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What to do after a dooring accident in Minnesota

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Bicycle Accidents

As warmer weather hits in most of the country, it’s a good time to remind people about bicycle safety. Although Minnesota ranks low for cyclist fatalities, and the St. Paul/Twin Cities area is considered one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country, there is still some work to be done to reach the state’s road safety goals.

One problem that continues to impact cyclists is dooring accidents.

Dooring accidents explained

Dooring is an often unforeseeable type of bicycle accident that happens more often than people think. However, it’s rarely mentioned in discussions on road safety.

Simply put, a dooring incident describes what happens when a cyclist and an opening car door collide. It’s particularly perilous in busy urban areas where roadside parallel parking spaces and cyclists must learn to safely coexist.

Nearly one-fifth of all bicycle accidents are due to such collisions. For this reason, discussions about road safety should include preventative measures to avoid dooring accidents.

Bicycle safety in Minnesota

On average, one cyclist is killed in Minnesota every six weeks. In response to these deadly statistics, the state of Minnesota has created a bicycle safety campaign called Toward Zero Deaths. Part of this program involves raising awareness about potential safety issues when pedestrians, cyclists, and cars routinely share the road.

Part of the problem is that motorists are rarely on the lookout for cyclist when they’re parked. New vehicle safety features like censors that warn of people and vehicles within impact range could help prevent this type of accident. Another possible solution is driver and cyclist education warning of the danger. Creating dedicated bicycle lanes could also help to prevent such incidents.

New solutions to prevent dooring accidents

For more solutions, road safety engineers, vehicle manufacturers, driver education instructors and other stakeholders could look to Europe. Many European countries have high bicycle ridership, especially in cities, and they’ve had an equally high number of bicycle accidents as a result. However, countries like Netherlands, where bicycles outnumber people by nearly 2:1, are coming up with unique ideas.

One idea is to change how drivers and passengers open car doors when exiting vehicles. This method, know as a “Dutch Reach”, forces the person exiting the car to turn their head in the process. The process involves opening the car door with the opposite hand, and it has worked pretty well in studies.