Bicyclists in California face a wide variety of dangers. Drivers may not always see smaller vehicles like bicycles, and bicyclists are relatively unprotected when struck by a car or truck. Poor maintenance of roads, bicycle lanes, paths and sidewalks can create hazardous conditions. When bicycling near parked vehicles, though, cyclists face another danger: dooring.

What happens to bicyclists who are victims of dooring?

“Dooring” — when a bicyclist strikes the open door of a vehicle while passing it — is a surprisingly common accident. Drivers often do not check for oncoming cyclists when opening a door or leave vehicle doors open and block the roadway. Cyclists can easily crash into these open doors or fall from their bicycles, and other vehicles could strike a bicyclist trying to avoid an open or opening door.

These accidents can lead to a variety of injuries, including:

  • Road rash
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spine injuries
  • Broken bones

Statistics indicate that dooring was the cause of 16% of fatal bicyclist accidents in San Francisco between 2013 and 2015, and others report that dooring may be the cause of one-fifth of all cycling accidents.

What does the law say about dooring?

Thankfully, California law offers protection for bicycles and other vehicles. Vehicle Code 22517 requires drivers and passengers to open car doors only when it is safe to do so. Drivers must also close those doors quickly to decrease the hazard that open doors can pose to other vehicles, including bicycles.

Bicyclists who have been injured by dooring could be eligible for compensation after their accident. This compensation can help fund medical care and repair or replacement their bicycle and offset the harm caused by the crash.