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Long Beach Bicycle Dooring Accident Lawyers

What Is a Bicycle Dooring Accident?

Dooring is a traffic collision that occurs when a passing cyclist is struck by a car door that is opened. Many regions, including California, have laws requiring motorists to look out for approaching bicyclists and exercise caution when opening a car door. These laws tend to either be forgotten or ignored in too many instances. In analyzing the problem it is important to understand the "door zone." This zone is the distance from the parked vehicle which extends according to the width of the vehicle’s side doors when fully opened.

Research Study Findings

A Long Beach Post article reported on Herbie Huff, a researcher with The Lewis Center of Transportation Studies at UCLA. Huff is part of a group that devoted efforts in analyzing bicycle safety. Two key variables surfaced in their research that correlated with dooring accidents:

  • Street width: Wider streets are more likely to have larger vehicles operating at higher speed, which escalates the prevalence of accidents and accident severity. The width of the parking and/or bicycle lanes impacts the chances of dooring accidents.
  • Speed: The rate of speed that a cyclist is traveling is closely associated with reaction time, braking and avoiding distance, as well as the force of impact.

Based on data from the Long Beach Police Dept., their records show that the city has an average of approximately 440 accidents per year involving an injury or fatality of a bicyclist or pedestrian. In 2015, roughly 14 people were killed either while bicycling or as a pedestrian. The League of American Bicyclists lists bicycle dooring accidents as the 3rd most common motorist-related source for cyclist accidents.

Bicyclist Dooring Accident Avoidance

Many roads now have a specifically designed bicycle path adjacent to them, allowing a simple remedy for accident prevention. The Long Beach Municipal Code states the cyclists must use these paths instead of the roadway when applicable. There are also special bike lines that have been constructed in east and north Long Beach that have a physical barrier for added safety. Riders must keep in mind that often serious accidents occur when a cyclist swerves to avoid a car door, but in doing so, crosses in front of a passing vehicle.

Motorist Dooring Accident Avoidance

Those parking and preparing to exit a vehicle on a street are encouraged to employ usage of the nicknamed "Dutch reach." This refers to a driver exiting their vehicle by using their right hand to open up the door, thus allowing them to have better vision in seeing approaching bicyclists.

Problem with Data Availability

Reports have indicated that there may be a lack of sufficient data available concerning bicycle dooring accidents due to their classification of being a non-moving vehicle incident. Motor vehicle accident reporting agencies may filter the data to only collect incidents categorized as having involved a moving vehicle.

California State Law

The CA Vehicle Code addresses the concern for instances of potential bicyclist dooring accidents. Section 22517 states motorists must exercise caution in opening the door of a vehicle on the side which faces moving traffic. It further prohibits leaving a door open on this side of the vehicle for any length of time beyond that which is required for passengers to enter or exit.

Long Beach Local Law

The local Long Beach Municipal Code addresses traffic laws relating to bicycles. The speed limit for bicycles traveling on the city sidewalks is 15 mph, and is 5 mph when traveling amid the presence of pedestrians. The city requires that bicycles are equipped with an audible signaling device that can be detected from up to 100 feet. This device may include a horn, bell or other such piece of equipment.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a motorist while riding a bicycle in Long Beach, you may have legal recourse to obtain financial compensation.

Long Beach bike accident attorney Joseph H. Low IV has a proud track record of success defending injury victims. In fact, he has previously been awarded as a 1st place recipient in the National Trail Competition conducted by the American Bar Association. Contact the office today at (888) 454-5569 to review the details of your case.

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