Safety Tip: How to Avoid Dooring (and What to Do if You are Doored)

As we connect the city with more protected bikeways, biking in San Francisco continues to become even more safe and comfortable for people of all ages. Unfortunately, many bike routes in San Francisco still don’t have protected bikeways, so people driving and biking need to be extra careful to avoid dangerous interactions — like unsafe turning or the door zone (two of the top causes of injury to people biking).

Here’s what you need to know about how to avoid dooring — both as someone biking and driving.

How to Avoid Dooring When in a Car:

Before you open your door, look behind you by using your mirrors and turning around. You can also open the door with your right hand, which forces you to look back. Then slowly open your door once it’s clear. Once you exit, close it as quickly as possible. Never fling your door open or leave it open. If you hit someone with your door, you will be found at fault and cited for dooring (CVC 22517). But more than that, you’ll really hurt someone.

How to (Do Your Best to) Avoid Dooring When on a Bike:

First, ride outside of the door zone. If you’re in an unprotected bike lane, stay toward the outside of the lane, never ride right next to parked cars. Other people biking should pass on your left. Keep an eye on parking cars and for drivers in the car. On streets with sharrows (share the road arrows) ride through the center of the arrow. Sharrows are placed outside of the door zone, so if you ride through the middle, you’ll stay clear of swinging doors. Fun fact: the sharrow was invented in SF and is now used nationwide.

Sharrows are placed outside of the door zone. Ride through the center and stay clear of doors.

What to Do if You Are Doored

If you are hit by a car door, follow our usual Crash Checklist
(Below and on our Resources Page)

Immediately After the Crash

  • Tell the driver to stay until the police arrive. If they refuse to stay or don’t provide ID, get their and the car’s description, vehicle’s license plate # and state of issue.
  • Call (or ask someone to call) 911 and ask for the police to come to the scene.
  • Get name and contact info for any witnesses. Ask them to remain on the scene until police arrive, if possible.
  • Ask for the driver’s license and insurance card. Write down name, address, date of birth, and insurance information.

When the Police Arrive

  • Ask them to take an incident report (req’d for all bike collisions, SFPD General Order 9.02b).
  • Get reporting police officer’s name and badge number.
  • If you’ve been doored, ask the officer to cite the motorist for dooring (a violation of CVC 22517).
  • Ask the officers to speak to witnesses, if possible.
  • While a doctor’s report of your injury is important for insurance and/or legal action, you do not need to take an ambulance. If there is any complaint of pain, police must take an incident report (SFPD General Order 9.02b).

Happy, safe riding! To learn more about the SF Bicycle Coalition’s extensive safety and education work, see our list of classes.

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