Biking in any large city is one of the quickest ways to get around. You can slip right through traffic and get to where you need to go without worrying about rush hour. But city cycling comes with it’s fair share of challenges as well, from aggressive drivers to “dooring.” Dooring is one of the most dangerous parts of biking in the city.
There are thousands of drivers on the road at any given time. The vast majority of them do their best to stay a safe distance from cyclists, but there’s another issue that some people don’t seem to get.
Dooring is when a driver or passenger opens their door and inadvertently causes a cyclist to crash. These crashes are usually the worst, as the cyclist goes head-over-heels as he or she tumbles over the door.
Cyclists do their best to avoid dooring because it’s such a serious hazard. Even the most experienced bikers can be caught by surprise though. Cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston have millions of inhabitants trying to make their way around, so it’s no surprise that some collisions happen.
Overall, the United States has a low percentage of cyclists compared to most other countries. The Netherlands is way ahead, with 36% of the citizens using bikes as a primary mode of transportation. Just 10% of U.S. citizens said they use their bikes as a mode of transport.
In order to combat this trend, some cities have enacted policies that force the person in the car to be responsible for any injuries they cause by opening their door. Most have also been running PR campaigns to get the word out about the dangers of dooring to cyclists in cities across the country.
The dangers extend beyond just running into the door itself. Cycling in the city often involves riding between parked cars and moving vehicles with just a few feet of space in between. When that door pops out, each cyclist is faced with a lose/lose situation. They can either run directly into the door, or they can swerve and possibly get hit by a different car instead.
If you are walking through Inman Square in Boston, you might notice a bicycle next to the street, locked to a lamppost. It is painted all in white and stands in stark contrast to the bustling city surrounding it.
This bike is a memorial for Amanda Phillips, a 27-year-old Cambridge resident, and cyclist. She was riding through the square in June 2016 when she struck the open door of a Jeep parked on the side of the road. She was thrown from her bike and landed in front of a passing truck.
Phillips was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital, where they did everything they could to save her life. She was officially pronounced dead just an hour or two later.
“For cyclists, it’s a cautionary warning,” Becca Wolfson, executive director of the Boston Cyclists Union said at the time. “As an educational tool, [the memorial] causes people who are walking by to stop and realize that one moment of distraction, one moment of impatience, can take a life.”
Do your best to consider this the next time you get road rage because of a cyclist. They are just trying to make their way to a destination, just like you. They aren’t protected by a hulking metal vehicle, however.
How seriously do you take looking for cyclists when you drive? Share your thoughts in the comments.