Only recently have states and municipalities recognized the disastrous consequences dooring-accidents can have on bicyclists in urban areas.
Thankfully, many cities– such as Chicago– have recognized the importance of preventing these injuries by incorporating ordinances to protect cyclists from the unavoidable harm caused when a car door is quickly flung open in front of them.
According to Chicago Municipal Code: 9-80-035- Opening and closing vehicle doors
No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. Added Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 2
By some accounts, dooring-related bike accidents account for more than 15% of bicycle injuries.
However, the real impact of dooring incidents on bicyclists in Illinois will likely remain relatively unknown due to the fact that the Illinois Department of Transportation, the agency responsible for capturing the data, continues keep dooring incidents from their bike accident calculations due to the fact that most accidents happen when cars are stopped.
As a lawyer who has worked on a number of bicycle-dooring cases, I feel that its important for legislators in more rural areas to become aware of both the frequency and the severity of dooring-related injury cases.
According to bike crash statistics published in a Chicago Tribune article, “Bikers call for state to count ‘dooring’ accidents”, the number of dooring-related bike crashes continues to rise with 76 incidents reported in 2010 and 62 in 2009 in the Chicagoland area.
Hopefully, the additional publicity of door-related bike accidents will cause both legislators and riders to take note of this growing problem facing bike riders of all ages.