Cycling is both an intense sport and a pleasant means of commuting. Unfortunately, bike riding isn’t always safe. In 2012, there were 49 bicycle accidents that resulted in serious injuries in King County, home to the Seattle metropolitan area, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
One way that cyclists are often injured is people exiting vehicles without checking their surroundings first, just as the cyclist rides past. A sudden impact with an open door can leave the bicyclist seriously injured. For more information about how to avoid being injured by an open car door, here’s what you need to know about the bicycle door zone and some tips to protect yourself from these accidents.
What is a bicycle door zone?
A bicycle door zone refers to the left side of a car that is parallel parked. When a cyclist rides past while in the door zone, a driver may open the car door, causing the cyclist to ride directly into the door, or swerve around the door into traffic.
By designing bike lanes that give a wide clearance between the bike lane and parked cars, cyclists have a better chance of avoiding this danger zone, therefore avoiding accident and injury.
The Dangers of Bicycle Door Zones
Being hit by a car door that’s opening can cause serious hazards for cyclists. While being hit by the door itself can cause an injury, harm could also come to a bicyclist when he or she attempts to swerve into traffic to avoid the open car door.
When a cyclist swerves to avoid being hit by a car door, he or she is put in danger of being hit by traffic. If a cyclist does not make contact with the car door, and is not hit by an oncoming vehicle, they are still at risk of sustaining an injury if he or she falls off his or her bike in an attempt to miss the door. This can also cause serious injuries.
A cyclist who runs into a car door, who is hit by a moving vehicle, or who falls off the bike is at risk for sustaining various bicycle injuries.
- Traumatic brain injury
- Broken bones, specifically broken wrists
- Internal injuries
How to Protect Yourself from Bicycle Door Zones
As a cyclist, it’s important to stay aware of your surrounding and not to count on motorists to pay attention to or follow the law.
- Watch for opening doors.
- Be prepared to stop suddenly.
- Change your route to avoid areas of highly concentrated cars that are parallel parked.
- Make yourself as visible as possible.
- Ride in the bike lane when possible.
If You’ve Been Injured by an Open Car Door
If you're in an accident as a cyclist in Seattle, you need an advocate who will fight for your rights as a victim. An attorney can help you understand the following.
- The law as it pertains to your specific case.
- What you’ll need to do to win a civil personal injury suit.
- How to prove the negligence of the person who caused your accident.
- What types of compensation you may be able to recover.
At Max Meyers Law PLLC, we are ready to help. For assistance filing your claim today, to receive a free case consultation, or just to ask us some legal questions, give us a call at 425-399-7000 to get started today. You can also contact us online to set up a consultation.