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How to avoid getting doored

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How to avoid getting doored

Old 07-22-20, 01:21 PM
  #1  
RadDog
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How to avoid getting doored

Have any of you been the victim of some thoughtless person who opened the car door into you while you are doing 20 miles per hour?

Here is how to avoid getting doored in heavy traffic.

Watch the head of the motorist that is next to you on your right. Invariably, right before opening their door into you their head position will change.

Typically they will look left seconds prior to opening their door into you. Follow the head, if you see them turning left than chances are good they are going to open their door into you.

So, always keep their head in your peripheral vision. If it turns left you need to be on your brakes prior to them opening the door. Also, stay aware of what is on your left, so that if you need an out and were not on the brakes you can escape. The problem in heavy traffic is you will often have a car a couple of inches away from you on your left, so you can't take evasive action. If you are on your brakes as soon as you see the head turn you should be OK.
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Old 07-22-20, 02:00 PM
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I think I would follow the advice from LAB. Riding in the 'door zone' is not safe. Consequently, you have the right to move further into the lane so that if a door opens, you will not be hit or need to take emergency action. Biking in a straight line is important. However, you should move back toward the curb if there is significant (judged by the cyclist), room between parked cars and it is safe to ride on that part of the street.

Here is the youtube you may want to review from LAB about road positioning https://www.bikeleague.org/content/where-should-i-ride Here is the link to the rest of the ridesmart series https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmart

It sounds like the street is busy. I would also consider an alternate street with less parking, more road. But, I understand that this could be the only reasonable route.

Last edited by debade; 07-22-20 at 02:02 PM. Reason: poorly written
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Old 07-22-20, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by debade View Post
I think I would follow the advice from LAB. Riding in the 'door zone' is not safe. Consequently, you have the right to move further into the lane so that if a door opens, you will not be hit or need to take emergency action. Biking in a straight line is important. However, you should move back toward the curb if there is significant (judged by the cyclist), room between parked cars and it is safe to ride on that part of the street.

Here is the youtube you may want to review from LAB about road positioning https://www.bikeleague.org/content/where-should-i-ride Here is the link to the rest of the ridesmart series https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmart

It sounds like the street is busy. I would also consider an alternate street with less parking, more road. But, I understand that this could be the only reasonable route.
I will check that out. My suggestions come from 5 years as a bike messenger in one of the densest cities in the country. You don't have much choice, you will be riding in bumper to bumper traffic, and there is no way to "stay out of the door zone."

The video you posted is good, but it is also as basic as a kindergarten class. The techniques I use come from thousand and thousands of hours in rush hour traffic. These techniques are much more sophisticated than those covered in the video.

As such, that video is a great place to start, but rudimentary.

Last edited by RadDog; 07-22-20 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 07-22-20, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
I will check that out. My suggestions come from 5 years as a bike messenger in one of the densest cities in the country. You don't have much choice, you will be riding in bumper to bumper traffic, and there is no way to "stay out of the door zone."


The video you posted is good, but it is also as basic as a kindergarten class. The techniques I use come from thousand and thousands of hours in rush hour traffic. These techniques are much more sophisticated than those covered in the video.


As such, that video is a great place to start, but rudimentary.
Cycling Savvy has a more sophisticated training program for $50 right now. Their basic advice is take as much of the lane as you need to be safe from the door and the car wanting to pass. They introduced me to a concept I have been experimenting with. Their suggestion is to position yourself so the motorist feels they must pass you by going into the next lane, in part or full. That is referenced in the LAB taps but like you said, rudimentary. In other words, judge your distance from the left lane line vs the curb. And always stay out of the door zone.


Just so you know, I too have thousands of miles but to be fair not as a bike messenger. I appreciate that time is money and your destination might not be your choice. But I have ridden in major cities such as NYC, LA, Chicago, Phoenix, Miami, Paris, and more. I guess if the choice is to inconvenience a motorist for my safety vs adding another thing to pay attention (the opening of a door), I choose the motorist.


I appreciate this discussion.
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Old 07-22-20, 07:37 PM
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Ideally, you'd avoid the door zone.

If you don't avoid the door zone, the suggestions RadDog mentioned make sense.

Neither are wrong.

(But avoiding the door zone, if that's safe, is preferable.)

==================================

Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
IMy suggestions come from 5 years as a bike messenger in one of the densest cities in the country.​​​​
What applies to messengers might not apply to everybody.

