Research into the Dooring of Cyclists

Source: The Greens

Source: The Greens

Johnson, Newstead, Oxley and Charlton (2013) contribute to our understanding of cyclists, dooring-zones (also known as killing-zones), cycling infrastructure and driver behaviour through an investigation into cyclist crashes with open vehicle doors.

The authors analyse Victorian police reported crashes, hospital data and naturalistic cycling video footage and found that the number of cyclist-open vehicle door crashes is increasing and that crash type may be reduced by improvements in driver behaviour and reconfiguration of road design.

In all honesty most if not all, reasonably experienced cyclists could have told authors that (a) drivers need to look for cyclists before opening doors and that designing “bicycle lanes” to run right along park cars is well stupid and dangerous road design: yes City of Fremantle I am referring to you! Please don’t call yourself a cycling city when you implement road infrastructure designed to increase the risk of killing mums and dads, brothers and sisters.

The paper looks at Victorian police reported crashes in the period 2000 – 2011, hospital presentations (2000-2010) and a sample of video footage from a naturalistic study of commuter cyclists in Melbourne (2009–2010).

The authors concluded that

A total of 1247 police reported cyclist crashes and 401 hospital emergency department presentations were analysed. As a proportion of all cyclist crashes, cyclist-open vehicle door crashes accounted for 3.1% (hospital) and 8.4% (police). The majority of cyclists injured were: male (police: 67.1%; hospital: 65.8%); adults aged 18 years or older (police: 97.5%; hospital: 96.3%), and crashes occurred in speed zones up to 60 kph (police: 93.1%). From the naturalistic cycling study, there were 13 door-related events with a rate of 0.59 events per trip. No collisions occurred and in all cases, a potential collision was avoided by the cyclists’ evasive action. Most drivers did not look in the direction of the cyclist before opening the door. While the number of reported crashes is relatively low, cyclists’ exposure to events with potential for this crash type is high. Potential countermeasures to reduce the risk of this interaction/crash type are discussed and include road environment design improvements and road user behaviour programs.

The full reference for the paper is:

Johnson, M., Newstead, S., Oxley, J. & Charlton, J. (2013). Cyclists and open vehicle doors: Crash characteristics and risk factors. Safety Science, 59, 135-140.

4 Responses to Research into the Dooring of Cyclists

  1. James 21 November 2013 at 4:54 AM #

    Have you seen this paper?

    I agree with you on all counts, especially that it is immoral for the road designers to purposefully align bicyclists with opening car doors.

    1) Why do the Australian Road Design Rules allow for such flawed road design? For months I have been trying to find the right people to talk to who write and review the road design standards, but no one will listen. I have badgered people from the Australian Bicycle Council and the Cycling Promotion Fund, Bicycle Networks, Vicroads, MPs and road design engineers from several companies.

    2) Why are such dangerous designs still being implemented? Recently Stonnington Council near Melbourne decided against implementing the highly recommended “Door-Away” bicycle lane, in favour of the traditional door-in-your-face design. Their reasoning (which I have in an email) is basically that they want bicyclists to act as suicide police. They think that having cyclists in the door zone might reduce the prevalence of people swinging their door open, and may encourage them to park closer to the kerb.

    3) As a bad alternative, why must we suffer the Copenhagen bike lanes that drastically increase the risk of colliding with a pedestrian, and drastically increases the chances of being overlooked by turning traffic at driveways and intersections?

    • Andrew Priest 22 November 2013 at 1:39 PM #

      Thanks for adding to the discussion and for the link. You make some very good points and raise further matters of concern.

  2. BastardSheep 21 November 2013 at 8:03 AM #

    A few years ago it was really trendy for councils in Sydney to be adding bicycle lanes and boasting about how many KM of them they had. Most (if not all) were door lanes. I’d love to know how many they claimed to have vs how many they had once door lanes were excluded, because imho a door lane isn’t a bicycle lane at all.

    • Andrew Priest 22 November 2013 at 1:41 PM #

      I agree. I don’t consider door zones as bicycle lanes at all. At best they are badly placed bicycle awareness zones, expect they don’t raise awareness.

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