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Bicyclist Fatality Provides a Stark Reminder of the Importance of Bike Safety

By Kelly Balamuth on October 30, 2019

A 24-year-old Oakland bicyclist was killed in a dooring accident in early October 2019, as reported by CBS SF. The cyclist was riding southbound in the 1800 block of Fruitvale when he hit the open door of a parked Toyota Avalon and was ejected into traffic. The young man was thrown from the bike and hit by a Dodge Ram pickup traveling south on Fruitvale. Although fire and ambulance crews provided assistance, the bicyclist died at the scene.

What Is Dooring?

Dooring is one of the most common hazards cyclists face. It occurs when a bicyclist (or motorcyclist) is hit by the door of a parked vehicle opened by an individual who failed to check for oncoming traffic prior to exiting. This type of bicycle accident is most common in urban areas with cars parallel parked along the side of the road. Dooring accidents happen frequently at taxi ranks and outside schools, where lines of cars are parked in the morning and mid-afternoon.

Is Dooring Illegal in California?

Dooring is specifically prohibited under state law, which states, “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 . . .” in the California Vehicle Code Section 22517. Leaving a car door open on the side of the vehicle available to moving traffic for longer than necessary to load or unload passengers is also prohibited under the law.

What Can Cyclists Do to Avoid Being Doored?

Particularly in heavily populated urban areas, cyclists must remain vigilant to avoid dooring accidents. Steps bike riders can take to avoid dooring accidents include:

  • Ride in a designated bike lane, if one is available.
  • Ride at least three feet away from parked cars.
  • Slow down when riding past parked cars.
  • Stay alert for motorists who may be about to exit their vehicles.

What Drivers Should Do to Avoid Dooring Cyclists

Most dooring accidents are caused by negligent individuals inside of motor vehicles. When you are exiting a parked vehicle, the following tips can you avoid causing severe injury to a cyclist:

  • Look for approaching cyclists and other traffic before opening your car door.
  • Cultivate the “Dutch Reach” habit – use the hand farthest from the door to open it. This motion will cause you to turn your body and make it more likely that you will notice oncoming traffic, including bicycles.
  • Open your car door slowly. This gives you time to spot an oncoming cyclist. It also gives the cyclist more time to come to a safe stop or warn you of his or her approach.
  • Find a different parking place with less moving traffic to avoid.

If you have been injured in a dooring bicycle accident, it is in your best interests to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Contact Balamuth Law at (925) 254-1234 or toll-free at (888) 254-1234 today. Our Oakland personal injury lawyers are passionate about helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve.

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Posted in: Wrongful Death

Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
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