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-22-20 at 07:41 PM.
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Old 07-22-20, 08:59 PM
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I've found that it's extremely hard to see into parked cars. So much light reflects off the glass, and the windows are often tinted. Perhaps as a surviving messenger, you have better eyesight and reflexes than I have. On the other hand 20 mph is above my top speed on level ground. But I have a very hard time even seeing if there's someone in the car.
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Old 07-22-20, 10:36 PM
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Didn't y'all's get enough of this in the other RECENT thread on the topic? Stop it. Seriously. Cut it out. No one is checking out anyone's head motion at 20mph and no one has any business doing 20mph in a door zone, so just stop. I'm not asking. I'm coming back with some thread locking firepower if you can't satisfy yourselves with just one thread on a hot button topic at a time. You have been warned.
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Old 07-22-20, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Didn't y'all's get enough of this in the other RECENT thread on the topic? Stop it. Seriously. Cut it out. No one is checking out anyone's head motion at 20mph and no one has any business doing 20mph in a door zone, so just stop. I'm not asking. I'm coming back with some thread locking firepower if you can't satisfy yourselves with just one thread on a hot button topic at a time. You have been warned.
I am not sure what you are asking us to cut out. We are discussing safety issues related to driving in an urban environment? Getting doored has been a hot topic since cars were driven. I have an extraordinary amount of knowledge about this topic and hundreds of related safety and street driving tips. If you prefer me not to share my 30 years on the road you are doing other members a disservice.

You have a nice day and please do not abuse your mod power on my behalf, there is nothing for me to gain from posting.

The only reason I am posting now is a member of this forum suggested a movie for me to watch (Murder of Messenger). I am familiar with the topic and could give insight into what life is like as a messenger. The drug and alcohol abuse is certainly not overstated, it is what eventually brought me down. If you prefer to ban me I am fine with that.
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Old 07-22-20, 11:51 PM
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I am not a mod. But it's hard to understand how you missed a 5 page thread that is at the top of the heap to start this one. BTW I've been a messenger too. It always seems like the people that have the most to say about safety topics are the one's that have been creamed multiple times in one lifetime.
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Old 07-23-20, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
Have any of you been the victim of some thoughtless person who opened the car door into you while you are doing 20 miles per hour?

Here is how to avoid getting doored in heavy traffic.

Watch the head of the motorist that is next to you on your right. Invariably, right before opening their door into you their head position will change.

Typically they will look left seconds prior to opening their door into you. Follow the head, if you see them turning left than chances are good they are going to open their door into you.

So, always keep their head in your peripheral vision. If it turns left you need to be on your brakes prior to them opening the door. Also, stay aware of what is on your left, so that if you need an out and were not on the brakes you can escape. The problem in heavy traffic is you will often have a car a couple of inches away from you on your left, so you can't take evasive action. If you are on your brakes as soon as you see the head turn you should be OK.
But, but, but ... the two times I was doored I was completely unable to see that there was even anybody in the car. One was parked under a streetlight and no lights were on, inside or out. The second, the driver had been looking for something on the passenger side floor and never raised her had above the seatback before opening. Your advice would have made zero difference.

Ben
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Old 07-23-20, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
I am not a mod. But it's hard to understand how you missed a 5 page thread that is at the top of the heap to start this one. BTW I've been a messenger too. It always seems like the people that have the most to say about safety topics are the one's that have been creamed multiple times in one lifetime.
I was lucky. That thread is all about assessing blame. The focus needs to be on making it not happen. Heavy tinting makes it hard obviously. But Down Town SF or NY isn't a real heavy tinting crowd. They are usually business people.

Back to the topic of assessing blame. It does not matter who's fault, what matters are your broken bones. After 5 years working in dense traffic you develop a sixth sense, it is hard to explain, it is the little things. I always picked up head movement like clockwork. A tiny tire turn. If someone parked is looking right it usually means they are getting something they have on the passenger seat, about one second before they turn left and open their door. This one is easy, because their whole body moves

I always, always assume that every person driving is a complete idiot, and I try and assess the absolute dumbest thing they could do. Always be ready for that. There is an incredible energy coming off the street, I know, I am nut job, but it is palpable. You feed on it like a drug. Most messengers become drug addicts/alcoholics any ways. But at one point in their life they could ride.
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Old 07-23-20, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
Have any of you been the victim of some thoughtless person who opened the car door into you while you are doing 20 miles per hour?

