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How does dooring put cyclists at risk?

Bicyclists have to respond to many hazards on the road, from motor vehicles to avoiding hazards like uneven pavement. Unfortunately, negligent motorists may pose new dangers to those cyclists if they do not remain alert when opening their doors.

When a door strikes a cyclist, this accident is commonly called “dooring.” What risk do these dooring accidents pose, and how can injured cyclists and their loved ones respond?

What injuries can dooring cause?

Dooring accidents can lead to a wide variety of injuries. Colliding with a door — whether the cyclist hits an open door head-on or a door opened while a cyclist passes strikes them from the side — can lead to whiplash, fractures and other issues. Avoiding the door could be just as dangerous, potentially causing cyclists to swerve into heavy traffic to prevent a collision or to fall in the attempt.

These accidents are, unfortunately, fairly common. Some studies indicate that between 10 and 15 percent of bicycle accidents result from dooring. Some cities’ counts are even higher, with Chicago reporting that nearly 20 percent of bicycle accidents involved dooring in 2011.

What can injured people do after experiencing dooring?

While dooring can do significant harm to cyclists, injured people and their families have legal options that can offer support and allow them to hold negligent motorists responsible. In fact, New York state law forbids people from opening a door into moving traffic unless it is “reasonably safe” to open the door and from leaving doors open for longer than they need to.

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