Dooring is Real. So Stop Putting Bike Lanes in the Door Zone

I have been doing some research about bike lanes and on-street parking over the past few years and have found:

  • Most crash data sources do not include crashes where a bicyclist comes in contact with the door of a parked motor vehicle because this crash type does not involve a motor vehicle in transport.
  • Other sources show that “dooring” accounts for 12% to 27% of urban bicycle-motor vehicle crashes, making it one of the most common types.
  • Most design guides used in North America permit bike lanes to be installed within reach of the doors of parked cars. By contrast, more recent guidelines for “separated” bike lanes on the curbside of parked cars require a buffer zone.
  • Shared lane markings help to encourage bicyclists to ride away from the door zone and could be used in place of bike lanes that are too close to parked cars.

There is no excuse any more, if there ever was one, for making door-zone bike lanes. Yet I have no doubt that many places are still marking them.

Ironically, now we hear that separated bike lanes are better because they account for the door zone. But if you can put a buffer zone in with separated bike lanes, you can put one in with ordinary bike lanes. And if you can’t or won’t, then it is much better to do shared lane markings guiding bicyclists to the middle of the travel lane, outside the door zone. (Before you get all huffy about bicyclists not wanting to be in fast-moving traffic, consider that when there is on-street parking, it is expected that there will be cars that stop and back up in order to get into on-street parking. If motorists can avoid them, surely they can avoid moving bicyclists. Provided the bicyclists are sufficiently visible at night — that will be the subject of a future post.)

My dooring research paper is available in PDF.

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