Here is how to avoid getting doored in heavy traffic.

Watch the head of the motorist that is next to you on your right. Invariably, right before opening their door into you their head position will change.

Typically they will look left seconds prior to opening their door into you. Follow the head, if you see them turning left than chances are good they are going to open their door into you.

So, always keep their head in your peripheral vision. If it turns left you need to be on your brakes prior to them opening the door. Also, stay aware of what is on your left, so that if you need an out and were not on the brakes you can escape. The problem in heavy traffic is you will often have a car a couple of inches away from you on your left, so you can't take evasive action. If you are on your brakes as soon as you see the head turn you should be OK.
Where I live, cars are often heavily tinted and driver / pax are really hard to see. 6 wheeler trucks which are abundant in the streets have completely blocked view of the driver from behind.

So I just avoid the door zone and if I can't avoid the doorzone, I slow down until I passed the car. Motorcyclists (who are mostly professional delivery) also do the same thing in my city.

A passive option is simply bring a front light and turn it on (day or night, steady light, not blinking) - this cannot guarantee someone not opening a door for you but you'll definitely show up in the driver's side view mirror quite easily in case you have no other choice but to go through the doorzone (slowly of course). Just make sure the light is pointed slightly down and at low power setting so you don't blind the drivers through their mirrors

Another option if you can maintain the same speed as cars, you can move to the middle of the lane which places you completely out of the door zone. However, this option may not work for everyone as in my city there are no bike lanes so cyclists can own lanes if they can pace the cars. This option requires having flashing (not strobing) rear light day / night so you'r much easier to notice if you're slowing down.

Last edited by cubewheels; 07-23-20 at 04:00 AM.
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Old 07-23-20, 05:23 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Didn't y'all's get enough of this in the other RECENT thread on the topic? Stop it. Seriously. Cut it out. No one is checking out anyone's head motion at 20mph and no one has any business doing 20mph in a door zone, so just stop. I'm not asking. I'm coming back with some thread locking firepower if you can't satisfy yourselves with just one thread on a hot button topic at a time. You have been warned.

Oh, knock it off. "Stop this thread or I'll get it locked" is a pretty silly threat, especially when you aren't a mod.

Who made you thread god?

This thread actually is quite different from the other door zone thread which focused on the entirely pointless "who's at fault" debate. You don't want to discuss technique, don't click on the thread. Your problem solved.
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Old 07-23-20, 05:44 AM
  #14  
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I have not seen research on the effectiveness of the Dutch Reach but it is the only extra step I am aware specifically designed to train motorists to look in their door zone before opening the door. We all maybe better off advocating for implementation of the Dutch Reach in our State and local ordinances, while still practicing safe techniques
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Old 07-23-20, 07:09 AM
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RadDog Thanks for the post, and the advice. I don't know how "practicable" it is, but it is worth trying out, and I shall.

It reminded me how I read here years ago to watch a car's front wheel as well as the car's tail-lights, to determine if it was beginning to move, as cars can roll forward before the brake lights go off. And also if a car is parked along a curb the front wheel will usually begin to point out before the car rolls forward.

As far as riding in the door zone, I have been lucky that most of my commute routes allow me to avoid it. But when I can't I also keep my finger on my AirZound airhorn. Even when I honk I wouldn't trust people to pull their doors back in time to avoid trouble, but you'd be surprised how often they do when they hear a horn. And then I don't have to swerve as far into traffic.

(As far as "missing" a 5-page thread at the "top of the heap"...so what. As stated above there is a slightly different focus to your post (technique vs. "fault") and even so, a more polite and positive way of mentioning it would be "perhaps you'd be interested in the discussion thread labelled "If you get doored, who's at fault?" and provide the link like I just did.)
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Old 07-23-20, 07:10 AM
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Dooring is actually a low-probability event so I take anyone's "this has been foolproof for me" claims with about a zillion grains of salt. The vast majority of us will never get doored in our lifetimes no matter how much we ride and no matter how we approach the "door zone." The timing of the opening has to be just right for this to be anything but a "I had to slam the brakes" or "I had to swerve uncomfortably" annoyance. I've had maybe one or two close calls in 50+ years of riding and many 10s of thousands of miles of urban riding, and I don't claim any special expertise.

