Dooring - the "Door Zone"
Tips for Safety
Dooring is when a vehicle occupant opens his or her door in the path of a cyclist, who then either hits the door or is forced to swerve into other traffic. This is one of the biggest causes of serious injuries to cyclists in London. The lesson is never to ride within the door zone. Being observant of car occupants can help, but I'd still stay out of the dooring zone as you never know if someone in the car is bending down and thus not visible when he/she opens the car door.
Unfortunately some cycle lanes are placed right in this door zone. This Warrington Cycle Campaign page shows a cycle lane that doesn't look very promising to me, it seems to be placed entirely inside the dooring zone. I would personally travel to the right of the cycle lane amongst the cars if going along a road like this. This particular example is an advisory cycle lane, but I'd not treat a mandatory one any differently. Note that mandatory cycle lanes in the UK are mandatory for cars not to enter, they are not mandatory for cycles to use, so you are within your rights to cycle in the road proper.
What about the danger of riding further out into the traffic, and angry and annoyed car drivers? The temptation is to be too submissive to motor vehicles and just squeeze by next to the parked cars or the pavement, but this is the wrong approach. The effect of riding further out into the road is that cars tend to give you more space, not less, and will then overtake you properly and when safe to do so rather than just squeezing past. Some car drivers will display irritation at you "holding them up", but it's important to remember that you're not trying to delay anyone, you're insuring your own safety. Any delay is likely to be very short, and even then the car driver isn't really going to be delayed by you, he or she will simply arrive at the next traffic queue a few seconds later and then still have to wait behind all the other cars anyway.
Dooring is a big one to watch out for, and one of the most important things to be aware of in order to increase your own safety. I think it applies to both cyclists and skaters, on a recent streetskate one of my friends was nearly doored thanks to an unobservant car driver. Some other skaters actually have been doored rather severely.
Don't forget that it's not only parked cars that are a hazard - if you're filtering through vehicles queued at a traffic light, that's another place to watch out. Passengers quite often get out of cars in this situation.
I should point out it is the car driver's responsibility not to open their door unsafely, and that this is a defensive cycling tip to help your own safety. From the UK Highway Code: "you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door". The must indicates this is a legal requirement, not just a highway code recommended practice.
Some tips I've found useful:
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