Running into a car door or being doored by a car usually occurs where there are a lot of cars, generally in a city. The statistics show that it happens a lot more frequently than we think. Remember that a driver may have parked their car and have sat in it for few minutes and then suddenly they decide to get out and run an errand and when they open the door they usually throw it pretty hard to their left and the door opens widely.
The other situation is you may have a car that stops briefly, they want to discharge a passenger on the right side of their car and there might be a bike lane or maybe an opportunity for you to be passing legitimately on the right side of that car and the passenger throws the door open unexpectedly and you run into it.
So, how does a cyclist get themselves in that position? I think most of us are thinking we’re trying to stay out of the fast lane that is to the left of the cars, so you tend to stay a little bit to the right or hug the right. We aren’t always thinking about car doors being opened and many times you kind of fall into the monotony of clicking off the miles and you’re not really paying close attention to the obstructions that you’re approaching. I only mention this because you think that when a driver opens the door or the passenger opens the door, the liability should be on them. They have the responsibility to make sure nothing is coming. But I guarantee you they’re not thinking about a cyclist.
I want to make sure that when it happens to someone I know that there isn’t an argument that the cyclist should have avoided it. So, we as cyclists need to be aware of our surroundings as much as we can. When you see a line of cars, allow enough room to pass to avoid a door that might open unexpectedly.
When I talk to a cyclist who has been injured in this situation, I’m going to be looking to make a case against the driver. I don’t want them to make a case that it was partially the cyclist’s fault. If you find yourself or you know someone who is in this situation, don’t assume what can or cannot be done. Many people assume they can’t do anything about it. Talk to an experienced bicycle lawyer before you make a decision not to pursue or not to call anybody.