As to OP, I think this technique goes a bridge too far. Obviously, if you see a head over the seat immediately to your right, there is the possibility of that door opening whether or not you perceive a head movement. Why wouldn't I just assume if I see a head, the door is likely to open? I don't believe that all drivers and left-side passengers do things in exactly the same way, why am I betting on that? My approach is very simple, if I have to ride in the door zone, I slow down, if I see a head in the window, I slow wayyyy down or even stop until I make sure they see me or I wait until I can swerve out of the zone.

And I rode with enough bike messengers in the 1980s to know that they're about the last people I'm taking safety tips from. Maximizing safety is not the job.

If this is to be a useful thread, how about we just describe any technique we use and avoid arguing about credentials and effectiveness? I'm open to hearing new ideas and while I disagree with OP about his/hers, I commend the attempt to toss one out there..
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Old 07-23-20, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
I'm open to hearing new ideas and while I disagree with OP about his/hers, I commend the attempt to toss one out there..
Thanks livedarklions for showing how to politely disagree. (I'm serious...thanks!)
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Old 07-23-20, 07:19 AM
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This was common advice 50 years ago. It is much less effective now as the majority of cars where I live have enough tint on the windows that you often can't do this.

Personally, I would never ride in a door zone. Not ever. But I have that option and I understand there are some urban areas where it is harder to absolutely avoid.
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Old 07-23-20, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
But, but, but ... the two times I was doored I was completely unable to see that there was even anybody in the car. One was parked under a streetlight and no lights were on, inside or out. The second, the driver had been looking for something on the passenger side floor and never raised her had above the seatback before opening. Your advice would have made zero difference.

Ben
My advice to you would be to learn how to ride.
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Old 07-23-20, 09:37 AM
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Lots of good stuff here. The biggest point is "don't put yourself in harms way." "If you are riding like a messenger then you are already doing it wrong."

You guys are correct on this point. "If your daily commute puts you in a dangerous position, then change your route."

Having said that, a lot of these little things will help you tremendously. Someone noted that they watch the front wheel, looking for the slightest movement as an indicator of them doing something stupid. That is excellent advice. What eventually happens is you develop a sort of sixth sense, you are looking for any and all indicators of behavior, head body movement inside the car and wheel positioning.


If you are able to see inside the car and there is no movement you next look at the front tire. A tiny bit of movement from the front tire usually means they are starting the car and likely to turn into you. Your mind eventually becomes trained to look at 100 little bits of movement that are indicators of subsequent action that may endanger you.

Now these are just tools, tools to be added to your skill set. You guys probably do half of them already as part of your automatic muscle memory system.
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Old 07-23-20, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Oh, knock it off. "Stop this thread or I'll get it locked" is a pretty silly threat, especially when you aren't a mod.

Who made you thread god?

This thread actually is quite different from the other door zone thread which focused on the entirely pointless "who's at fault" debate. You don't want to discuss technique, don't click on the thread. Your problem solved.
You are the silly one for getting triggered by a silly threat. And no, this thread is no different from the other one. Just more of the same ... yeah ...
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Old 07-23-20, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
You are the silly one for getting triggered by a silly threat. And no, this thread is no different from the other one. Just more of the same ... yeah ...
And yet we're still talking on this one despite your dire warning.

Where's your SWAT team?

My FX3 had trigger shifting, but I gave it to my son so I haven't been triggering for a while. I wasn't much of a Lone Ranger fan if that's what you mean.

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Old 07-23-20, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
My advice to you would be to learn how to ride.

You're better than that comment. My advice would be to apologize.
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Old 07-23-20, 11:21 AM
  #24  
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Another thing I do is blast my 140 db horn + avoiding the door zone.

One more important reason to avoid door zone in case of vans and trucks, people on foot / pedestrians could sneak out on the other side of the parked vehicle into your path, catching you totally by surprise. This also another important reason to sound the horn. Being out of the door zone greatly reduces the probability of hitting the person and also makes it easy to swerve out of harm's way.

Ironically such circumstances seem to happen very rarely depending on your region. Most people are sensible enough to scan the road before coming out. OFC things won't be the same for those who are drunk, impaired judgement, and for unsupervised children.
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Old 07-23-20, 11:36 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by RadDog View Post
Typically they will look left seconds prior to opening their door into you. Follow the head, if you see them turning left than chances are good they are going to open their door into you.
Or they won't turn their head and just open the door without any hint.

It can happen if people are under a great deal of stress, distracted, nervous breakdown, drunk, etc. Rare thing but if you encounter this and you're in the door zone, it helps to have slowed down, coasting, and in "hard braking stance".
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