve found that I’m more tempted to ride in the door zone on the left side, as a safe lane placement REALLY REALLY blocks traffic when you are riding on the left. I know some cities are placing bike lanes on the left side (I believe in cases where there is no left hand parking) for the sake of increased visibility. A problem with that is even inexperienced cyclists have to cross all the lanes of traffic to get to the bike lane.

  • Sharper says:

    dukiebiddle: “I know some cities are placing bike lanes on the left side (I believe in cases where there is no left hand parking)”

    Sacramento, in its central area, has converted a number of three-lane one-way streets with parking on both sides to two lanes one-way with bike lanes and parking on both sides. I haven’t been keeping data, but the biggest change in cyclist behavior I’ve seen after the conversions is that riders use the bike lane to ride against traffic — certainly not an improvement.

    I live in the area and I try to avoid bike laned streets. I’ll take motorists yelling at me to get off the f***ing road (or helpfully yelling that I was going to get run over) over getting creamed by a door, and it’s much easier to justify taking a lane when there’s not a dedicated bike lane. Even if I’m the only cyclist in Sacramento asserting my right to the roadway, I’ll take it; someone’s gotta train drivers, and I’m happier out of the door zone.

  • Neil says:

    @dukiebiddle that is mad (that it could be illegal or that someone would get mad enough to resort to violence), but agree 5 foot bike lanes are not generally what we get in UK. Though our roads are narrower too.

    If they can’t overtake safely using the other lane then they have to wait until there is room, though I agree with the pudent advice that if you really think drivers will get violent or that you have crazy laws then taking it to the step before is probably the best idea.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    Neil, I think it has less to do with rage as it does with a gang members’ interpretation of respect. Not that I don’t understand the training that was shown in the video. In 99% of the country, as well as my own city’s suburbs, it is very good training: worry about the physical dangers over conflict, conflict is typically just yelling and “creative” hand signals. But what the training does not take into account is environments where conflicts themselves can be deadly. A few years ago, a cyclist flipped off a car that honked at him in my city. The occupants of the car grabbed him, dragged him down, beat him and then ran over him 3 times. Every year, bangers seem to shoot and kill cab drivers that “disrespect” them. I’m sorry, but in this environment I cannot recommend any action that is going to invite conflict.

    “If they can’t overtake safely using the other lane then they have to wait until there is room…” I agree and even here that is okay, but the video did not indicate such a lane position. It recommended full lane to avoid dooring.

    Also, I don’t think my state’s cycling law is unreasonable. It allows taking full lane when a cyclist is capable of maintaining the speed of the flow of traffic. If the cyclist cannot, the cyclist is legally expected to move to the right of the lane, but not necessarily out of the cars’ way or into the door zone. Basically, the law expects the cyclist to position him/herself in the path of the cars’ right tire, which is cannon for proper lane position. Now, we do need a 3 foot pass law here, but otherwise the laws are fine.

  • Croupier says:

    If HBO brings back The Wire I’m sure there will be a season that focuses on cycling in Baltimore.

  • dukiebiddle says:

    Croupier, omg that sounds even worse than the season 5 focus on the media. I actually wish that someone had given that show a soldier’s death and shot it in an alley after season 4, when it’s guns were still blazing.

  • Lovely Bicycle! says:

    90% of cyclists I see in the Boston area — confident cyclists who look like they’ve been doing it for a while — ride in the door zone. When I take the lane in order to avoid the door zone, they will often pass me on the right, between me and the cars! That video should be shown to every cyclist and every driver who shouts at cyclists for being too far out in the middle of the lane.

  • Cliff says:

    I have hit a car door- I was lucky- just some scratches and bruises. A friend ended up in the hospital when she hit one- concussion and broken collarbone. And Dana Laird ended up dead when she hit one in Cambridge– crushed by a bus. Doors are serious business.

    Here’s an expert witness analysis of Dana Laird fatality:


  • Scott says:

    In my city, if you’re in the bike lane, you will be in the door zone. And if you’re not in the bike lane (on a street that has one), you will invite a lot of hostility. Unfortunately for me, on my commute during rush hours, I have to take the streets with bike lanes, because they are the ones with traffic signals, and there is too much traffic to be able to cross intersections safely on the other (non-bike lane, non-signal) streets.
    A friend of mine hit a car door once, and ended up with a broken collarbone. Oddly enough, it was good thing, as the x-rays revealed cancer that he was not aware of.

  • Neil says:

    I don’t agree with any law that requires a cyclist to move to the inside instead of taking the whole lane when they feel they need to. That video showed why it has to be legal to take the whole lane, so the cyclist is in a safe position. If the law doesn’t allow for that it has to be wrong.

  • JaFO says:

    That is ridiculously safe.
    If you pay attention to the cars that are parked alongside the road you’ll know which ones to be aware of and you won’t need to ride in the middle of the street just to be ‘safe’.
    The first distance shown is safe enough as you’d get enough warning to avoid a collision, provided you aren’t speeding and using your eyes.

    And no … that’s not because (over here) drivers are more aware of there being bikes.
    That doesn’t matter as most humans tend to ‘forget’ that there’s traffic when getting out of the car.
    Heck … over here bike-lanes tend to be within 1 meter of a car parked at the side of the road …

  • k says:

    where is this magical land where there are no parked cars? or is it that there’s none driving? bike lane or not, you aren’t safe from getting doored as long as there is traffic.

  • Sharper says:

    K: I’m not sure where that land is. I can’t think of a single bike-laned street in Sacramento that doesn’t have parallel-parked cars on the curbside waiting to strike hapless cyclists in the bike lane. And that goes double for a host of one-way streets that now have two bike lanes and two curbside parallel parking lanes.

    I know I’m not safe from dooring anywhere there’s a car, but in moving traffic, I’m relying on motor passengers’ sense of self-preservation to keep them from opening the door at 30 mph just to spite me.

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